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.