Battlestar Galactica — At its heart, this show about a ragtag space fleet fleeing a killer robot race is about rough love. And there's no rougher couple than Battlestar Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and his straight-shooting son, Lee. At times, they're so alike they can't stand each other — dads, sound familiar? — as their Oedipal conflicts spill into their fight with the evil Cylons. In other words, a cool dad butts heads with his son in a show where things fly and blow up! Geek man heaven.
Dexter — Is there anything cooler than a Miami policeman dad who teaches his serial killer son how to off the scum of humanity without getting caught? James Remar didn't show much as Dexter Morgan's dad this season, but every moment he's onscreen redefines the father/son dynamic on TV. If he only could have taught Dexter how to take out Florida's lunkhead drivers.
Rescue Me — Denis Leary's pill-popping, self-destructive firefighter Tommy Gavin is wack enough to cheer his teen daughter's lesbian relationship because he knows how much worse teen boys would be. Last season ended poignantly when Gavin's father (played by Charles Durning) passed away while the two were watching a baseball game. Watching Leary's twitchy machismo, you know Tommy G's not going out like that.
Dan Conner, Roseanne
Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), Cosby Show
Ray Barone (Ray Romano), Everybody Loves Raymond
Alan Harper (Jon Cryer), Two and a Half Men
Robbie Stewart (Billy Ray Cyrus), Hannah Montana
Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont), Leave it to Beaver
Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), Family Guy
Television dads these days are way too stupid. • Once upon a time, Ward Cleaver, Mike Brady and James Evans stood as paragons of televised parenting, negotiating their kids' voice-changing, first dates and homework blues with the best one-liners Hollywood could provide. • But somewhere around Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson, it all went wrong. TV dads became schlubs, blessed with good jobs, hot wives, snarky kids and not much else (yes, Ray Barone and Hulk Hogan, I'm talking about you). • So my Father's Day gift is a short list of TV shows starring cool dads. A tie can get ketchup or oil smeared on it, but inspirational TV lasts forever.