BOB’S BURGERS Series Premiere Review

     January 9, 2011

It might be hard to believe that an animated series is hitting Fox without a previous network name involved. This time around the new addition to Animation Domination doesn’t come from Matt Groening (The Simpsons and Futurama), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, American Dad) or Mike Judge (King of the Hill). Loren Bouchard (creator of Home Movies) is behind Bob’s Burgers, a comedy that follows Bob and his questionably sanitary burger joint that also employs his wife and three young children. Though the pilot sees the burger join itself in jeopardy of being shut down, there’s plenty of reasons to want Bob’s Burgers to stay open for business and serve up even more laughter. Find out why after the jump.

After the title sequence shows this is Bob’s Burgers grand re-re-re-opening, the restaurant is facing yet another potential health code violation as Louise (Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal), the bunny-ear wearing daughter, spread a rumor that their burgers have human remains in the meat. But the health inspector has a history with Bob’s wife Linda (John Roberts) and there’s a chance she could get all this red tape cleared up with just a little hint of flirtation. Meanwhile, the other two kids aren’t doing much to keep the restaurant sanitary. Tina (Dan Mintz) keeps scratching a rash in her nether regions while Gene (Eugene Mirman, also of Flight of the Conchords) is more concerned with a robot-voice, fart-sounding megaphone than dropping the burger samples on the sidewalk and then serving them.

Like any good animated comedy, the kids have the right combination of adult sensibilities and childlike tendencies to make them hilarious. Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman have voices that were made for comedy, especially in the animation department, and their talents are among the highlights of this hilarious new series. Meanwhile, you’ll recognize H. Jon Benjamin’s voice (he’s play various characters on Family Guy, including Carl the gas station attendant) as Bob, another talent who seems to have been crafted for voice work. Voicing Bob’s wife Linda isn’t an actress, but Human Giant and Crank Yankers writer Dan Mintz, and while his voice seems too artificial as a female character, it soon begins to fit with the character. The same can be said for the other sibling Tina voiced by John Roberts since the character’s awkward nature and masculine features only make his voice a perfect fit.

With simple animation, there’s nothing flashy to try and distract you from what’s really important: the quality comedy writing. While the jokes don’t lend themselves to family’s as much as The Simpsons, this series acts more as a happy medium between The Simpsons fading hilarity and Family Guy‘s over-the-top, very much adult sense of humor. Also unlike the aforementioned hit animated shows on Fox, the pilot doesn’t seem to venture too far outside of the restaurant for humor or story. It’s hard to tell from just the pilot, but I’m hoping most of the series doesn’t venture too far away from the restaurant for fear of becoming just another animated sitcom. It’s nice to have a show focus on a family in their own restaurant rather than another generic house in another boring neighborhood.

THE FINAL WORD: Bob’s Burgers delivers some fresh animated comedy without Fox’s familiar talents getting involved. Personally, I’m hoping Bob’s Burgers will keep cooking for at least one full season so viewers can get a taste of some comedy on Fox that doesn’t come from Seth MacFarlane. As much as I love his work on the network, it’s nice to have an animated comedy like this that doesn’t rely on outlandish, unrelated pop culture references, disjointed cutaways and spontaneous injections of guest stars.

Bob’s Burger’s premieres tonight on Fox at 8:30/7:30c.

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