Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review - Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine

FOX premiered two new comedies this week: one had received early critical acclaim, the other ... not so much. Let's get to it!

Co-executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, Dads stars (above, L-R) Martin Mull (Roseanne), Giovanni Ribisi (Friends), Seth Green (Family Guy, Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) and Peter Riegert (The Good Wife, The Sopranos). Pretty impressive cast with a lot of comedy experience.  So how is the show?


Green and Ribisi play Eli and Warner, two successful guys and life-long best friends who have to adjust to drastic changes caused when their politically incorrect fathers (Riegert and Mull, respectively) move in with each of them.

Co-stars Vanessa Lachey (True Beauty - she should stick to hosting ... acting is not her forte) as Warner's wife Camilla, Tonita Castro (Go On) as Eli's housekeeper Edna, and Brenda Song (New Girl, Scandal) as co-worker Veronica.

Because of conflicts on Tuesday night when Dads actually premiered, I had to wait for the re-airing on Thursday.  That gave me plenty of time to inadvertently hear a lot of comments about it.  Pretty much a pan across the board.  But I like the cast, so I reserved my own judgment.

It's not good.  Very much hit-and-run comedy.  The pilot rips right in from the jump, taking no care to introduce you to anyone or set up what's what - imagine reading a book starting with chapter three ...). I'm not saying we need a lot of exposition or hand-holding, but something!  Jokes - many incredibly un-PC - were set up, executed and often not even completed.  Example:  Eli and Warner ask Song's character Veronica, to ...please? ... a group of Chinese investors by dressing as a sexy anime schoolgirl (see above), capping it by asking her to do a very improper, stereotypical shy-girl giggle.  Better shows would give her a snappy or witty comeback.  Dads immediately cuts to the next scene. I guess they justified it by having her self-promote herself to VP and declaring she's taking the next week off ... feminism at work?

The show also referenced characters by name and tied jokes to them before even clarifying who anybody was!  Example: Eli's dad called him to talk about Warner's surprise birthday party ... but unless you'd read about the show ahead of time, you probably didn't know which actor was Warner... up to that point he'd been referred to as "honey" or "son".

Then there's just the plain, bad, obvious comedy:  Castro's heavily stereotyped Hispanic Edna; a related joke of Riegert's character referring to the Filipino Lachey as the maid; eye rolls, over-the-top reactions ... bad, just so bad. A shame, too ... they do have a great cast.  Ribisi especially has nothing to do here, playing the uptight, anal guy - in no way a showcase for his terrific character ability.  And Green is pretty much doing his Scott Evil character from the Austin Powers movies, so no new ground there.

BOTTOM LINE Dads is a dud.

Dads airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

The net's other new comedy of Tuesday night is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) and Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age, Homicide: Life on the Street), a pseudo-workplace comedy series - here, a police precinct (hey, remember Barney Miller?) - from writers/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation).


Samberg plays Jake Peralta, a detective whose unmatched arrest record has afforded him the luxury of never having to work too hard or follow the rules too closely. That all changes when the precinct gets its new commanding officer, Captain Ray Holt (Braugher), a man who lives for rules and regulations.

Co-stars Melissa Fumero (One Life to Live, Gossip Girl), Terry Crews (Everbody Hates Chris), Joe Lo Truglio (Burning Love), Stephanie Beatriz (Modern Family) and Chelsea Peretti (Parks and Recreation).

This show got a great deal of positive chatter before it's premiere, landing on many critics' top new shows list.  I was skeptical, since I am not really a fan of similar single-camera sitcoms of this type (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and this has that look without the documentary-style commentary, but I immensely enjoy Braugher in this role.  His delivery, so dry and straight ... his tone stays the same even when he's being sarcastic - a nice touch.  His character is gay, and I appreciate that he is not working in any of the usual go-to traits.  I loved him on TNT's Men of a Certain Age (which was cancelled so before its time) and never saw him in Homicide, but to see him in a comedy is a nice change.

Braugher's portrayal plays very well against Samberg's snarky, man-child antics.  I think without it, Samberg's character could grate on you quickly.  The supporting cast helps lessen its impact, making for a nice balance of personalities.

I liked the show and am willing to watch it more (after ABC's Marvel's Agents of SH.I.E.L.D., of course, its direct competition in the 8 p.m. hour).  This single-camera, no laugh track sitcom is a very hot trend right now (others include Suburgatory, Modern Family, The Middle and new shows Trophy Wife and Super Fun Night) and I think this one has a future.

BOTTOM LINE:  Not completely arresting for me, but likeable enough to continue watching.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX.

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