Guest Blogger Eric Gray on the ‘Shit My Dad Says’ premiere

25 09 2010

So, advance reviews were negative and the previews CBS ran made the show look “eh,” but still we sat down and tried the premiere of Shit My Dad Says. I’m refusing to type it out as “$#*!” or “[Bleep]” because doing so is stupid, and also because the unnecessary censoring kills any humor that could possibly be lurking in this sad, sad sitcom disaster.

The premise itself is promising. Shit My Dad Says on Twitter is a viral phenomenon, and often laugh-out-loud funny. I’m a big fan, which is why I was hopeful about the jump to prime time. Also, the casting didn’t sound bad; we got William “The Shat” Shatner as the gruff, no-holds-barred, blunt-as-a-sledgehammer dad. We hoped that having The Shat deliver those highly offensive nuggets of wisdom might constitute a hilarious recipe for success, but the show itself is a tragic failure. Here’s why:

1. Utterly neutered for prime time. The Twitter feed is HIGHLY offensive in just about every way imaginable. Those pearls of wisdom often contain copious amounts of swearing, and if they don’t, expect off-color remarks about race, sex, or religion. This is where the comedy lies. Dad is blunt to the point of excess. The social rules that govern the rest of us seem to be lost on him, so he just tells everything like it is. This would be all well and good, but when making the shift from uncensored Twitter to prime time broadcast television, you have to make concessions. The concession in this case was to eliminate the crudeness. The dad’s character on the sitcom is just as blunt, but the impact behind his words has been removed for the sake of broadcast TV. The writing takes absolutely no risks, and fails as a result. The show is rendered unfunny instantly.

2. Complete lack of chemistry. Brilliant sitcoms like The Office, 30 Rock, and Arrested Development work on the strength of the chemistry between the characters. This is apparent, even early in the shows’ runs. Shit My Dad Says has none of it. I mean absolutely none. Honestly, it wouldn’t need it so much if the writers could actually write what they wanted to instead of keeping it whitewashed to avoid fines from the FCC, but since they’re not taking risks there, they have to place overall success on the strength of the characters. No such luck, and worse, the show is working at cross-purposes. No one gives a shit about the supporting cast; the point is really to put Shatner in the driver’s seat and let him go to town. The writing prevents this from happening, so we’re left with a bunch of excruciatingly unfunny also-rans who ham it up along with a neutered Shatner (that sounds exceedingly wrong.)

3. It is all too familiar. There’s nothing new here, nothing interesting, nothing that really pushes the boundaries of comedy. The Twitter feed succeeds because it’s real, and we can all imagine ourselves wanting to say things like the dad does occasionally. I want to see that edge translated to the screen. The most promising little snippet we got was the interaction between Shatner and the DMV clerk, which had flashes of mild funniness. Otherwise, the jokes are stale, and the forced laugh track makes me groan. Oh, the set looked chintzy too, like a 21st-century take on the Golden Girls‘ house.

So, Shit My Dad Says as a sitcom fails pretty damn hard, and its kind of sad. There was brilliance in the idea of bringing that larger-than-life father character alive and building a show around him. William Shatner feels like the perfect casting choice as well. But, the result is paltry and wholly unfunny. My advice: read the Twitter feed, and buy the guy’s book. Half an hour spent there will satisfy your comedy cravings about a bazillion times more than this crapheap of a sitcom. Also, pay attention the the morals in those little new-age proverbs Dad spits out. We could all learn a little from his wisdom, regardless of the form he chooses to deliver it.

Eric Gray is a vehement critic of all things. Especially this show. When not hating on stupid sitcoms, he’s playing video games, thinking about video games, and trying to meander through his last year of grad school. Oh yeah, he’s also the boyfriend of Jess. Yes, the Jess who writes Jess Blogs TV. He thanks her for letting him be a guest blogger and hopes to return soon!

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