Dont turn on your television Tuesday night unless you have a strong stomach and a good lawyer. Youre likely to be called as a witness when Fox is tried for the mass murder of television careers. And visions of the mutilated corpses of innocent victims Seth MacFarlane, Andre Braugher, Andy Samberg, Martin Mull, Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Riegert, Seth Green will haunt you until youre reduced to gibbering shrieks like that guy on Twilight Zone who discovered too late that To Serve Man was a cookbook.
(Oh. Did I not say spoiler alert before I wrote that sentence?)
Its hard to believe a single network could do so much damage in a single hour of programming. But even by the abysmal standards of what passes for comedy at Fox, Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine are dreadful travails. Call them stupidly unfunny, call them ruinously unfunny, call them painfully unfunny, but please, please, as soon as humanly possible, call them canceled.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I suppose, might have been considered a noble, cutting-edge failure if had been produced 30 years ago, when its MASH-in-a-police-station concept would have been fresh and its lampoons of 1970s cop shows topical. But staleness is only one of the shows many problems.
Its badly written the anti-authoritarianism of the misfits and bohemians populating the police station (who include Melissa Fumero of Gossip Girl and Terry Jeffords of Everybody Hates Chris) comes across as childish defiance rather than iconoclasm. And its horribly miscast.
Samberg, so successful as a sketch artist on Saturday Night Live, has a lot to learn about actual acting. He isnt even slightly convincing as a macho cop, and his delusional self-conception as a sex symbol is comic in the worst sense of the word. And the most striking aspect of the somnolent performance by the previously distinguished Braugher is the what-have-I-gotten-myself-into-look stamped onto his otherwise comatose face.
Written by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the producers of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine does elicit the very occasional laugh at, for example, the sergeant who named his twin daughters Cagney and Lacey and was pulled off the street after starting a gunfight with a department-store mannequin.
That makes it practically a Mel Brooks sizzle reel compared to Dads, a crass generation-gap sitcom with the wit if not the intelligence of an elementary-school flatulence contest.
Dads stars Green ( That 70s Show) and Ribisi ( Friends) as childhood pals Eli and Warner, now in their 30s and proprietors of a successful video-game company. But everything gets shaken up when they have to take in their cheap, piggish and very broke fathers (Mull, Two and a Half Men, and Riegert, the immortally swaggering frat boy Boon in Animal House).
Theres apparently something loose in the cultural zeitgeist that has declared open season on the parents of Gen Xers; at least four of the falls new sitcoms are built on noble thirtysomethings being tyrannically jerked around by their senile and malicious moms and dads.
Whatever you think of that as a comic premise, it doesnt work very well in Dads because the sons are practically indistinguishable from their pops. Yeah, Dad lets his goodies dangle out of his robe while making a sandwich. Gross! But his son forces the company secretary to dress like a slutty Japanese anime school girl. Thats good clean fun!
(Some critics, by the way, have labeled that Japanese school-girl bit sexist. Unfair: Theres also a joke about tiny Chinese penises Dads is rigorously gender-neutral in its anti-Asian slanders.)
Dads producer MacFarlane (who had help from henchpersons Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild), has had considerable success with Fox cartoons like Family Guy that dance along just this side of propriety. Dads, along with his disastrous song We Saw Your Boobs at the 2013 Oscar ceremony, suggest he still has a long way to go when working with actual human beings.
Footnote: The opinion that Dads is unadulterated swill is not uniquely mine.The early reviews were so withering that Fox gave up trying to spin them and is now marketing the show through commercials that quote the most viciously insulting comments as if they were badges of honor. Hey, lets see if I can get in on this: Dads! Youll vomit! Your eyes will bleed! Youll wish you were dead!
Youre welcome, Rupert. Always happy to lend a hand in support of the arts.