Note: This review was written by Steve Hatton for Channel Canada’s Fall TV Preview section and reprinted here with permission. This review may contain some spoilers.
An advanced viewing of this new CBS fall pilot reveals a sitcom-like plot which still succeeds in being funny as a whole. William Shatner plays a grumpy conservative 72-year-old guy who fought in three wars and has had a strained relationship with his children. Right off the bat, the tone and the premise is set for the type of character Ed is suppose to be.
He is seen grabbing his shotgun and threatening to shoot just because he heard a suspicious noise. But the scene is actually kind of funny because we just saw his son, Henry (Jonathan Sadowski), trying to explain to his roommate Sam (Stephanie Lemelin) why he is afraid to ask his dad for rent money. Now, his father is pointing a shotgun at them and unintentionally proving his son’s point.
$h*! My Dad Says, or Bleep My Dads Says as it may also be called, could already have a strike against it for some viewers just because it is a sitcom. Having said that, it does stand out as a pretty decent argument against the theory that sitcoms are dead.
The Montreal-born Shatner does have many funny one-liners in the pilot, like when he says, “Why do you keep giving me gifts? If I wanted piles of crap around the house I would have bought a bird!”
Or like this other funny moment where Henry tries to explain to his father why he isn’t dating Sam.
“No, no, Sam is just my roommate, she’s not my girlfriend,” Henry says.
“Why not!” Ed retorts.
“She dated my best friend for years. You don’t mow another guy’s lawn.”
“You do if the house is abandoned and the lawn is begging to be mowed!”
Part of the reason why this show relies on one-liners is because its concept and name are based on Justin Halpern’s popular and very funny twitter feed… Yes, a network show based on a twitter feed. It has come to that.
Overall the pilot does have a few memorable moments and the other characters also have a few good one-liners. The actors who play Ed’s other son Vince and daughter in-law Kathleen, Will Sasso and Nicole Sullivan, also have pretty good comedic timing. They manage to talk over each other and contradict each other in way that is very funny.
At the same time, there are a few plot twists that have a cheesy sitcom-like feel to it. Having Ed fake a heart attack just so that he can convince his son, Henry, to come over and see him, seemed like a bit much, especially since Henry doesn’t stop and question it for a second.
Also, for those who’ve always complained that Shatner is bad actor, there’s nothing here that will overwhelmingly cancel that out. Funny one-liners won’t be enough for him shed that reputation and let’s be honest, Shatner playing a stubborn old-guy isn’t really that much of a stretch.
Finally, it’s already pretty obvious that potential romance between Henry and Sam will be an ongoing storyline, which the writers will no doubt try and stretch out over the entire season.
Bottom line, $h*! My Dad Says does have its faults yet somehow manages to get a few chuckles out of the audience by throwing enough one-line gags out until something sticks. I won’t say that this is groundbreaking but overall, this show could be good enough to last the season.
Rating: Limited success (Might survive a full season)
Starts: Thursday, September 23rd 8:30/7:30 Central on CBS
Also: Sunday, September 26th 8/7 Central/9 Mountain and Atlantic on CTV in Canada (Moves to Thursdays later)
UPDATE: My description of the episode didn’t quite entirely match what was aired on TV. Here’s the explanation.