August 25, 2011



Peter Tolan, who with Denis Leary created Rescue Me, knows something about the comedy that emerges when when men try to assert their masculinity in the most idiotic ways.  So you can understand why FOX developed COUNCIL OF DADS, which was meant to bring that kind of tone to a family sitcom.  Alas, what ended up being produced was like some kind of strange spawn of Rescue Me, a Disney movie and one of those pictures like The Protector where an assassin has to bumblingly take care of children.

The premise of Council was at least a new spin on the family genre.  Catherine (Diane Farr) would have been raising her two kids as a single mom after the death of her husband Michael, but Michael made a back-up plan:  he designated 4 of his friends as a collective of paternity, each supposedly bringing a particular strength to the council.  Marty (Kyle Bornheimer), Michael’s oldest friend, is the “fun” dad; trainer Randy (Rick Gomez) the jock; therapist Jerry (Patrick Breen) the one the kids can talk to about their feelings; and business partner Bill (Richard T. Jones) can help with schoolwork.  (They’re like a less tuneful seven dwarves.)  Meanwhile, Michael’s father Buck (Ken Howard) hovers jealously over the group and intrudes at will. 

Naturally, all of the “dads” are morons who constantly compete over who will be the dominant one of the group, but whether it was the inability to make sex jokes and use dirty words that hindered Tolan in thix context, or if he was just off his game, none of it is funny.  The pilot has Randy and Marty fighting about who can make the best model car for Michael’s son to use in a contest, with Buck ridiculing them both, and the big joke is a draw between the guys taking off their shirts to reveal their unathletic bodies and wrestle each other, and Marty dripping blood everywhere from his cut finger.  The actors don’t distinguish themselves, although it’s always nice to see Farr (who recurred as a Rescue Me firefighter for a season).  The Russo brothers, who are behind the camera for some of the best Community episodes, keep the action going, but can’t contribute much else.

Peter Tolan is a real talent, and no doubt after Rescue Me goes to its rest in another couple of episodes, he’ll go on to other great work.  Council of Dads suggests that the all-ages-admitted sitcom isn’t the genre where he’ll do it.

The Sked’s Verdict:  The Network Was Right
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About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."