Bob’s Burgers is the latest animated series from the Fox network that attempts to fill that remaining half hour in their Sunday lineup that isn’t occupied by The Simpsons or Seth MacFarlane comedies. Bob’s Burger’s may not be as inventive as The Simpsons, or as boundary pushing as Family Guy and its offspring, however, the series has its charms, as exhibited in release of the complete first season on DVD.
Created by Loren Bouchard, Bob’s Burgers stars H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher, patriarch of the Belcher family and owner of the greasy spoon hamburger joint the show takes its name from. Bob is married to Tina (voiced by John Roberts) and they have three children: Tina (Dan Miltz), a 12-year-old in the throws of those very… very awkward years of early puberty; middle child, Gene (Eugene Mirman), a couple years younger than Tina and obsessed with his Casio type keyboard; and rebellious Lousie (Kristen Schaal), who’s the typical “smarter than everyone else/too smart for her own good” younger character you find in so many sitcoms. Louise is distinct for wearing a pink hat with rabbit ears. Tina helps run the restaurant and the kids all have specific jobs to help with the family business. Like so many animated series on prime time television, Bob’s Burger’s is essentially a sitcom with hand drawn characters, this time a combination of the family and workplace comedies.
The first episode, “Human Flesh,” does a good job of introducing the world of Bob’s Burgers, with the type of crude and somewhat shocking comedy that has become common place thanks to Family Guy and Adult Swim. The first episode is hit and miss with the laughs. However, subsequent episodes are funnier and more inventive. “Crawl Space” finds Bob hiding from his in-laws in the walls of his house. When he becomes trapped Bob begins having hallucinations right out of The Shining. In “Sacred Cow” a documentary filmmaker tries to make Bob feel guilty for cooking meat by chaining up a steer outside the restaurant. That episode ends with Bob making out with the dead cow in his dreams. It’s actually funnier than it sounds. Later episodes build on the promise of the earlier ones and the first season ends strongly with “Lobsterfest” and “Torpedo.”
The look of Bob’s Burger’s is kind of rough and crude, not quite as jarring as Dr. Katz, one of the other series that Bouchard worked on, but definitely not as polished as many of the other adult oriented animated series on television. What the show lacks is art direction it makes up for in the writing and performances. The cast does a great job of creating a believable sitcom family. They have the tough job of making us care for animated characters and trying to get us to laugh. For the most part the whole group succeeds in doing this. Schaal, in particular, excels on the show. There are also features plenty of guest stars, the most surprising of which is Kevin Kline. The Academy Award winner is a natural in voice over work.
The first season DVD contains all thirteen episodes from its maiden voyage on Fox. The two disc set contains audio commentary on every episode, audio outtakes for two episodes, “Bed & Breakfast” and “Sexy Dance Fighting,” a music video for the fan favorite song, “Lifting Up the Skirt of the Night,” and the Bob’s Burger’s original demo with an introduction by show creator, Bouchard.