“Bob’s Burgers” is something of an anomaly. It’s certainly not a kid’s cartoon, but it is also nowhere near as profane as shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park.” “Bob’s Burgers” is in a category of its own, and it excels in this uniqueness as it enters its seventh season, which premiered Sunday.
In the premiere episode, titled “Flu-ouise,” the Belchers — Bob, Linda and their kids Tina, Gene and Louise — accidentally break Louise’s favorite toy, Kuchi Kopi, and attempt to fix it to avoid her wrath. Meanwhile, Louise experiences a flu-fever dream in which her toys come to life, sing and teach her valuable lessons about forgiving her family.
As always, the voice acting on “Bob’s Burgers” is top notch, with every actor effectively bringing their character to life. Kristen Schaal, as Louise, is the focus of the episode and excels at showing the inner conflict of a 9-year-old girl angry with her family. H. Jon Benjamin pulls double duty, playing both the patriarch Bob and Kuchi Kopi, showing the breadth of his talent in playing two very different characters.
Gene (Eugene Mirman) may be the surprise MVP of the episode, providing a significant amount of the jokes, like the gem about Louise being so sick, but so strong — “like the economy.”
The supporting characters in “Bob’s Burgers” are just as interesting as the main family, like the ever-present handyman Teddy (Larry Murphy), who offers to help the family so he can watch a hockey game. Another highlight is the kooky owner (voiced by David Herman) of a toy shop Bob and Teddy visit, who reads them a story in a Gollum-like voice.
“Bob’s Burgers” is noteworthy for its use of music, an element used brilliantly in the season opener. In Louise’s dream, she interacts with her toys in a series of “Wizard of Oz”-like encounters in which the toys sing songs warning her about her journey. The songs are ridiculous but surprisingly catchy, and used sparingly enough to be comedic, but not over-the-top.
“Flu-ouise” is easily the best season premiere in seven seasons of “Bob’s Burgers.” It is innovative while not feeling like a filler episode and explores the dynamic of the family, who is at its best when they are all together. The show is incessantly clever, always a lot of fun and charming without being cloying. “Bob’s Burgers” has found its niche, and it’s just where it belongs.