How do you keep good Burgers from going stale? Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard has an idea or two.
For the Fox comedy’s eighth season, Bouchard is keeping things fresh with a special premiere (airing Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET) that features animation drawn by the winners of a fan contest. “Basically every scene is in a new style drawn by a fan,” he says of the episode, which is appetizingly titled “Brunchsquatch.” “It’s definitely exciting to see the characters in a new way, though it remains to be seen whether it’s a fun way to watch an episode.”
But if you hate change, Bouchard promises plenty of Bob’s hallmarks: goofy musical numbers, holiday high jinks, and a Tina-centric episode titled “Sit Me Baby One More Time.” Also, naked Adam Driver? Sort of? We asked Bouchard all about that and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the fan-drawn premiere, “Brunchsquatch” — where did the idea come from, and what’ll it look like?
LOREN BOUCHARD: So it’s a bit of an experiment. We wanted to celebrate the fan art that we’ve been watching and kind of collecting and trying to celebrate as much as possible for years now. We put as much of it as we can online. We put them in the comic book when we were doing the comic book, but it became intriguing to us to actually see the characters move. Then we realized we wanted to steal a lot of our fans’ work! So we put out a call for submissions. We ended up selecting something like 52 of them [fan-submitted art pieces], both backgrounds and foregrounds, and so while you’re watching the premiere episode, basically every scene is in a new style drawn by a fan.
We’ll see if it’s great. [Laughs] I mean, I think what’s great about it is that it’s definitely exciting to see the characters in a new way and actually hear their voices out. It remains to be seen whether it’s a fun way to watch an episode. I think I’ll be really interested to find out whether people enjoy the episode as an episode, but we were willing to take that chance. We thought that it needed to be done, in a way.
How do you think it stacks up in the pantheon of Bob’s Burgers episodes?
Oh, well, I love episodes that take place in the restaurant. We always try to return to the restaurant and honor the central premise of the show. We take it kind of seriously. This is a family that runs a restaurant, so I love it for that reason and many others. We have also a couple guest actors that did a really good job, including John Early, who we just loved working with. He was just a wonderful voice.
What else is coming up this season? Any early favorites?
So after “Brunchsquatch” comes “The Silence of the Louise,” which is our nod to Silence of the Lambs. It’s got the return of the Millie character, who I personally love. She’s Louise’s nemesis, played by Molly Shannon. She’s just a really fantastic character, and one of our writers, Greg Thompson, figured out a perfect way to bring her back.
And then we go to a Thanksgiving episode, which is called “Thanks-Hoarding,” and it’s a real Teddy episode. He’s a very special character, obviously. Outside of our family, he’s one of our most precious characters in the world, and I like doing stories that expand on characters that are outside of the family. We’ve beat this story up, broke it two different ways, and then realized that we wanted to tell a Thanksgiving story about Teddy in which he’s getting ready to cook a meal for his family.
He ends up calling on Bob and the rest of the Belchers to help him, and that’s when we discover that he is a hoarder, which is… we tried to handle sweetly and lovingly, because some of us know and love and even are hoarders ourselves. So it’s a gentle hoarding episode, if you will. It’s also the first deep dive into Teddy’s home.
The show always goes all out for Halloween — will that be the case this year?
Yes! We’re calling it “The Wolf of Wharf Street.” It’s got one plotline that follows Linda and the kids trick-or-treating on a night when there are unconfirmed rumors that a wolf has been seen in the town. There’s this sort of mood, and there’s a bit of a scare.
That’s one plotline, and meanwhile, Bob is laid up with a knee injury. We play up this idea that we’ve done in the past where Bob seems to have a rather extreme reaction to pain medication. He has a full-blown paranoid episode, and hopefully we’ll put people in the mindset of a proper psychological thriller in honor of Halloween.
That episode has great guests, too — Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis returning as Felix, and Pamela Adlon is our newscaster.
What about the kids? Any good Tina story lines coming up?
