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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
BLEEP MY DAD SAYS (CBS)
(written by David Kohan, Justin Halpern, Max Mutchnick & Patrick Schumacker; directed by James Burrows; TRT: 20:36)
The network's description: "$#*! MY DAD SAYS, based on the popular Twitter feed by Justin Halpern, stars Emmy Award winner William Shatner as Ed Goodson, a forthright and opinionated dad who relishes expressing his unsolicited and often wildly politically incorrect observations to anyone within earshot. Nobody is immune from Ed's rants, including his sons, Henry, a struggling writer-turned-unpaid blogger; and Vince (Will Sasso), the meek half of his husband/wife real estate duo with domineering Kathleen (Nicole Sullivan). When Henry finds he can no longer afford to pay rent to his pretty roommate -- and secret admirer -- Sam (Stephanie Lemelin), Ed reveals a soft spot and invites Henry to move in with him. Henry agrees, knowing that the verbal assault will not abate and now there will be no escape. Describing their father/son relationship is tricky - but Ed will easily come up with a few choice words. Emmy Award winners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television. Emmy Award winner James Burrows directed."
What did they leave out? The role of Henry Goodson, originally played by Ryan Devlin, is being recast.
The plot in a nutshell: When Henry (Ryan Devlin) learns he won't be able to make rent, his roommate Sam (Stephanie Lemelin) suggests the nuclear option: asking his estranged father Ed (William Shatner) for a loan. "You don't know my dad," he explains. "He fought in three wars and can't decide which one he liked the most!" However, before he can muster up the courage to ask, Henry's hen-pecked half-brother Vince (Will Sasso) and his barren wife Kathleen (Nicole Sullivan, "it's as tangled up in there as a ball of Christmas lights in November") suggest Ed move into one of their condos (a.k.a. their "babies"). After all, he's not getting any younger and there's a chance he may fail his upcoming drivers' test, which would see him sans transportation for the next five years.
Nevertheless, Henry's night of buttering up his pop ("The house is clean enough," Ed remarks. "We didn't accidentally kill a hooker, we had dinner.") backfires as old wounds about Ed's absentee parenting emerge. And so Henry decides to leave San Diego while Ed agrees to sell his house and move into one of Kathleen and Vince's condos. The end. No I'm just kidding: Ed ultimately realizes the error of his ways - with an assist from the tester at the DMV - and reaches out to his son. He offers up a second scenario: Henry can move in with him and they'll make a go at it together.
What works: It's nowhere near the assault on humanity some would have you believe. (Someone with a Twitter account got a show! The horror!) Shatner, to his credit, does the larger-than-life-borderline-insane shtick as well as anyone (Ed, after Henry mocks said qualities: "Why can't someone do a good impression of me?"), as his personality dominates the show. It's big and broad with a brace-for-the-laugh-track brand of humor, if you enjoy such things, one which...
What doesn't: ...unfortunately eclipses a surprisingly sweet undercurrent. Whether it be Henry's fond memories of his late mother and Ed together, Ed's slow realization he really is alone or Sam's unrequited crush on Henry, the evidence these people aren't just one-dimensional joke machines gets lost in the shuffle. Not helping is that the "shitmydadsays"-isms don't exactly emerge intact in the multi-camera format.
They either come off as over-the-top declarations ("If I wanted piles of crap around the house I would have bought a bird!"; "Son if it looks like manure and it smells like manure, it's either Andy Rooney or manure!") or land with a thud ("Caught a raccoon eating my cucumber, got him in prison in the shed"; "Be gentle, this isn't a pair of sweaty boobs on one of your dates."). Throw in eye-rolling moments like Ed calling Vince names like "James Gandolfatty" and it's not exactly the second coming of the multi-camera format. So if Shatner being Shatner in front of a live studio audience sounds like fun, you'll definitely find some laughs. Otherwise...
The bottom line: ...there's always the Twitter feed.