Monday, September 16, 2013

Fox Fall Pilot Review: Dads - Premieres September 17; ABC Family's 2013 13 Nights of Halloween

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Dads - Tuesdays at 8:00PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:00PM ET/PT


by Skees

Family dysfunction from some of the minds that brought you Family Guy goes live action and multi-camera in his latest sitcom, Dads. The series follows Eli and Warner (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi who could be having it all going well for them as they own their own video game company. The problem? They have to come home each and every night to their obnoxious and classless fathers David and Crawford (Peter Riegert and Martin Mull). They're the sort of fathers who will walk around the house nude and see nothing wrong with it. It all just becomes a part of everyday life in Dads.

Cast Details:
Giovanni Ribisi as Warner
Seth Green as Eli
Martin Mull as Crawford
Peter Riegert as David
Brenda Song as Veronica
Tonita Castro as Edna
Vanessa Lachey as Camilla

Giovanni Ribisi (Warner) is an accomplished actor who has played in plenty of films including Boiler Room, Saving Private Ryan, The Mod Squad, Ted, and Gangster Squad. His career began, however, in sitcoms, with roles in The New Leave it to Beaver, Married... with Children, The Wonder Years, and My Two Dads. More recently, he played the recurring role of Ralph on My Name is Earl.

Seth Green (Eli) also had a start in sitcom guest starring roles, including The Facts of Life, Mr. Belvedere, The Wonder Years, among others. More recently, a lot of his work has been in the animated field, doing voices for series such as Family Guy, Robot Chicken (for which he is also co-creator), and even video game voices.

Martin Mull (Crawford, Warner's father) is a comedian who got his start in the syndicated late night soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as well as spinoff Fernwood 2 Night. Younger viewers will recognize him from his semi-regular roles on Roseanne and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Peter Riegert (David, Eli's father) began his career on the stage, making his way to Broadway, but made a name for himself on screen with his debut in National Lampoon's Animal House. He has also had roles in series such as The Sopranos and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Brenda Song (Veronica, Eli and Warner's assistant) will be instantly recognizable to younger viewers from her role on the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck. Her Disney Channel credits also include the original movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.

Tonita Castro (Edna, Eli's maid) has appeared in series such as Dexter, Glee, and Raising Hope. Most recently, she was a regular on the NBC series Go On.

Vanessa Lachey (Camilla, Warner's wife) has appeared in series including City Guys, 30 Rock, and CSI: NY. She has also served as correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and host of MTV's Total Request Live.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Tuesday, September 17 at 8:00PM ET/PT)

The pilot begins with viewers being introduced to Eli and Warner. Warner is happily married, and blessed to also have a third family member living in his home. Unfortunately, that third family member happens to be his obnoxious father who always seems to be in the way. Eli has things a bit better as he is living the single life and not having to worry about his father, who has never really been in his life anyway.

"Heckuva Job, Brownie" (airs Tuesday, September 24 at 8:00PM ET/PT)

The second episode of the series finds Eli in desperate need of creating a new idea for a video game to hit store shelves in time for the holiday season. He finds the task to be a bit difficult, so Warner and Veronica turn him to a source that had inspired him in the past: marijuana. He manages to get some brownies laced with pot, but when his father decides to have a brownie for a late night snack, the guys may have found a way to keep control of their obnoxious fathers.

Analysis:

I'm a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane's animated comedies, and I've also been reading a lot about this series over the past few months... particularly about critics universally panning it. I didn't buy into the hysteria myself and decided to wait until I actually had a chance to watch it. Now, having watched it, I have to say that I completely agree. Seth MacFarlane is a talented man, but he didn't really transfer those talents that he had for animated comedy (or even his feature film Ted) to the live-action small screen in this series, for which he is executive producer.

The first episode of the series was almost completely unwatchable. It just felt like a string of dysfunctional family comedy without any real plot. Of course, an unfortunate thing about pilots is that they are usually forced to spend a lot of time introducing the premise of the series, but this series really had a simple enough premise that it wasn't quite as necessary. But it still dragged on, and it was almost a painful 20 minutes to sit through. This isn't even to mention the criticism that the series has received from Asian anti-defamation groups regarding the portrayal of Asians in this episode, and even if that doesn't bother you, I think it is safe to say that it really wasn't anything particularly funny.

In all fairness, though, I do have to say that the second episode, "Heckuva Job, Brownie," was an improvement over the first episode. The plot about giving the dads pot brownies to mellow them out is certainly one that hasn't been overused in sitcoms. In fact, I'm not sure that any sort of plot like that has ever been used (although there is probably one to prove me wrong). It provided a bit of humor, but then again, there still wasn't a lot else going on with the episode.

One thing that I do see as a positive, though, is the return of truly dysfunctional comedy (at least in live action form) to the Fox lineup. Despite what the Fox lineup is now with series like Glee, we can't forget that it was series like Married... with Children, In Living Color, and The Simpsons (which still airs, but has become a lot less dysfunctional in recent years) that built the network. Those series were never afraid to push the limits, and sitcoms like that have been scarce in recent years. I'd like to see more series that push the limit, and this is one... I'm just not sure that it'll work out in the end.


