September 25, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Dads”


DADS: Tuesday 8PM on FOX

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on DADS:  Video game company partners Eli and Warner (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) are invaded by their respective fathers, David (Peter Riegert) and Crawford (Martin Mull).  The old guys move in, and in no time are driving their sons crazy.  Also around for the carnage:  Warner’s wife Camilla (Vanessa Lachey), Eli’s maid Edna (Tonita Castro), and the company assistant Veronica (Brenda Song).

Episode 2:  After the fuss that developed over the offensive humor of the pilot, typified by Veronica being paraded around for clients in an anime schoolgirl outfit, Dads mostly stayed away from race-based jokes in its second episode (there was an anti-semitic gag about cheap Jews early on for old times sake).  Instead, the episode, written by Co-Executive Producer Julius Sharpe and directed by Ted Wass, appeared to be aimed at setting the all-time network 8PM record for drug jokes, with the entire episode revolving around the guys and their fathers eating pot-laced brownies.  Doper jokes are among the cheapest and laziest form of comedy writing, since they allow any character to say or do just about anything silly, and this was no Pineapple Express.  Instead, we got standard stuff:  Crawford making up a song about Eskimos that everyone ended up singing, Warner turning paranoid and hiding in a fort of sofa cushions and then in the refrigerator, etc.  It was all outstandingly unfunny.

After two episodes, it seems fair to say that Dads is a very bad show, with few prospects of getting any better.  The main effort put in by series creators Wellesley Weld and Alex Sulkin (and uber-producer Seth MacFarlane) seemed to be in sweetening and raising the volume on the laugh-track, which howled as though it was watching something much funnier than this.  None of the relationships are convincing, neither between the two leads or each of them and their fathers, and the women’s roles are, let us say, less than a step forward for females on TV.  (Veronica nags the two boys for a new video game idea, finally threatening one out of Eli, while Camilla swings between offering dominant sex and being the disapproving wife who frowns on both pot and Eli.)  Even Riegert and Mull are hard-pressed to do more than recite the dialogue as asked, while Green and Ribisi seem to have renounced their comic timing for Lent.

Dads didn’t do badly in its premiere, with a 2.2 rating. But it faced no real competition, while tonight it airs against The Voice, NCIS and the Agents of SHIELD premiere.  That will say a lot more about whether there’s an audience for this thing.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  The Voice.  Agents of SHIELD.  NCIS.  Soon enough, The Originals.

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."