Linda from Bob’s Burgers.
Much as your chances of seeing a good movie these days are vastly improved if you’ve chosen to see an animated flick, the percentage play when selecting TV comedy in the modern era is to watch a cartoon.
Starting with The Simpsons, moving through South Park, Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad and Archer, not to mention the more juvenile-targeted such as Adventure Time or Regular Show, the most efficient way to mine comedy gold nowadays is via characters that are drawn rather than dressed.
Bob’s Burgers (Eleven, 10.30pm) does not let us down on this front. Shunted to a secondary channel in a little-watched timeslot, BB will probably be the most enjoyable thing you’ll watch all week. This ep, ”Boyz 4 Now”, is named for the dreamy boy band whose concert Tina and Louise travel to, resulting in a disastrous emotional breakthrough for the cynical Louise.
Elsewhere Bob and Linda take Gene to the regional table-setting championships, where he endeavours to become a world-class table-scaper. Bob suggests Gene might want to set tables at home, but Gene explains, ”I don’t set where I eat.” Sceptical of the value of competitive table-setting at first, Gene’s parents quickly catch the fever, resulting in a disturbing push for victory.
Bob’s Burgers is all about this kind of offbeat, domestic weirdness. Eschewing the satirical or surreal approaches of other animations, BB’s characters operate with a sort of low-key eccentricity and the show is populated by the kind of people who start conversations at bus stops. At the concert and the table-setting tournament, situations escalate to a point of hysteria.
What makes the show sing, though, is dialogue that cracks like a whip, jokes flying thick and fast with precision timing, delivered by a peerless voice cast.
H. Jon Benjamin, voice actor king, leads the way as Bob, but in this episode the star is Kristen Schaal, who invests Louise with wicked charm, the voice of a child with the knowing snark of a woman.
Slightly staler is CSI (Nine, 9.45pm), the show about a gang of witty forensic investigators wildly exceeding their authority that has been running for about 80 years.
These days the team is led by Ted Danson, who some time between Cheers and CSI turned into an albino skeleton.
The CSI team is called on to investigate a mysterious car crash involving a crusading journalist, and it will take every ounce of over-loud music, people telling each other things they already know and lines such as ”What I believe in is evidence”, that they have at their disposal to unwind a complex conspiracy in which CSI has no business being involved.