Tag Archives: Bob’s Burgers

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 30-27

27 Apr

All comedy all the time in this entry. Here we go.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here and 46-43 here and 42-39 here and 38-35 here and 34-31 here.

30. The Mindy Project – 2014: 30

The Mindy Project

It’s easy to bash shows for what they’re not, rather than what they are. I’m as guilty of this as anyone; I can’t really complete a sentence about Brooklyn Nine-Nine without talking about how it could be better, even though I watch it every week and laugh. For years, and with good reason, there were complaints from others as well as myself that the Mindy Project was solid but felt unfinished, like subsequent and slowly improving drafts rather than a final product. In particular, the show had  a problem assembling solid supporting characters. But sneakily during the end of its run on Fox, and onto Hulu, it’s become a smart, funny, rom com with one of the great sitcom relationships, between Danny and Mindy. In so many shows I complain about the two leads getting together, and I was definitely initially doubtful here but when it works, it works, and in Mindy it works and propels the show forward. Oh, and Morgan is fantastic; no blurb is complete without mentioning that.

29. New Girl – 2014: 11

New Girl

New Girl’s second half of its fourth season, the only stretch of episodes that aired last year, as the fifth didn’t begin until early 2016, didn’t quite live up to the hit percentage of the season’s first half, but was still easily back on track from New Girl’s off-kilter third season. Damon Wayans Jr. continues to be an excellent cast addition to the season, and really rounds out the ensemble nicely, providing an extra character to spice up the A and B plot combinations. There are plenty of classic funny New Girl moments this season that continue in the line of what has made the show work when it at its best, particularly from Nick, where the show relishes its sitcomness, digging deep into its over-the-top silliness and ridiculousness,. Some of the segments that when described sound incredibly stupid end up as show highlights between of the specific word choices and the performances and chemistry of the cast.

28: Bob’s Burgers – 2014: 15

Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is the best kind of show to watch before bed because it will always leave you smiling and send you off to dreamland in a positive mood. Most TV is serial, and that’s great, I prefer it that way, and most comedies now even have occasionally wrenching emotional arcs. These are all good things. Most comedies that aren’t serial are awkward, hard to watch, laugh-out-loud affairs. As they say, though, variety is the spice of life, and Bob’s Burgers is something else, a largely non-serial comedy which isn’t awkward but is both funny and disarmingly heartwarming, Bob’s Burgers in some ways hearkens back to the old tried-and-true pre-00s family sitcom in a more successful way than any current live action example, with plots focusing on different combinations of Belcher family members in most episodes ending in moments where the family, though they may have been fighting or on each others nerves over the past twenty minutes, truly loves each other and stands next to one another against the world. This could be cheesy and I’m as skeptical of easy emotional manipulation as anyone, but because the characters and their relationships are so lovable and well constructed, it works. Last fall’s Halloween episode where the family teams up to scare Louise, leading a legitimately shocked Louie to thank them profusely is just one example.

27. Childrens Hospital – 2014: Not Eligible

Childrens Hospital

Goofy; silly, and only vaguely and arbitrarily serial when it feels like it (the hospital remains in Brazil), Childrens Hospital is about as close to a cartoon as a live action show can be. It’s all about the laughs, and it’s fun, light and silly; because everything is so over the top, and obviously so far removed from the real world, there’s not any sense of awkwardness or hard-to-watchness.  Childrens Hospital has an ear for parody, rather than satire; the barbs are spot on, but delivered with a gentle touch. The best episode of the season may have been “Fan Fiction,” in which a fan contest winner gets an episode produced based on her script, complete with many of the tropes of the genre. “Home Life of a Doctor’ was also excellent, where Jewish doctor Glenn Richie goes home to dinner with his parents, evoking a pastiche of Woody Allen/Neil Simon old-school Jewish families.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 15-12

18 Mar

Two comedies, one drama, and one Netflix show that straddles both worlds. Here comes 15 through 12.

