Seth Green is very funny, and he does a lot towards an attempt at success with Dads, the story of two best friends whose dads come back to live with them. The rest of the show, though, has a lot to make up for. There is a laugh track, first of all, which is more CBS’s thing than Fox. Same goes for its multi-camera set up, especially since this show will be followed by Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which does not have a laugh track and seems to fit in better with Fox’s other comedy programming. Still, hit the jump for the good, bad and ugly of Dads.
I really have got to address the laugh track issue first and foremost. When will it die? Particularly on new shows that should — like Dads — be attracting a younger audience who will find it grating. Laugh tracks now for comedies are like a heraldic announcement that viewers will need to be prompted to find the laughter, because the show just isn’t that funny.
Dads focuses on stoner Eli (Seth Green) and uptight Warner (Giovanni Ribisi), best friends who run a video game company (they’re so successful Eli apparently is able to afford a daily housekeeper for his one-bedroom apartment). In the pilot episode, their two deadbeat dads (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert), for several reasons, move back in with each of their sons, causing their sons’ lives to turn upside down.
Dads is pretty much just as terrible as all of the Twitter snark would lead you to believe, ever since it was screened at the 2013 TCAs. There are now two episodes available for critics to view, and while the second one isn’t nearly as racist as the first (trading particularly cruelly in Asian stereotypes), it’s just pretty boring (Eli and Warner try to subdue their dads by drugging them with pot brownies. Middle-aged stoners saying “crazy” things and making up songs ensues).
However, Seth Green does a lot to try and save the show. Like Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he’s the real talent and real humor, and some of his jokes are legitimately great. But also like Samberg, one man succeeding where everything else fails is not going to be enough (the cast has promise, but they are trapped by bad writing).
Yet, Dads comes from Family Guy and Ted writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, with Seth MacFarlane serving as an executive producer. Sadly though, Dad‘s doesn’t match Family Guy in almost any way, and the “irreverence” that Fox executives have said they want to keep on the show is not the same thing as it just being insulting, which it is. The multi-camera setup and laugh track formula also keeps the show from being able to do the kind of comedy that an animated show can get away with. Here, it just seems backwards.
There are examples of bad comedy pilots (or several bad episodes) that go on to merely be low points for ultimately great series, but it’s very rare. With as many decent comedies as Fox already has, they don’t need Dads. Neither do we.
Dads premieres Tuesday, September 17th at 8 p.m. on Fox