BOB’S BURGERS: THE COMPLETE 1ST SEASON
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Additional bonus features include two Fox Movie Channel bits, one looking at what it was like to grow up with your parents doing “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and the other as a spotlight on Jason Lee. Last fall, “Bob’s Burgers” filled the slot in the Fox animation block that was previously held by “King of the Hill.” Like the other shows in that block, this animated series is not for the kids, but it features them in the most uncomfortable of situations. The show follows a family that runs and lives above a burger restaurant in an unnamed coastal town. The family struggles to keep their business afloat while the parents deal with the crazy nature of the kids.
AMERICAN DAD!: VOLUME 7
What started with “The Simpsons” more than twenty years ago has blossomed into a huge enterprise for Fox. It continues to dominate the marketplace in adult-natured cartoons with only and occasional cable series like “South Park” or something from the Adult Swim line to give it any competition.
With the shows from Seth MacFarlane crowding the marketplace, this is a welcome break from what has become the standard (and it plays so much fresher than that “Cleveland Show” spin-off). It’s a more subtle comedy than either “The Simpsons” or the MacFarlane line, throwing in a lot of dry humor from the parents. The zaniness and freshness comes from the children, mainly because they don’t feel like retreads of other animated, inappropriate children from other shows.
Making jokes about child molesters, puberty, necrophilia, cannibalism and good, old-fashioned murder, “Bob’s Burgers” doesn’t shy away from topics. Still, it’s not overtly a gross-out show, either.
The anchor of the show is Bob, voiced by H. John Benjamin, whom many people will recognize as the voice of Archer in his own series. In fact, I like to think of this series as a long-form undercover assignment for Isis in a parallel universe where Sterling Archer is actually a committed spy.
However, the charm comes from the kids. The obvious one is Louise, voiced by Kristen Schaal (oddly enough, the only woman who voices one of the three main female roles). She’s the Bart Simpson or Eric Cartman of the bunch, playing dangerously precocious and manipulating situations. However, the son Gene, who seems to be a bit of a moron with some alarming health problems, has some great moments too.
But I think my favorite character is the other daughter, Tina, who was originally conceived as a boy. After reworking the character, the show kept the male voice but made her a girl budding into her own pubescent sexuality. She’s as awkward as they come, and she the driest of the bunch in terms of humor, but this makes her one of the most unique animated sit com kids I’ve seen in a while.
It’s not the most watched show in the Fox animation block, but it should be. “Bob’s Burgers” has great potential and already has shown some excellent humor in its first season.
The DVD set comes with 13 episodes on two discs. Special features include audio commentary on all episodes, audio outtakes for two episodes, the original demo with an introduction by the series creator, a music video and a spotlight on Louise as she explains how the command structure works in her family.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Years ago, I discovered “American Dad!” before I even became a watcher of “Family Guy.” So, while it’s the second big Seth MacFarlane show to hit it big, it was my first. And I loved it even more than I did “Family Guy.” (Don’t get me wrong... I enjoy “Family Guy,” too, but there’s something sharper about “American Dad!”)
JANE BY DESIGN: VOLUME ONE
Now, the seventh volume is being released on DVD, and it’s still fun to watch. It’s become less of an overtly funny show that relies on zinging gags steeped in topical political humor. Now, it’s just become one of the most bizarre family sit coms out there.
Strangely, this volume of “American Dad!” features more character-driven stories that fit in this bizarre, whimsical universe than previous years. Additionally, there wasn’t a huge themed episode that acted as an anchor, like the “World of Warcraft” and James Bond spoofs a few years back or the vision of the apocalypse last year. I didn’t find myself laughing as much as I had in the past – even at the antics of Roger – but I was still into the show.
The biggest story arc in this volume features the marriage of Hayley to her hippie boyfriend and the difficulty Stan has in accepting this. Topics covered include jury duty, white slavery, dating and the death of 100 characters from previous shows.
In a strange way, with the blossoming of Roger as the main character of the show almost as much as Stan, “American Dad!” has become a bit of a science fiction series wrapped inside a snarky cartoon. It’s got the same charm this year, but it’s become standard for the show. That’s not a complaint, but rather an acceptance that the show isn’t necessarily fresh but still a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
The DVD comes with uncensored dialogue (which means a handful of f-bombs throughout the 19 episodes) on two discs. Special features are still in this set, which is nice to see for a seventh volume. There’s commentaries on select episodes, a ton of deleted scenes, a spotlight on the “American Dad!” panel at Comic-Con 2010 and a featurette on extremely game cast member Patrick Stewart.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
With the success of series like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” ABC Family has launched a new series called “Jane By Design.” The show follows high schooler Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) who, in an attempt to help make ends meet, stumbles into a job as an assistant in the fashion industry. Her cold boss Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell) is a handful, but she’s also got a soft side. Jane must juggle work and school and keep her secret life from both sides.
At first blanch, my biggest issue with this series is that it’s a bit of a rip-off of Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson, V.P.,” which features a teen that becomes an unlikely mogul in the fashion world. They’re two different show, both in format and structure (“Jane By Design” being an hour-long single-camera dramedy while “True Jackson, V.P.” is a multi-camera half-hour sit com), but the premise is alarmingly similar. Add to this the fact that elements of ABC Studios’ “Ugly Betty” and the hit film “The Devil Wears Prada” seeps in periodically, and “Jane By Design” loses marks for being unoriginal.
Still, the teens who are watching the series probably haven’t seen either of those shows because they were before their time. I guess that’s okay in Hollywood terms.
Ultimately, “Jane By Design” follows the same types of stories found in the other ABC Family series like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Switched at Birth,” showing boy trouble and family strife. there’s not a lot of surprises in the scripts, which is derivative of the premise, but for an average family-friendly dramedy, it’ll have an audience.
Ten episodes of the first season are included on two discs. No special features are offered.
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