Kids, go to your rooms. Most of you shouldn't watch this stuff. Adults, welcome back to the joys of edgy animation that is so definitely not suitable for impressionable young minds.
What again ignited this warning is the DVD debut of Bob's Burgers: The Complete 1st Season this week. It arrived on the heels of American Dad!: Volume 7 on DVD plus the release of South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season on both DVD and Blu-ray. Meanwhile, there is also Wizards: 35th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray to consider.
None is appropriate for youngsters, although the three TV series deal with family life, just from an adult perspective. Wizards has fairies and trolls, but Ralph Bakshi cuts through the fantasy with stylized, rotoscoped scenes of Hitler's Nazi hordes to make his points about fascism and war.
- Bob's Burgers: Sly, off-kilter and droll, this animated comedy follows the exploits of the Belcher family as Bob opens a greasy spoon joint next door to a crematorium. Just to underscore how odd and transgressive it gets, two of the three female characters on the show -- mother Linda and daughter Tina -- are voiced by men. The family is led by slovenly Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), a self-confessed loser. Like the restaurant, the ensemble of two parents and three kids is dysfunctional. Yet they are warm and loving and every episode is a moral tale. On the two-disc DVD, creator-producer Loren Bouchard reveals the show's origins. It was a speculative animation pitch to Fox and the original idea was to make the Belcher's into cannibals. That is something Bouchard is reluctant to admit now because "it's a little bit like lifting up your skirt and showing too much." But show-and-tell he does as he spins a fascinating anecdote of how the idea and the artwork evolved to produce a great little show.
- American Dad!: As usual, the release is uncensored and therefore dirtier than what is broadcast. The series, co-created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman, remains rude, crude and clever about sending up American family life, as well as the spy business. Example: The episode Gorillas in the Mist is vicious (yet illuminating) as Steve gets trapped in the zoo's gorilla exhibit and the silverback gorilla dad lectures Stan on good parenting. The DVD's key extra is I Love Patrick Stewart, a doc in which Barker admits that Stewart, who voices CIA's insane deputy director, elevates the entire show with elegance and wit.
- South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season: It is remarkable how well co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have maintained the quality and intensity of their socio-political commentary in this savage satire, despite continuing to indulge in their juvenile fascination with things scatological. Were these boys potty trained?
Besides 14 brilliant, uncensored episodes from the 2011 season, there is a unique 42-minute doc showing Stone and Parker at work, in the throes of manic creation. "We are just offensive people," they boast. Of course, there is so much more to their story than that, although they are offensive to many for their brazen portrayals of sex, violence and stupidity. The doc lets Stone and Parker tell some of that fascinating story in detail, right back to The Spirit of Christmas (1995).
- Wizards: Bakshi's psychedelic animation from 1977 is a cult favourite, although it does not stand up to scrutiny now because of how rough and awkward his animation style was then. Think of the new Blu-ray book edition as an historical artifact, a transition between kids cartoons and today's adult animation. For researchers, Bakshi is seen on the Blu-ray extras talking through a long, self-indulgent, yet interesting interview.