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June 03, 2010

First look: "$#*! My Dad Says' plus full trailer

99105_D0383b[1] The quasi-profane title shouldn't give you the idea that "$#*! My Dad Says" is some envelope pushing, genre-redefining comedy.

This is a sitcom. Very much a traditional sitcom. When the camera pans across the show's living room set, it feels slow and heavy, as if furniture is being moved. "$#*! My Dad Says" exists in a world where "Modern Family" never happened.

You can get away with judging a drama by its pilot, but comedies are much tougher. "Big Bang Theory" and "The Office" had weak pilots; comedies take time to find their voice. This is my way of backing into saying I didn't much care for "$#*!," but I suspect that my opinion may have more to do with my disinterest in traditional multi-camera sitcoms in general than this one in particular (and that even if viewers agree with my take, the pilot might not matter). I watch sitcom pilots like a primetime anthropologist -- I don't find this funny, but this is sort of like what viewers who watch "Two and a Half Men" like, right?

William Shatner doesn't do much for me in the title role. Shatner is emotive. He is -- Shatner! He cares, dammit. He feels, if anything, too much! But the Dad here is supposed to be callous, thick, insensitive, a 72-year-old war veteran who watches TV and hates Andy Rooney. 

The pilot veers slightly from the traditional sitcom tone in its latter half, toward poignancy, as Dad realizes he's alienated his younger son. Here Shatner connects with the viewer and you feel for him, a little. In other words, Shatner sells the drama better than the comedy, which is what you would expect from him -- and potentially problematic for a show with a laugh track.

Here's the trailer (more fall TV trailers here), see what you think:

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