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Old 11-21-2016, 01:27 PM   #1
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Default 10 episodes of Belcher family values from Bob’s Burgers

Ever since The Simpsons’ runaway success, Fox has put special attention toward animated series, forming entire blocks of programming around the concept. This spurred shows that enjoyed success in their own right like King Of The Hill, Family Guy, and Futurama (and a few doomed from the start series like The Cleveland Show, Allen Gregory, and Sit Down, Shut Up), all of which paved the way for Loren Bouchard’s Bob’s Burgers, a sitcom that also just happens to be a cartoon about a family running a burger joint in a northeastern coastal town.

With a name like Belcher, the family at the center of Bob’s Burgers could have easily become just an animated vehicle for uninspired fart jokes. And while the show certainly doesn’t shy away from using bodily functions for a few laughs, nothing about how it gets there is cheap. The heart of the show is the strong family relationship between parents Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) and their three children Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal).

Creator Bouchard perfects in Bob’s Burgers what he started with Home Movies, his short-lived UPN series revived by Adult Swim in 2002. His animated series co-created by Brendon Small explored complicated familial relationships with smart and funny dialogue, simple animation, and genre parodies, all filtered through the eyes of an 8-year-old aspiring filmmaker (voiced by Small). In its second season in particular, the series becomes a family sitcom in a roundabout way, without losing that crude, Adult Swim edge. Bob’s Burgers feels like a grown-up sequel to Home Movies: at times just as irreverent and utilizing similar techniques and themes, but with a larger scope and more mature storytelling. Being able to explore each situation through five very specific points of view from characters at different stages of life allows for a more meaty (no pun intended) show. One technique that sets Home Movies and Bob’s Burgers apart is Bouchard’s insistence on having the cast record together. This builds chemistry between the characters that is hard to come by when you’re not seeing actors physically interact on screen, and in turn creates a more believable family dynamic.

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to the talent of that cast. Roberts had already created the character of Linda on his own, coming in with her voice and quirks fully realized, which jump-started the development of the rest of the family. Schaal and Mirman, who have worked together in the past on television and comedy tours, feed off each others’ manic energy, balancing Gene and Louise’s cartoonish qualities with a built-in kinship that a brother and sister would have. Mintz grounds Tina (originally conceived as the family’s eldest son, Dan) with a calm monotone that requires little else than a quiet groan to get a laugh. And it’s fitting that Benjamin serves as the patriarch of the family given his long history in voice work, including Home Movies and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (which Bouchard also worked on).

The modest Belchers adopt creative measures to overcome their struggles, from keeping the burger restaurant open day to day to rescuing Bob from a watery grave. While each member of the family has their own strengths, it’s when they come together that they are the most successful—and the most entertaining to watch. The sibling relationship in particular is something special to see: The Belcher children are often able to hold court for no reason other than they have the support of each other. They’re not the cool kids—in fact they are very often ridiculed, tricked by, and picked on by the cool kids. But together they’re an unstoppable force, even against most of the adults who cross their paths.

In a television climate where humor is often found in cynics, it’s nice to have a hopeful show with characters who stick to a moral code, even if it is their own unique code. For the Belchers, that code is “family first,” no matter how strange the situation or how dire the consequences. Here are 10 episodes that demonstrate Belcher family values at their best:
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