$#*! My Dad Says

Modern son, old-fashioned dad meet in this very traditional, odd-couple sitcom where William Shatner shows he still has comic timing.

So this is a TV blog review of a TV show that was inspired by a Twitter feed. That’s doing my head in already.

On title alone $#*! My Dad Says has already been neutered, castrated of any edge by the rules of America’s Federal Communications Commission.

It’s a pity CBS didn’t just create a new title, instead being determined to trade off the branding of Justin Halpern’s Twitter account (Shat My Dad Says would have been a much better substitute than the heiroglyphics we have been left with). As a result even the Nine promos have been left with an announcer calling the show My Dad Says preceded by an audio bleep. Hip? Cool? No, just weird…

The show has one of the best behind the camera, at least for the Pilot, director James Burrows. He was a master behind such shows as Taxi, Cheers and Will and Grace (directing every single episode of the latter). David Kohan & Max Mutchnick, who also created Will and Grace, co-wrote the Pilot with Halpern & Patrick Schmacker.

Like many other sitcoms, $#*! My Dad Says is another take on The Odd Couple, centering around out of work writer / blogger Henry (Jonathan Sadowski) visiting his cranky, retired father Ed (William Shatner). The two share a thorny relationship with old-fashioned Ed unable to display affection and Henry too proud to admit failure.

Filmed as a traditional three camera sitcom with laugh-track (studio audience) the show is a bit like Ed, a dying breed in a genre that has veered sharply towards single-camera comedies such as Modern Family. Yet there is still an audience clearly embracing the stylings of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. There is life in the old dog yet.

It’s almost impossible not to think of Frasier and his irritable father Martin when watching this comedy. Aside from their razor-sharp timing, they also had the benefit of a class distinction. The biggest canyon between Henry and Ed is their view of the world. One is a contemporary, outward-looking young man, the other is rooted in the past, unleashing politically incorrect rants while wearing clothes that suggest he would rather be fishing.

I couldn’t help but think their polar opposites mirrored the notion of a modern Twitter feed being force-fed into a rather old-fashioned comedy form. Round peg, square hole?

There are also two supporting characters in the form of Vince (Will Sasso), Henry’s step-brother and his wife Bonnie (Nicole Sullivan) whose visits to Ed are little more than an obligation.

The gags here are none too subtle, with heightened performances that put the punch in punchline. Sadowski is quite likeable in his role even if most of the humour is so terribly sign-posted. Shatner shows he can still manage to make something of a dodgy gag and easily switches to the obligatory heartfelt moment that a good director like Burrows supplies. Whether it’s enough will depend upon how much you enjoy Shatner (and I’ve always like him a lot) bound by the form of a traditional, multicam sitcom.

Or you could always just cut to the chase and follow the original Twitter feed.

$#*! My Dad Says premieres 8:00pm Monday on Nine.

25 Responses

  1. ok after watching the first 16 eps of this ive got to say its ok but not great , a show worth watching but if a lot of people stick with it past the first few eps will be interesting . i found after 4 eps i was havin to force myself to keep watchin , it just seemed to get tired . theres far worse shows on all the networks than this tho

  2. Going by the first, extremely lame and unfunny episode, I won’t be watching any additional ones, which is a shame, because if he has a good script, unlike other actors, Mr. Shatner can easily alternate between comedy or drama.

  3. @ Andrew B …..iam happy for u! if u dont like it then dont watch it! honestly….. why even write a comment like that???? yes we all know we can express how we feel… but to judge a show cos u watch 4 minutes of u???? really!!!

  4. Well I’m sorry to the elite here who have nothing better to do then run down a show then has done now harm to anyone. But I enjoyed it and will continue to. And if we all thought like Victor, there would be nothing on TV except for the test pattern.

  5. @ Craig: Completely agree. Setting up a show always takes a little while and people should give it a chance. Happens with every series launch, first 15 minutes is a bit awkward but as they show goes on, the true value of it comes out.

    Lets hope its absolute gold, can never have enough comedy on TV!

  6. Although “Shat” my dad says is quite clever, considering the name of the star of the show, it is also used as the past tense of $#*!. Which makes it even more crass than the actual word. To my dismay, nine are now using the word shat in their ads for the show, in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sence and isn’t very clever .

  7. Interesting how some people just want to cancel a show without giving it a go or even checking it out, now I’m not saying this is the best TV out there but seriously if you don’t like it move on an watch something else that night, there are 15 FTA channels to choose from people!

  8. I have been watching “via other sources”, and while it will not be for everyone, it will be a good laugh for anyone who has a crankly old grandfather, father, or uncle.

    The first two or three episodes were great, the next few a little flat, but it has picked up again, with the introduction of new characters and some new back story.

    Give it a chance.

    Interesting that Frasier is brought up in comparison – John Mahoney makes a guest appearance a few episodes in.

  9. Terrible terrible show. Can’t believe you gave it 3 stars. I love Shatner in Boston Legal, but this is woeful and just really try-hard with the jokes and all to familiar laugh track when the jokes aren’t even funny.
    Two And A Half Men fans, you’re going to love it.

  10. I am also a big fan of the Shat (Boston Legal & his self-mocking style) so I’ll be watching with my fingers tighly crossed for luck.
    It doesn’t bode well though – the reviews are uninspiring and it seems to be a one-joke premise.
    Ahhh – I. Hope-he-talks. Like. He, did. In-Star-Trek!

  11. @DavidO Really a filmsy idea, it’s a better idea then what we’ve got now. I reckon most viewers would see their own family members in the character of Ed

    I’ve only seen the first episode and I loved it, anything with Shatner in it beat most of the utter c**p that’s on during Mondays and the rest of the week. And it’s great to see Shatner back on our screens, an actor who’s done a hard slog. There would have been only one actor who would have been good for the role and that was Peter Boyle.

  12. It’s not rating very well in the US after a strong premiere its fallen to only a bit better than Gary Unmarried was doing when CBS axed it, and $MDS has big bang as it’s leadin. I’m surprised how many resources 9 has put into it.

  13. Having seen the first few episodes, I can say that this show goes downhill very quickly.

    What starts out as a promising idea, quickly degenerates into a silly, fairly unfunny sitcom which leave Shatner desperately trying to score laughs from painfully bad scripts.

    His co-stars are wooden and serve little purpose but to set him up for the next boring “wacky” situation. I gave up after about 6 episodes, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.

    I’m sure others will disagree – but in my opinion, this was doomed to failure from the start. A twitter feed is a flimsy base for a sitcom.

  14. David, you had me at James Burrows. I have admired and been inspired by his work for decades. He can choose any project he wishes to direct. I wasn’t sure about checking this one out, but your review sold me. Sitcoms are the panacea for most things that ail me! Even the average ones.

  15. What is so wrong with the word sh*t?

    There are far worse things said on FTA TV (even in the US) and how come sites like this will sensor sh*t but frak is okay even though we all know what it means? I understand there is a place for sensors but really as the English language evolves surely this is one word that is widely used in every day conversations it’s no longer considered a curse word?

    That aside think the show is good, maybe not up there with Modern Family or Big Bang Theory but a good way to waste 30 minutes.

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