Conclusion:

I don't like being so pessimistic, but regardless, I feel like this may be "the one," as in the first one to get the axe before midseason. In fact, I'm not seeing this going too far at all... although I have been wrong about these things before. A lot of times, when a series offends a group of people before it even airs, it is already off to a bad start. But the fact that it starts out as a poorly executed idea on a lineup that features Fox's current breed of more sophisticated sitcoms (well, comparatively at least) doesn't seem to inspire a lot of hope for this series. Maybe upcoming episodes beyond the first two will provide some plots that bring in more interest for viewers, but right now, I'm not seeing a lot coming from this series.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Dads Photo Gallery

    Preview:







  • ABC Family scares up the 2013 13 Nights of Halloween celebration, with programming filled with scares and frights as you countdown to Halloween. The popular programming event, now in its 15th year, starting Saturday, October 19 and concludes on Thursday, October 31, features a brand new episode of Pretty Little Liars and the highly anticipated premiere of spin-off series Ravenswood on Oct. 22. The stunt will also include the ABC Family feature film premiere of Men in Black, the network premiere of Disney·Pixar's Toy Story OF TERROR! on Oct. 20, and a ghoulish mix of Halloween-themed programming airing for the 13 nights leading up to Halloween. The 15th annual 13 Nights of Halloween launches an all day scarefest with a mini marathon of sitcom The Middle, featuring all of the Heck family's Halloween hijinks to-date from 7:00-8:30 AM ET/PT.

    Relive your favorite moments from this season's search for Red Coat in a Pretty Little Liars marathon from 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM ET/PT, featuring 9 back-to-back episodes filled with creepy text messages and even creepier gifts from "A". Then break out your Halloween finery as the Liars attend a very unusual costume party on a special brand new Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars at 8:00 PM ET/PT. Watch Pretty Little Liars' Caleb as he steps into a new town where things are stranger than even he's ever seen in the highly anticipated premiere of new series Ravenswood at 9:00 PM ET/PT. Additionally you can catch encores of the Ravenswood premiere at 10:00 PM ET/PT and 1:00 AM ET/PT, with the Pretty Little Liars Halloween episode airing in between at 12:00 AM ET/PT. Ravenswood will then move to its regular time of 8:00 PM beginning Oct. 29, while Pretty Little Liars will return for its winter season in January. View the full ABC Family 13 Nights of Halloween line-up for 2013.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Tuesday, October 16

    The Conners - "Keep on Truckin'" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.

    The Kids Are Alright - "Pilot" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Lawrence, the prodigal eldest Cleary son, returns home from the seminary and breaks the news to his family that he’s dropping out for good, leaving Mike and Peggy upset and wondering why. Meanwhile, Timmy decides he wants to audition for a children’s theatre production but when Peggy finds out where it’s being held she forbids him from participating. Elsewhere, Eddie tries to keep his girlfriend a secret after Frank finds out and tries to blackmail him.

    black-ish - "Gap Year" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    After dropping Junior off at college, Dre and Bow are beside themselves when they find him back at home announcing his decision to take a gap year. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane begin to question whether they should still be sharing a room.

    Splitting Up Together - "Sign Language" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    The morning after Lena and Martin sleep together, Lena searches for signs that they are or aren’t meant to be a couple. Their relationship is put to the test after she organizes a romantic beach getaway and it becomes apparent what’s meant to be. Meanwhile, Arthur and Camille trail Lisa Apple, hoping to determine if she is pregnant with Martin’s baby. Elsewhere, Maya struggles to decide if she should tell her new boyfriend, Frank, about her pregnancy.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 15)

    Tuesday, October 16

    • John Krasinski (The Office) - Catch John on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Kathryn Hahn (I Love Dick/Happyish/Transparent/Free Agents) - Kathryn stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa drops by Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm. She also talks about Can You Ever Forgive Me? on the BUILD Series at 12pm.
    • Jane Curtin (3rd Rock from the Sun/Kate & Allie) - Jane visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Laurence Fishburne (black-ish) - Laurence chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Nathan Fillion (Two Guys and a Girl) - Nathan talks about The Rookie on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Katy Mixon (American Housewife/Mike & Molly) - Katy is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Sara Gilbert (The Conners/Roseanne/Bad Teacher/The Big Bang Theory and John Goodman (The Connners/Roseanne/The Trouble in Normal, Ohio) - Sara and John are guests on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John appears on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
    • Heather Dubrow (Stark Raving Mad) - Heather is a guest on People Now at 12pm.
    • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace visits NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced/The Nanny/Living with Fran) - Fran talks about hosting Cancer Scchmancer's Master Class Health Summit on E!'s Daily Pop at 12pm.
    • Analeigh Tipton (Manhattan Love Story) - Analeigh talks about her movie Better Start Running on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

    The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

    09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
    09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
    09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
    09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
    09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
    09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
    10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
    10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest