Monday, September 16, 2013

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

Save Me

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.


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