Well, before Christmas, we’ll air a babysitting episode called “Sit Me Baby One More Time,” where Tina tries to kind of expand her babysitting business outside of the family for the first time. She tries to be a young entrepreneur and take on babysitting jobs and ends up finding herself in competition with Tammy. That one guest-stars Maria Bamford.
Also in that episode, the rest of the family goes out to dinner because Linda won a gift certificate — and it becomes this exploration of how Bob is in other peoples’ restaurants.
Is he a bad guest at restaurants that aren’t his own?
Well, he’s great until it comes to burgers, and then it turns out… I don’t want to give away too much, but we find out he’s always talking about how bad everyone else’s burgers are.
What’s the situation with musically oriented episodes this year?
For Christmas, we’ve got an hour-long musical Christmas special. We got asked for it by Fox, and we were more than happy to agree. It was a bit of a surprise. We weren’t planning on doing an hour-long episode at all. We hadn’t done that before. We’ve done two-parters, to-be-continued style. But never an hour-long.
So we got excited — we wanted it to feel sort of epic. We didn’t want it to just feel like a normal episode padded out. So it really has almost a feature-like quality, almost a little bit cinematic. It’s got a real adventure feel to it. It’s called “The Bleakening,” and it has elements of The Grinch. These kids come to believe that there’s a real creature, a sort of spirit that is casting a shadow over Christmas — and that it has in fact stolen Linda’s mini-Christmas tree in the restaurant. So there’s this great effort to get at the truth and find the missing Christmas tree, with music throughout. We’ve been able to see our characters break into song and it doesn’t seem to break the show. I feel like having the ability to do real musical storytelling — it’s a nice change-up pitch for us. I wouldn’t do it too often, but I think it’s really great that our characters in our world seem to support that without it feeling forced or otherwise inorganic. That was really gratifying, that we can set out to basically try to do a show that has glorified musical numbers in it and have it feel like an episode of Bob’s.
I imagine there are a few special guests in that one, then?
Yeah. We have a really an interesting performance by Adam Driver in that episode, and a guy… let me pull up his name. A really great singer came in and did a number. I believe his name is… Todrick! Todrick Hall. We needed a knockout singer for a surprise musical number. We have the characters find themselves in a very odd underground rave, and we needed a guest voice to come in with basically the voice of an angel, so we got this guy Todrick Hall, and he did a fantastic job for us.
What can you say about Adam Driver’s character?
His character is a life model, so he’s nude when we first meet him. He’s at this little get-together Linda has, and his character is nude while singing. And even though we didn’t need to, we asked Adam Driver to be nude while he was singing it, and he was really nice enough to agree. [Laughs] This was in the back of a Reflections art supply store where there’s a free life drawing class.
You guys have had such great luck with guest voices over the years. Is there anyone out there you’re still trying to get?
You know, it’s funny. I’ve given up having white whales. We’ve done so well with luck and our low-to-the-ground, friends-of-friends casting style that in a way, I want to keep going with that. If I had it in my head that we’ve got to get Paul McCartney as a Beatles fan or whatever, I think it wouldn’t be true to the way the show has been cast up to this point. I love working with people who want to be there and who are excited to record with our actors and fool around in the recording process. So I kind of feel like the best person, the white whale, if you will, is somebody I don’t even know about yet, you know what I mean?
There is somebody who I haven’t heard of who will emerge in the next year and will be our next favorite guest character, and it’s just been that way all along throughout our whole system. We’ve just been so lucky to work with the people we’ve worked with, and I wouldn’t want to take up one of their slots with some guy that I’ve… with, like, Bill Murray. Now, of course, I would love to work with Bill Murray, but you know what? Maybe we could give that character to somebody who is starting their career.
Final question for you: Who’s the best singer in the cast?
They’re all going to win awards and have long careers in professional singing. Nobody’s better than anybody else.
Very diplomatic answer.
Thank you. But probably Kevin Kline!