Fox's Dads tops my list of the Four Worst New Fall TV Shows
If someone told you that something you created was derivative, hokey, borderline racist and blithely sexist, how would you respond?
The Fox network and the minds behind their new sitcom Dads reacted to critics’ almost universal thrashing of the new comedy in a novel new way – by pretending that the caustic reviews are a badge of honor.
The network aired a promo featuring a bunch of people who looked like fans from a taping of the show insisting “don’t listen to the critics,” while pronouncing Dads a “must see show.”
For me, that’s the reason why Dads earns my designation as the Worst New Show of the Fall Season. Not just because it strands great performers like Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull and Peter Riegert in the tired, formulaic premise of young adult guys embarrassed by their self-centered, clueless dads (a concept so original, at least five other new TV shows are based around a similar premise).
It’s because, when told that a pilot which features maid jokes about the only two Latinas in the cast (including, of course, the maid for one of the characters) and a bit where they make an Asian employee dress in a revealing schoolgirl’s outfit after she cracks a joke about her dad beating her with a math book, their response is:
You don’t get it.
That tells this critic that they don’t plan on changing much or learning from feedback. Which means that the awful pilot they made – something created when they presumably had months to plan and write and shoot the thing – is probably as good as this hunk of junk will ever get.
That also may be the one thing all the other shows on my worst list have in common; a lack of creativity which echoes all the common complaints about network television.
My full fall TV preview will be published in the newspaper Sunday; I’ll post more material from the section, which reviews every new fall network TV show and dissects all the trends, next week.
Look below for my list of Fall TV’s Four Worst New Shows
Fox, 8 p.m., debuts Tuesday
Starring: Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Reigert.
It’s a highly dubious distinction: Most racist new network TV show. But this otherwise clunky comedy about two video game company owners and their overbearing fathers wins that distinction for forcing their only Asian castmember to dress in a skimpy schoolgirl outfit to appease a new Chinese client. She also notes her non-American dad “beat her with a math book” until she was 16. Small wonder Seth “I saw your boobs” MacFarlane is in the producer credits.
Sean Saves the World
NBC, 9 p.m., debuts Thursday Oct. 3
Starring: Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, Megan Hilty.
What would happen if Will from Will & Grace got married, then divorced, then tried to raise the kid he had while pretending to be straight? Yeah, I never wondered that, either. But former Will & Grace co-star Hayes has concocted that very hash for his uninspiring return to sitcomland, making Lavin serve as his harpy of a mother and Hilty as his new school Grace. The only thing missing is the funny.
CBS, 8:30 p.m., debuts Thursday Sept. 26
Starring: Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, J.B. Smoove.
In a fall season filled with shows about impossibly, unrealistically, inexplicably dysfunctional parents, this may be the worst one. It’s not just because it forces the amazing Martindale to tell a series of fart jokes, but because it dares to strand such an amazing cast in a petty story about overbearing parents who split up after learning of their son’s divorce. If there were the showbiz equivalent of an anti-Emmy, I would award it here tomorrow.
Fox, 9:30 p.m., debuts in January
Starring: Keith David, Geoff Stults.
There’s a certain charm to this quirky comedy about an ace soldier forced to lead a dysfunctional Rear Deployment Unit in Florida. But Heartbreak Ridge and F Troop said about everything there is to say in this milieu years ago. Fox seems to agree: Between the time we finalized copy for the printed version of the fall TV preview and today, the network announced it was shifting the show’s debut to 2014. Just as well: a comedy about soldier who can’t shoot straight on Friday nights feels like a tough sell.