'Bob's Burgers: Season 1'
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2012 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: Smart laughs and irreverent fun are always on the menu at Bob's Burgers. Bob Belcher's family-run restaurant would be a big success if not for one thing - his family! Oldest daughter, Tina, can't control her raging hormones. Middle son, Gene, promotes the restaurant by wearing a burger costume, but forgets to take it off to pee. And little Louise tells her class that Bob's burgers are made from human flesh! This quirky comedy will leave you hungry for more.
DVD Verdict: In all truth, I fully admit I strongly disliked the first episode. I turned it off twice before finally finishing it. I just barely convinced myself to watch the second episode, and, yes, it was inspired! Bob pretends to be stuck in the walls of his house to escape his family, and slowly goes insane (mostly because he has nowhere to poop). Consistently original and very funny. And most subsequent episodes were equally quaint and amusing.
Over time I realized there were a few fundamental reasons I liked this series more than a lot of other comedy shows around, especially Seth MacFarlane's.
#1: The family is nice to each other, despite how kooky they all are. They are supportive, and clearly accept one other implicitly. That to me is a breath of fresh air in today's comedic landscape. A year or two ago I gave up on Family Guy (after the episode where Quagmire insinuated he would have sex with his daughter once she turned 18) because I was just fatigued by the constant graphic violence and generally crappy treatment of one character to another.
American Dad has sadly followed suit after staying pretty palatable for a long time - have you watched an episode of that lately? Count how often one character yells at one another, or says something really hurtful, it's like every 10 seconds. It's just tiresome and a shame, really, because the characters are original and interesting; I just don't see why they have to assault our sense of decency over and over again to make us laugh. Bob's Burger's doesn't do that, it's more like Futurama, where the jokes come from situations and goofy character choices/opinions.
#2: Bob is the straight man, unlike the crazy ones like Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin. I love that the central character is down to earth, allowing us to see the family through his eyes. He's a rock that grounds the show.
#3: The show's commitment to keeping the situations real, and creating plots that allow the neighborhood around Bob's Burgers to slowly be discovered. I feel like they are laying the groundwork for a show that has more genuine interactions between characters and community - a more "slice of life" style that will enable storytelling that imbues life lessons in addition to making us laugh.
Of course overall it's just a comedy show, but in this day and age making cynical audiences laugh is a harder game to succeed at. I feel Bob's Burgers does a good job, keeping its integrity in the process - and perhaps more importantly, it allows me to keep mine. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.