Intro here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here and 35-32 here and 31-28 here and 27-24 here and 23-20 here and 19-16 here and one-offs/shows ineligible for the list here.

15. Bob’s Burgers – 2013: 14

Bob's Burgers

Parks and Recreation, which we’ll get to shortly, has often been hailed for being a comedy of nice; people generally like each other and want to help, rather than hurt one another, despite their differences, and it shows. Bob’s Burgers, an animated family show, rather than a workplace live-action comedy, embodies that same concept; the love between the family members runs deep, and no matter the fights and scuffles that occur over the course of an episode, at the end the Belcher family stands by one another. There’s an underlying warmth beneath Bob’s Burgers that never feels forced. Even Louise (the April of the show, though I like Louise much better than April, which is a completely separate issue that I’m not sure I know how to explain offhand) comes around to sticking with her family in the end. Bob’s Burgers is funny, which is important, because it’s a comedy, but even more than funny, Bob’s Burger’s is fun. No current show is more guaranteed to put me in a good mood, or turn my frown upside down, than Bob’s Burgers. I like to watch episodes right before I go to sleep in the hopes that they will transfer to good dreams.

14. Orange is the New Black – 2013: 19

Orange is the New Black

What was once a dirty little secret is now party line; as far as breakout Netflix shows go, Orange is the New Black is better than House of Cards. The second season served up more of what made the first so loveable, women of all stripes and colors and classes, struggling to make it in a prison system that continually beats them down (figuratively always and occasionally literally). The women manage to find ways to work together more than seems possible considering how often the system tries to pit them against one another. This season featured a big bad who was pretty much unredeemable – Vee, who started running heroin into Litchfield. Just about every character outside of Vee, however, is shown from all sides, complex and nuanced, and unlike the first season, even the prison employees get to be shown as not all bad. It’s impressive how many characters Orange is the New Black juggles, making minor characters feel worthy in small but important ways. Pathos is a specialty of Orange is the New Black, and no show vacillates between comedy and drama better, with hilarious moments followed by heart wrenching emotion.

13. Parks and Recreation – 2013: 11

Parks and Recreation

The sixth season was not the best season of Parks and Recreation. It was probably the weakest outside of the first when the show didn’t really know what it was and who its characters were (and maybe parts of the second, where it was still figuring itself out). That said, the fact that even a weaker season of Parks and Recreation can finish this high speaks to the sheer base levels the writers and actors have reached on this show on a season-to-season, episode-to-episode basis. Parks and Recreation is a first-ballot TV Hall-of-Famer. There were certainly signs this season of a show ready for the end, with some plots that felt like retreads of earlier plots (Tom’s Bistro was a poor man’s Rent-a-Swag) and I was ridiculously frustrated with the way the season ended, with Leslie bailed out from making a difficult decision that had been the focus of much of the season. Still, the show is always funny and the characters are so deeply developed by now that the gears move pretty well even when they’re not at their best. The creators and writers know their characters and actors so well that even when I think the plots are a little off, the emotions and the humor aren’t. This isn’t Parks and Recreation’s finest hour, but there’s a reason why Parks & Rec will go down as one of the best sitcoms of all time.

12. Rectify – 2013: 3

Rectify

Rectify’s main contribution to television may be its ability to take slow, deliberate pacing, which is oft cited as a negative for many a show by myself and others, and ingeniously turn it into an asset. Rectify takes its own time and uses it to flesh out how protagonist Daniel Holden, recently released from death row after 20 years in a cell with little human contact, sees his family and the world anew. Daniel struggles to readjust, even as he still faces potential murder charges – the technicality on which he was set free only means the state will have to retry him from scratch. His family struggles equally, welcoming him home, as they want to be there for him, but aren’t sure how, and his return upends their lives. His sister played the most energetic role in freeing him, but is frustrated by her difficulties in getting him out of his shell. His youngest brother barely knew him at all. His stepbrother remains bitter towards him, resentful of how everyone treats a convicted murder as a returning prodigal son, but Rectify even makes sure to show him with humanity. Rectify tells a tale about a subject, and with a view, like no other show on TV, and while that in and of itself doesn’t make a show good, it remains a rare quality and impressive with a show that happens to be as good as Rectify.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 16-13

31 Jan

Three comedies, two of which air back to back, and one seven episode miniseries that has just about as much lack of humor to counter act all three comedies combined. 16 through 13 below.

16. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Andy Samburg and the gang

The best new comedy of last year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t perfect but it is far ahead of the curve for where most good sitcoms are at this point in their runs. Created by Parks and Rec veterans, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the work of writers who know what it’s like to start slow and build from there with the great Parks & Rec, and many of the errors from that show’s first season and a half aren’t present here. There’s still building and character establishing to do; it be nearly impossible for there not to be with a first year sitcom. But the elements are there, the jokes are fresh and funny, and the actors are good. Andre Braugher as I continue to shout to the world, is a national treasure whose presence should be, well, treasured wherever it is.

15. Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake to you, Elizabeth Moss

This is a seven episode miniseries, but that already means it’s longer than the 2013 output of some other recurring series on here so I’m including it. This is definitely a series that when I finished it, it both made me want to watch it again instantly because it was dense, confusing, and complicated, and never again because it was shocking and disturbing. Elizabeth Moss gives a bravura performance, as does Peter Mullan. If New Zealand is really like this, it’s a far scarier place than I had ever imagined. The mood is eerie, and it just feels like there’s something off with every character and every series of events, and I don’t mean off in a bad way, I mean rather like they’re not quite kosher. There’s seediness lurking everywhere, and Moss can’t rest for a second without risking someone turning on her, whether it be someone she knows or someone she does. It’s creepily meditative; before there was True Detective’s Rust Cohle, there was Holly Hunter’s GJ, spouting quasi-philosophical possible nonsense. All writing this makes me realize is that I really do need to see it again.

14. Bob’s Burgers

The Belchers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bob’s Burgers makes me smile. That’s about all there is to it. Don’t get me wrong, it also makes me laugh. In particular though, what makes Bob’s Burgers stand out amongst my favorite comedies is that there’s no show I’d rather watch before bed after a tough, stressful, or depressing day (or even a happy day, but there’s more leeway than). There’s no way that has the ability to change my bad mood and put me on the road towards pleasant dreams. I like dark humor, and I like cutting humor, and I like uncomfortable humor in different extents when done well. Sometimes though it’s nice to watch a comedy like Bob’s Burgers  that dispenses with any of those; that’s fun and zany and light, even when our favorite family is losing and Jimmy Pesto is putting it to Bob once again. The show has ramped up over the years, and the formula shows no signs yet of slowing down. I’m only sorry I didn’t jump on this bandwagon earlier, but I’m glad that the show keeps getting renewed without much stress.

13. New Girl

It's Jess! And friends

It’s been an interesting run for New Girl. The second half of the second season last spring featured a mind-bogglingly killer run of episodes that, had I been ranking right then, would have almost certainly put New Girl in the catbird seat for the highest ranking comedy, as it was last year (the second season was just really good overall). The third however, has had a higher share of fits and starts as the show tries to figure out how it’s going to handle Nick and Jess romance and deal with Schmidt and his relationship missteps. It’s still a first tier comedy, and almost all episode have laughs, but it’s seemed a little more inconsistent episode to episode. I’m still hopeful. It’s a good show with good actors by good people; they’ll probably figure it out. But a yearly review couldn’t be written without mention of its occasional third season struggles.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 Edition: 15-13

15 Feb

Here’s one piece of my ranking of all the shows that I watch in 2012 – the rules are here, and 15, 14, and 13 follow.

15.  Sherlock

Sherlock and Watson

Sherlock is the show with the most unusual airing schedule, as it only airs three episodes a season, but those three episodes are virtually movies, at an hour and a half each.  I seriously considered whether or not Sherlock should be considered, but it is a television show now with multiple seasons, and the length of the combined episodes is just about the length of a ten episode season of an HBO comedy, let alone a standard British comedy season.  It’s the second of two British shows on the list; as mentioned in the intro, I look forward to catching up on Peep Show and The Thick of It (and a couple of other British shows I’m far farther back on) but I’m not there yet.  There’s something about the Sherlock Holmes character the world has always loved and this new adaptation showcases that while smartly updating the show for modern times.  It takes enough from the actual stories for originalists to appreciate it, while adding enough to keep it fresh and current.  At the heart of any adaptation has to be the actors behind Sherlock and his assistant, John Watson, and their interactions, and Sherlock shines here as the work from Benedict Cumberpatch and Martin Freeman is exemplary.  Cumberbatch plays Sherlock as aloof and insensitive enough for some to despise but slightly caring and fascinating enough for Watson to look up to and care for.  The episodes are not even in quality, and the first and last has tended to be better in each season than the middle episodes, but overall it’s compelling television.

14.  Louie

Louie

I’ll admit to having a change of heart on Louie.  I was way behind the curve initially (and many will say I still am, ranking the show a lowly 14), but I’ve come around, slowly but surely.  I think I was initially put off by some combination of not understanding what the show was trying to be, in particular not being a big fan of the first couple of episodes I saw, and being a little bit turned off by the amount of stand up in the show (while I’m not immune to good stand up, it’s not my favorite form of comedy).  I’ll admit that it was my personal hang up for trying to put Louie in a box, and I struggled initially to figure out whether the show was trying to funny or serious or important or dry.  Eventually I just came to the conclusion that, well, Louie is a different show in different episodes, and that’s okay.  Some veer on uproarious, while some are deadly serious and not funny at all.  The first couple that I saw, I felt were a little bit too outlandish for the look and feel of the show, and seemed like they were unsuccessfully trying to be a less funny, more real Curb Your Enthusiasm.  However, after seeing some really winning episodes, particularly in the second season, I’m a full fledged fan, if not a fanatic.  Because of its nature, some episodes are vastly superior to others, but when it hits all the right notes, there’s some seriously poignant television that is definitely like nothing else on the air.  Louie specializes in a reality based awkwardness; unlike Larry David in Curb or David Brent in The Office, Louie is generally the reasonable character in his situations.  My favorite segments are less the ridiculously awkward ones than some of the amusing vignettes, such as the last season episodes where he and Robin Williams attend a funeral together, and when he apologizes to Marc Maron.

13.  Bob’s Burgers

Bob and Family

If you told me a year ago that I’d be ranking Bob’s Burgers here, I’d have told you you were crazy.  In fact, I’d have told you, I hadn’t even ever seen Bob’s Burgers, because, well, it looked pretty dumb, I didn’t have a lot of people I knew or respected telling me to watch, and it was buried in a network slot in a way that I largely forgot about its existence after the first wave of commercials that came with its debut.  I’m not sure why though; when I looked even a little deeper, I realized it’s by Home Movies co-creator Loren Bouchard and features voice actors H. Jon Benjamin, Eugene Mirman, and Kristen Schaal, all of whom I’m fans.  After some prodding, I took the plunge with some friends, and while the first one I saw wasn’t great, it had enough to get me on to a second episode.  From there I just couldn’t believe how much I liked the show for a show I had, until then, not even seriously considered watching; it wasn’t merely that I just hadn’t gotten to it but had meant to.  It’s a pure joy to watch.  Many of my favorite shows are heavy or awkward or serious but Bob’s Burgers is none of those things and that makes it a great show to put right before you go to sleep to leave you with a smile on your face.  It’s constantly funny, and every single character gets a moment to shine.  While I probably prefer Bob, Louise and Gene, they’re all great, and I think, like in great shows like Arrested Development, any given person could have a different favorite character order.  When I recommend this show, I have found other people equally surprised by how much they like it, and I plan on keep spreading the wealth, pleased by the fact that when many of my favorites shows are getting cancelled, Bob’s has been renewed for a fourth season.