'Bob's Burgers' ready to serve up more good stories

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March 8, 2012 8:44 am
  • The Belcher Family returns for a second season of "Bob's Burgers" Sunday night on Fox.
    The Belcher Family returns for a second season of "Bob's Burgers" Sunday night on Fox.
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PASADENA, Calif. -- Fox's "Bob's Burgers" debuted last season and quietly developed into a cult phenomenon, improving creatively through its first season and earning a second season that debuts Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on WPGH.

Series creator Loren Bouchard ("Dr. Katz," "Home Movies") said "Bob's Burgers" had a long period of development that gave the producers and cast time to tweak the show and learn to adhere to an ethic of telling stories with Bob's family at the center.

'Bob's Burgers'

When: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox.

"The easy thing to do when you write episode after episode is bring in the strange new character versus the family and I think we learned in the first season to write stories where the family are butting heads and extra characters are the gravy and not the meat," Mr. Bouchard said in January during Fox's portion of the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

So the focus in season two remains on Bob (voice of H. Jon Benjamin, "Archer"), wife Linda (John Roberts) and children Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal, "Flight of the Conchords") and their home base of the Bob's Burgers diner. But with the setting established, Mr. Bouchard is not afraid to grow the world in the same way that other animated shows have gotten more specific as they go along.

"It's a great nerdy pleasure to start mapping it out," he said. "You start knowing how the kids walk to school. You start knowing how big a cruise ship can dock down at the port before they dredge the harbor. It's very sort of municipal."

Sunday's season premiere features Bob's kids exploring an abandoned taffy factory. Another episode features a bank robbery near Bob's Burgers.

"Channel 6 News, they'll finger anything with a pulse!" Gene says when a news truck arrives on the scene.

"I'm pretty sure their slogan is their fingers' on the pulse," Bob corrects him. Although not entirely unique to animation -- Bart Simpson on "The Simpsons" is voiced by a woman -- "Bob's Burgers" has two primary cast members who play the opposite of their own gender. Both Bob's wife Linda and daughter Tina are brought to life by men.

"It was different in each case," Mr. Bouchard said. For Linda, Mr. Roberts was already doing a character on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTs5eKZ0i1E ) inspired by his Brooklyn-born mom, Marge.

"Around 2006 I started posting videos online," Mr. Roberts said. "But I've been doing [the voice] my whole life."

The role of Tina was originally written to be a boy but Fox executives were looking for maximum differentiation among the characters. Switching genders and retaining the same voice actor satisfied Fox executives' concerns.

"I was very skeptical," Mr. Mintz said of the change from playing a boy named Daniel to playing husky-voiced Tina. "They sent me a sample animation they made and it actually worked."

To accomplish the gender change, Mr. Mintz's voice is slightly altered -- "a half semitone," Mr. Bouchard said -- from his natural voice.

"No one ever told me I have a girl's voice," Mr. Mintz said. "But one of my best friends, we made fun of him because he had a girl's voice so he thought this was the funniest thing ever."

A version of this story first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.
First Published 2012-03-07 23:12:50

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