“Bob’s Burgers” won’t be the best show on Fox’s Sunday night Animation Domination, but it’s better than “American Dad” or “The Cleveland Show.” A lot of the jokes are really obvious, but it does do things that only animation can do, so it’s not just a cartoon with the same jokes as live-action sitcoms.
Bob Belcher runs Bob’s Burgers, right in between a funeral home and an environmental group. His opening pep talk is a weak introduction to his basic family, but these intros pay off. His wife Linda interrupts him. Son Gene is more interested in making robot, laser and fart noises. Older daughter Tina has an itchy crotch and youngest daughter Louise likes to rearrange the restaurant her way.
The first few minutes is a pretty tired interpretation of the “husband forgot anniversary” plot of many sitcoms. Also, Bob tells Gene not to give samples to mourners from the funeral home, but Gene does anyway. Get through that and the show starts to get better.
It turns out Bob forgets birthdays and due dates too, but the clever touch to that bit is that he forgets his own birthday too. So this isn’t the selfish sitcom dad. He’s not even reliable enough to be selfish. Then it turns out Linda’s ex-fiancé is the health inspector, and HE remembers the anniversary of the date she married Bob.
The Fox edginess comes when Louise renames the daily special “The Child Molester.” It come with candy. That’s an easy inappropriate laugh but they develop the joke to where a creepy guy actually orders the Child Molester, and the family debates which kid has to serve it to him.
A great bit of irreverence comes when they do the old Rain Man toothpick gag. Tina thinks she’s autistic, so Gene tests her by spilling toothpicks. She guesses 100. He only spilled three. Also, the health inspector asks Bob to help him pull out of a parallel space even though he’s screwing him over.
The actual plot of the episode is that the health inspector is investigating Bob for cooking human flesh. He holds up the test over his grudge for Linda. That’s a really gimmicky plot that relies on a lot of silly misunderstandings, but if they can fill the episodes with toothpick jokes, it’ll fill the time between “Simpsons” and “Family Guy” all right. I like the crotch itch jokes too, but that was a classic episode of “Beavis and Butt-Head.
The animation doesn’t do much for me. The people are oddly shaped. They hardly look like humanoids, let alone people who could procreate and have families. But they kind of resemble Far Side pictures, although those never had to move. As long as they use animation to play with timing and physics, that’s the real difference between animation and just a drawn sitcom.