[This is a review of the Bob’s Burgers season 7 premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
Over the course of its run, FOX's primetime animated comedy series Bob's Burgers has earned critical acclaim, awards recognition, and a dedicated fan following. Created by Loren Bouchard, Bob's Burgers focuses on the Belcher family, who own and run a hamburger joint in an unnamed seaside town. The animated antics of Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), Linda (John Roberts), Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal), have entertained fans for six seasons and will continue for another two.
Last year on Bob's Burgers, the season 6 premiere followed a classic story structure employed by the series as each of the Belcher children came up with their own stories for what could have happened if their parents hadn't gotten together. Then, Bob's Burgers closed out its sixth season with an episode of the show at its best — complete with the Belchers' shenanigans and a musical number. Now, Bob's Burgers is kicking off season 7 in much the same fashion, somewhat combining the setups of its season 6 premiere and finale.
'Flu-ouise' — written by Nora Smith and directed by Tyree Dillihay — features guest star Amy Schumer (Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer) and picks up while Louise is recovering from a particularly nasty bout of the flu, but her family accidentally melts her beloved Kuchi Kopi nightlight. Although Bob and his best friend Teddy (Larry Murphy) try to replace the nightlight, the youngest Belcher vows she'll never forgive her family. Then, in a musical fever dream, Louise goes on a Wizard of Oz-style adventure featuring characters resembling the people in her life. 'Flu-ouise' is an episode that combines much of what has always worked for Bob's Burgers: musical numbers, pop culture references, a uniquely quirky sense of humor, and a heartwarming — if offbeat — story rooted in family.
The season premiere kicks off in typical Bob's Burgers fashion, picking up with the Belcher family on what appears to be a normal day. However, in the case of 'Flu-ouise', the youngest child arrives home from school with the flu bug that's been going around town. Given her aversion to school, Louise is over the moon about being sick — even as Linda warns of the bizarre fever dreams that accompanied her own bout of the illness. However, in true Louise style, she acclimates to being sick by using an air horn to alert her family when they're needed.
It's during one of these instances when Louise requests her Kuchi Kopi toy; but, through a series of events in which Linda drops the toy in the toilet, Tina suggests putting it in the oven, and Bob fails to understand his oven, Kuchi Kopi is melted beyond recognition. Louise reacts as badly as her family members (and viewers who have been watching Bob's Burgers for six seasons) anticipated, vowing to never forgive them. But, she falls
asleep through a portal in her floor and wakes in the dark and gloomy world of her fever dream along with a life-size version of the disfigured Kuchi Kopi.
What follows is an abbreviated Wizard of Oz-style narrative, with Louise and Kuchi Kopi traveling through her fever dream world to the toy's fortress where they can be alone. But, the pair face a trio of obstacles taking the form of Louise's other toys, though with the voices of Bob, Linda, Tina, and Gene. Each of the toys attempt to clue Louise in on the fact that the fortress is detrimental to the world — "That fortress is the worst and I think it’s kinda cursed, as you can see it has immersed us in this darkness." However, Louise defeats each obstacle and makes it to the fortress where she meets the good Kuchi Kopi doll, who finally teaches her to forgive her family
While the metaphor of the episode is anything but subtle, it's delivered with the same charm fans of Bob's Burgers have come to expect from the series — plus Louise points out midway through that it's a metaphor. The musical numbers, though brief, are as catchy as any performed previously on the series, and the confrontation between the good and bad Kuchi Kopi dolls are an offbeat and hilarious riff on the classic "good angel, bad angel" trope. Additionally, choosing to focus the season premiere on Bob's Burgers' most hot-tempered and boisterous character helped to elevate 'Flu-ouise' above an average episode, though the musical numbers helped in this endeavor as well.
Outside of the fever dream, the Bob's Burgers season 7 premiere wasn't quite as strong. Certainly, the Belcher family scrambling to fix Louise's Kuchi Kopi, then replace it, has all the entertainment of a typical Bob's Burgers episode, but the story arc loses a little bit of steam when Bob and Teddy head to the toy store (called About A Toy) to find a replacement. This scene is when Schumer's guest role comes in, though she simply plays another customer of the store pleading with the shop owner to give her a much needed toy. The guest spot is largely forgettable and briefly derails the main arc of the episode as viewers are pulled away from the Belchers and Kuchi Kopi.
That said, on the whole Bob's Burgers delivers another solid start to a season. Although 'Flu-ouise' perhaps could have used a tighter story when it comes to Bob replacing the Kuchi Kopi toy, the episode is filled with what fans have come to know and love about the series, from its silly humor and catchy songs to its heavy-handed messages and themes of family. Among the catalogue of Bob's Burgers episodes, 'Flu-ouise' certainly stands out - as it should as a season premiere.
As for whether Bob's Burgers will head into another successful season, it's a good bet the show will continue to debut even more fun episodes following the Belcher family. The Fox animated series has hit its stride, providing weekly adventures that capitalize on goofy humor and, at the end of the day, a family that loves each other — well, on the occasions that Bob's Burgers airs on a weekly basis. So, it's likely that fans can expect season 7 of Bob's Burgers to provide as many laughs as 'Flu-ouise', if not more.
Bob's Burgers season 7 continues Sunday, October 9 at 7:30pm with 'Sea Me Now' on FOX.