'Dads' Pilot Review: An Unremarkable And Boring Sitcom
Dads uses a traditional structure to tell a story, which is rather rare in the medium right now. The laugh track isn't ancient, but the fade-in and fade-out for every scene is reminiscent of older sitcoms and much older films. The editing of Dads makes it seem a bit amateur, as if the show runners and director couldn't decide how one scene connects to the next. Instead of writing more fluidly, post-production chose the easiest solution. Dads, off the bat, feels choppy. It's a collection of vignettes rather than a whole story--and it's not funny.
Dads is the critics choice for worst new sitcom of the fall 2013 television season. Many of the new shows don't seem that necessary to watch, but no show is necessary to watch. FOX's decision to order the show to series is a no-brainer. Market the Ted connection, the Seth MacFarlane empire connection, and show off Seth Green, as well as an attractive Asian-American actress in a sexy schoolgirl outfit, cross your fingers, and hope people tune in for any or all of what I listed.
The titular Dads are stereotypically drawn and written. The Dads are aloof, out of touch, disconnected from their sons, etc. The one dad ruins a lucrative investment deal for his son's video game project, while the other father (to Seth Green's Eli) is so disconnected with his son that he ruins a surprise birthday party for him without knowing he did because he forgot the day of his son's birth. Eli and his father don't bond by episode's end. An act 3 resolution does put the characters closer together thanks to that third act atonement. Eli feels like he's a failure who can't ascend beyond the trappings of failure his father instilled in him. His father feels like he's a failure because he couldn't pay his mortgage and the bank foreclosed on his house.
Dads follows a long tradition of shows or movies about a character's poor relationship with his father. Hollywood writers work out their daddy issues through storytelling. Anton Chekhov opined that one doesn't write to solve a problem but to state the problem. Dads isn't the type of show that will lead to catharsis for the writers if troubled by a bad relationship with their fathers. The storytelling and humor is lazy. Maybe Dads should've hired Justin Halpern to write for the series just because he could write better than 'stereotypical Dad joke about grunting/resistance to paying the bill at the end of a meal/being out of touch with popular culture, particularly video games.'
FOX wants Dads to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Broad comedy's not my favorite. I like niche, deadpan, meta shows such as Community and Arrested Development. I pretty much worship at the altar of Dan Harmon. Mike Scully's involved in Dads. I enjoyed his work on The Simpsons, but he's not going to break the sitcom to see what's really there. Dads is simply an unremarkable, broad, and boring sitcom. You’re not missing a thing.