I fully expected to hate Bob’s Burgers, the seemingly only non-Seth MacFarlane cartoon program on Sunday nights on Fox. The animation was weird-looking, the premise was thoroughly … meh. I watched the pilot episode and was uninspired. It just seemed kind of stupid. I was not alone in this early assessment, with such journalism stand-bys as the Washington Post and New York Times’ reviews indicated the half-hour cartoon was “pointlessly vulgar and derivatively dull.”
Then I watched the second episode. And the third. I began to look forward to the episodes. Very much.
At first I speculated, “It is because of Kristen Schall and Eugene Mirman! Their voice talent clearly carries the whole show! It is only because I truly wish it was the Kristen and Eugene show that I will sit through this doo-doo!” I had fallen madly in love with Schaal during the two glorious seasons of Flight of the Conchords on HBO, and I am the proud owner of a Eugene Mirman comedy record. And he was also on Flight of the Conchords. Huh.
Of course, there is also the voice talent of H. Jon Benjamin, the titular Bob. To me, he will always be the voice of Ben on Dr. Katz, the doctor’s loser son who painfully flirted with Dr. Katz’s weird red-haired receptionist.
Now, despite the title, and the obvious fact that I am building up to how I now enjoy the program, there are problems. Animation-wise, it needs more in-betweens. If I watch too carefully (as in, give it undivided attention instead of watching while knitting), I feel like the lack of in-betweens from just Bob’s mouth moving could throw me into seizures.
The silly names (last names such as Belcher, Fischoeder, etc.) and focus on fart jokes draws in a very young crowd, but the subject matter can be quite adult and inappropriate for kids. It’s subtle though, and I think it could be difficult for parents to discern if this is more geared toward the Simpsons demographic or the Family Guy crowd this program finds itself sandwiched between in the line-up.
Also, sometimes the show is just gross. Not funny gross – just gross. And, none of the main characters have chins.
Sure, there are other problems, but there are also plenty of fancy newspaper reviews that can tell you all about them. I am not a fancy person, so it works better for me to focus my grump on the characters having no chins.
So, as I watched those subsequent episodes, dodging epileptic animation and chinless teenager masturbation jokes, I slowly developed a fondness for this weirdness.
From the guest voice talent (such as Kevin Kline as Mr. Fischoeder the landlord, pictured here)
to the muppetesque facial expressions
to the deadpan insight into the thoughts of people like me
Bob’s Burgers has sucked me in. Even the bizarre voice casting of Bob’s wife and oldest daughter has grown on me, as the obvious man voices in themselves add to the depth of character.
I’m not going to go into the cast, or the premise of the show, as it is pretty self explanatory after about eight seconds and you can get that from any other review or commentary. I will tell you, though, that Louise (voiced by Kristen Schaal) is far and away the best character on the show. The screaming, the scheming, and the take no prisoners attitude, softened by the occasional reminder that she is in fact just a little girl, is brilliant.
I also learned/noticed/wikipedia-ed recently that the seven degrees of Bob’s Burgers extends beyond Flight of the Conchords. The show’s creator, Loren Bouchard, also was the creator of Dr. Katz. As mentioned above, H. John Benjamin did voice work on Dr. Katz. As did Laura Silverman (the receptionist, also mentioned above) who made a cameo on the Art Crawl episode of Bob’s Burgers. Her sister Sarah Silverman made a cameo in the same episode. Steve Agee, a regular on the Sarah Silverman Program did the voice of a transvestite hooker in Sheesh! Cab, Bob? episode of Bob’s Burgers. He was also in Children’s Hospital with Megan Mullally who was in the Art Crawl episode as well.
And while I continue to mourn the loss of King of the Hill, I am happy in the fact that Jim Dauterive who executive produced and wrote many episodes of that show, is now lending his skills in the same areas on this one. (Just like David Herman who has done voices on both shows.)
I guess what it comes down to, now that I consider this, is even though this a new show, it is rife with familiarity. And familiarity is reliable and tasty. Just like Bob’s Burgers.