Flipping Bob's Burgers
LB: Well, in the pilot we had this gag where he had the less than inspired "New Bacon-ings" because it was their grand re, re-opening. And then his daughter erased it and changed it to: "The Child Molester -- Comes with Candy."
BD: What have you learned so far?
LB: Once you establish a family, it doesn't mean that you then go and write a bunch of interesting outside characters and dress up the world and tell the story of the family vs. the world. What was good to realize was that, ideally, if an audience likes that family, they want more of that family. And they are perfectly fine to have the family in conflict with each other: that's basic sitcom writing wisdom. But I forget -- and I think a lot of writers forget-- that we're living with a show so much longer than an audience and a new character is like a new toy that you want to play with. But I think the best thing that we've learned or at least have been reminded of a few times with this show is to just keep going back to your core characters and keep finding out new things about them, inventing new conflicts for them to have and discovering new ways that they're funny. That's what our job is first and foremost: everything else is adding texture and color to a world that is entirely based on those five characters.
BD: What about the animation?
LB: The production company that we're working with here in LA is Bento Box. They are a new company but are old hands. Mark McJimsey is one of the principals and he worked on The Simpsons and then King of the Hill for its entire run. They're in the process of acquiring Film Roman. And then we're doing something new: we're not sending traditional animation to Korea; we're working digitally with Bardel in Vancouver using Harmony. So we do the boards and the audio and the character design and background design here, and then it's all animated in Vancouver by Bardel.
LB: It's good: I think this is the first time that Harmony has been used on a network show like this. I have nothing to compare it to except I've always worked this way because I come from much lower budgeted shows where we didn't have the option of working traditionally. So for me, it's very familiar. For a lot of people here who worked on King of the Hill and other shows, it's a little unfamiliar. And there clearly are advantages and disadvantages and we're striving to not make it obvious to the viewer. We're hoping you can watch The Simpsons and then Bob's and not have to shift gears in any way and change your expectation of what the animation is going to do.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.