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Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:00 JennyPop
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Bob's Burgers is the newest animation offering from 20th Century Fox and as rare and unique in the broadcast biosphere as a vegetarian in an Outback Steakhouse. Sure, there may be a few others lurking about, dealing with bland Fettuccine Alfredo and the standard veggie platter everyone else has on the menu, but you have to stand up in your booth and look hard.

Having a serious animation addiction, I was thrust into a tailspin when King of the Hill was cancelled a few years ago after thirteen seasons (the final four episodes of Season 13 left unaired by Fox and left to the imagination like Gilbert Stuart's unfinished portrait of George Washington). Happily, this network decision clearly threw open the window into which KotH producer Jim Dauterive shimmied back in and, with creator Loren Bouchard, gave us Bob's Burgers.

Bob is a man on a meat mission: burgers are his business and people suck. Life is good behind the grill; it's exasperating with customers. If Woody Allen and Spongebob Squarepants were caught in a tear within the Time-space Continuum, Bob is what would happen. Mustachioed and optimistic enough, Bob will survive the day as long as nobody dies on his property and he makes it through the Labor Day boardwalk blowout without having a heart attack. If it all gets too heavy, the neighboring businesses, It's Your Funeral Home and Crematorium and the Meth, I Can Methadone Clinic, may be able to help.

His beloved wife Linda loves burgers enthusiastically because Bob loves burgers ... for lack of much else. Part-Rhoda, part-Edith Bunker and part-Lois Griffin she has an immovable coiffure and a standing apology for most folks with whom her man interacts; yet, she also has his hirsute back when need be. Their three kids do their best to help make Bob's life just a little more difficult each day. Spanning the emotional tape measure from maudlin and apathetic to manic, dramatic and possibly sociopathic, the Belcher children, Gene, Tina and Louise (Tina Louise? Excellent nameplay!) provide more of a travelling morality play than restaurant help as Bob and Linda try to bring in business, keep in business and keep at bay the never-ending stream of nemeses: Jimmy Pesto, successful pizzeria owner and Italian-American goombah across the street; vindictive health inspectors; sexy, active, lethal Brasilians; Tina's onslaught of teen misanthropy worthy of Victorian-age graveyard poets, but dressed down in dingy boardwalk tees and Coke bottle-bottom glasses. Her tendency to hide under the presumably-Naugahyde booths lends immense cartoon pathos.

Whatever the conflict, Bob is ready with his spatula, his apron and his belief in his burgers. Gene brings in the customers with a megaphone and a foam burger suit, believing the fine line between comedy and irritation is a myth. Louise, the darling psychopath eternally chapeau'd in hot-pink bunny ears, is Bob's youngest daughter and his biggest cheerleader. Whether the sexy Brasilian needs gutting or the grease traps need cleaning, Louise is up for it ... although she'd much rather poke dead seals with a stick and her brother Gene ... poke the seals with Gene's company ... not poke the seals with a stick and/or with Gene.

Jim Dauterive, former exec. producer, super. producer and so many other types of producer on King of the Hill , now heads the Above-the-Line ranks of Bob's Burgers along with the show's creator and fellow E.P./writer Loren Bouchard of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist andThe Ricky Gervais Show: both of these shows too smart and too cerebral to illicit even the slightest thunk ion the dull skull of the average American viewer.

As I peruse Fox's Animation Domination fall lineup for 2011, I do see BB in there; yet, sadly, Bob's still wearing last season's togs. I have a very bad feeling Bob's Burgers will go the way of the similarly brilliant The Office (original, BBC-production), Pulling, Arrested Development and ferrets: an average lifespan of about two seasons ... plus a sudden, two-hour finale special.

Because this stuff's important (especially if you're listed):

20th Century Fox Television

Loren Bouchard

Loren Bouchard
Jim Dauterive

Anthony Chun

H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher
John Roberts as Linda Belcher
Kristen Schaal as Louise Belcher
Eugene Mirman as Gene Belcher
Dan Mintz as Tina Belcher

Update April 2014: Clearly, three years after I wrote this, Bob's Burgers is happily still on the air. Beefsquatch!! Pictures added were taken at WonderCon Anaheim 2014 by Twisted Pair Photography. Yours Truly is Louise, a natural fit.

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