Monday, March 12, 2012

Grill up a new Bob's Burgers

FOX's Bob's Burgers returns for its second season last night with "Belchies." Hearing that there might be treasure in a taffy factory that will soon be torn down, Louise (Kristen Schaal, the true star of the show) convinces her siblings to accompany her on a late night search. Tina (Dan Mintz) invites along Jimmy Jr. (Jay Johnston, The Sarah Silverman Program), who brings his brothers and friend, to Louise's dismay. The kids don't actually find anything, but luckily parents Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) come looking for them, because Louise gets stuck, and the demolition crew begins work without checking the structure first.

Bob's Burgers is great because it is not only funny, but unlike anything else in the Animation Domination programming block. It seems a wholly original family comedy, with a typical dumb father who cares, and a less typical loving, supportive wife who happens to be pretty weird. And the kids are weird, too. So here is this pretty normal guy trying to do right by his very odd family.

If one questions just how weird Linda is, one only needs to look at "Belchies." Bringing sex dice into their scheduled Sunday night romp is fine, though awkward, but secretly slipping Bob boner pills, causing him to try to hide an erection for the rest of the episode, isn't exactly normal behavior. She does it because she loves him and thinks she is helping, but as if often the case, her help isn't exactly wanted or needed. And Bob continues to love her anyway, because she is a good person, at heart. Even after she hints that she might slip him more pills next week. It's a great couple formula that just seems fresh.

The oddness continues behind the scenes. Both Linda and daughter Tina are voiced by men. Guest stars don't always stay along gender lines, either. While it is not unusual for an animated series to make some occasional change ups, the sheer number of times Bob's Burgers does it is astounding. It also fits very well with the offbeat tone, keeping the voices humorous and unexpected.

After a short first season, the recurring cast is just beginning to build. Three veterans of The Sarah Silverman Program give life to the Pesto kids, with Sarah Silverman and her sister, Laura, handling the twins, Ollie and Andy. These may not be the best known comedians working in showbiz (with the exception of Sarah), but they are some of the funniest, and fit right in with the cast.

The story of "Belchies" works because it involves the three kids getting into trouble. While the series is titled Bob's Burgers, and there is some fun to be had at the titular establishment, any story with the sibling trio off without supervision ends up soaring. This can be attributed to wonderful chemistry and well defined characters. "Belchies" is no exception in this arena, with bold, crazy Louise dragging lovesick Tina and idiot Gene (Eugene Mirman) along for the ride.

Even better, with the mystery of the taffy factory left unsolved at story's end, Cyndi Lauper sings a reveal over the ending credits. Cyndi Lauper! It's a totally out-of-left-field spot that works extremely well. This move caps a high quality return for the wonderful, under-watched series.

Don't miss another minute of Bob's Burgers, airing Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

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