Bob's Burgers returns with a little help from its fans

Bob's Burgers returns with a little help from its fans

Bob Belcher is a man of the people. Bob’s Burgers has always been about misfits coming together, flaws and all, to navigate the seemingly insurmountable challenges that comes with menial tasks and surreal life-or-death situations alike. So it’s fitting that the season-eight premiere, “Brunchsquatch,” was animated with the help of more than 60 creative fans. Showrunner Loren Bouchard has always praised and supported fan art on social media—in fact earlier this summer, he hired a new animator via Twitter because of his Archer/Bob’s Burgers fanfic. On this one he went all in, using those pieces of art as inspiration for a revolving door of styles throughout the episode.

The shifting animation causes a little bit of whiplash. By the time my eyes settled into one version of Belchers, a new one walked onto the screen. But Lizzie and Wendy Molyneux, who wrote the premiere, kept the story and setting simple to balance it all out. Tina, Gene, and Louise ask their parents for a dog, and have to help Felix (Zach Galifianakis) win a high-stakes, rich-person game of hide and seek against Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline, who was robbed of an Emmy!) to get the money for a pet. Meanwhile, Bob and Linda decide to start serving brunch. It’s impressive that the show hasn’t yet tackled the well-worn sitcom tropes of the kids wanting a pet or a chance to jab at millennials’ favorite meal, so it makes sense that when these story lines are introduced, they’re within an episode already pushing the creative boundaries.

The images might have flowed better if they were more in service of the story. For a show that so often embraces unique narrative structures and fantasy to flex some creative muscles, the new animation didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. The only real tie to the story is a series of drawings the kids do to show the difference between their family with and without a dog—with, everyone is in technicolor and Bob has been allowed to marry a second wife while without, it’s a dark, gray world in which Linda is close to stabbing Bob to death.

What the animation does highlight is that the voice actors really carry these characters. Even without their typical looks or movements or physical ticks, Kristen Schaal still carries Louise with a constant air of mischief, Eugene Mirman’s Gene remains confidently confused, and H. Jon Benjamin as Bob is a tired dad just trying his best.

The biggest treat of this episode is guest John Early as Dame Judi Brunch, a blogger who “can not even” with Linda and her bottomless “mom-mosas” (“They’re named after me! Get it?”). He’s the sassy, influential customer Linda always dreamed of having, and he seems to genuinely love the restaurant’s brunch experience. Of course, like in most episodes of Bob’s Burgers, that minor victory is quickly overshadowed by a colossal failure. Without including a meal per person quota, “brunch skunks” have invaded the burger joint, binging on the bottomless mimosas before purging in the booths.

In the end, it’s the rag-tag team coming together and descending into chaos that both destroys and saves the plan to get a dog and newly instituted brunch. In that sense, the pandemonium of flashing depictions of the Belchers, from anime-inspired to claymation, really is the best representation of what this show is all about now eight seasons in.

Stray observations

  • I’m thrilled to be along for the ride with you all through this season of Bob’s Burgers! For some of my thoughts on the series, check out this TV Club 10: “10 episodes of Belcher family values from Bob’s Burgers
  • Burgers of the day: “The Blank Canvas Burger” and “Topless the Morning to You Burger”

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