Review: Bob's Burgers Season 1
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
Vying for position as the best cartoon voiced by H. Jon Benjamin ...
... second only to Sterling Archer and narrowly beating Satan himself, I give you Bob.
Bob's Burgers centers on the adventure of the Belcher family, Bob and his wife and their three children, who live in an apartment above the eponymous restaurant which they run. Of course they comprise the standard wacky sitcom family but in a really fun way. Bob, the father, is a classic straight-man most of the time; trying to make a success of his business while managing a fairly intense rivalry with Jimmy Pesto, owner of the Italian restaurant across the street. His wife, Linda, is a braying, Brooklyn-accented Fran Drescher of a character whose annoying tendencies are actually overcome by her sweetness. Eldest daughter Tina is having weird, awkward incipient puberty - a comedy gold-mine! Son Gene forgets to take off the burger costume to pee, and provides the soundtrack to their lives on the accordion and tambourine. And youngest daughter Louise, she of the unexplained pink bunny ears, is hilarious. She gets all the best lines! But don't blame the writers...
Unlike other animated series, or even regular sitcoms, each character gets good lines from time to time. This may be due in part to the way the series is filmed - again, unlike other animated shows, the voice actors all record their parts together, and improvisation is allowed - making for a more spontaneous, loose delivery than more structured shows, and bringing the voice actor's humor into play as well. This improvisation makes the DVD extras interesting - expectations are low, for DVD extras on an animated series. Other than some commentaries on different episodes, what can they really do? Well, due to the improvisations above, Bob's Burgers actually includes outtakes on the Season 1 DVD. You get to watch the actors improvise lines from Season 1 episodes that were not shown, either from time constraints or for content (Kristin Schall's hilarious profanity from episode 'Bed & Breakfast' comes to mind).
And of course, H. Jon Benjamin's delivery is as great in Bob's Burger's as it is in Archer. And the voice actors for supporting characters are extraordinarily talented, and play off of one another well. Also, owning the DVD makes sense because Bob's, for all it's rough, unpolished animation, is actually quite a layered show - multiple viewings reveal more jokes than at first. And if you're in the mood for weird, off-center humor, you'll find yourself enjoying the heck out of Bob's Burgers. The fact that it's a prime-time animated series with a cult following, centered on a lower-middle-class family, will automatically invite some comparison to Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy. And while both cross the line in tastefulness - so far over the line that the line is just a dot to them - somehow Bob's Burgers is less offensive, and funnier. While Family Guy, especially in recent seasons, has relied too much on gross-out jokes to be really funny or surprising, anymore - Bob's Burgers strikes a better balance. It's weird, and funny - and even when the topics are gross (as in the pilot episode, where the Health Department suspects the restaurant uses human flesh in its burgers) or risque (in 'Sexy Dance Fighting', where Tina develops a crush on her Capoeira teacher, who hits Bob so hard he poops), somehow the show stays grounded.
If you like Bob's Burgers, check out Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. It was created by Loren Bouchard, creator of Bob's, and the Devil was voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. Some other voice actors from Lucy pop up in Bob's as well - and while the premise of Bob's is the most straightforward and believable of the shows, they share the same off-the-wall humor and goofiness that makes them so appealing.
As long as you're in the mood for some weird humor. Which may or may not include animal anuses, or transvestite prostitutes. Vulgar? Yes. Funny? Yes.
Bob's Burgers: Season 1 is out now.
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