The dysfunctional-but-lovable family unit is a staple of television sitcoms -- especially animated ones, from The Simpsons to Family Guy -- so it's no surprise that Fox added Bob's Burgers to its Animation Domination lineup.  Fortunately, this cartoon about a regular dad trying to keep sane with a crazy family is elevated by some terrific voice talent and a dark sense of humor.
Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) just wants to raise his family and make a few bucks cooking at his restaurant, Bob's Burgers.  However, his family is fairly insane.  Youngest daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal) always wears rabbit ears, loves getting people in trouble, and is a borderline sociopath.  Middle child Gene (Eugene Mirman) fancies himself a comic and singer -- even if his material consists of fart noises on an electronic keyboard.  Teenage daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) has low self esteem and goes along with just about anything anyone says.  And Bob's wife Linda (John Roberts -- lot of men doing women's voices here) enthusiastically drags Bob into all sorts of things he wishes he didn't have to do.
Bob's Burgers is largely a series of wacky hijinks (Bob trapped in a crawlspace, the family gets hijacked at sea, the family adopting a cow) that have no bearing on any other episodes.  However, in addition to the great voicework (from H. Jon Benjamin's almost-dull everyman to Schaal's mischievous imp), Bob's Burgers has some terrific jokes.  When Bob gets trapped in the wall, it leads to a Shining parody; when they go to a music festival, there's a dead-on parody of Tori Amos.  And when the kids crash a birthday party for free cake and the mother wants to know how they know her son, their answers are "homeroom," "church," and "Desert Storm."

Bob's Burgers doesn't revolutionize the sitcom -- but it makes me laugh.  A lot.  That's pretty good for a burger joint.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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