'Modern Dads' review: Bland, contrived 'reality' show

Joopsey, Sean and Arwen star in "Modern Dads"

Joopsey, Sean and Arwen star in "Modern Dads" premiering Aug. 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on A&E. (Credit: A&E, 2013)

UNSCRIPTED SERIES "Modern Dads"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday night at 10:30 on A&E

WHETHER TO WATCH Macho! Watch-o? Lotsa tots, tho.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Men and babies! Are you laughing yet? Or maybe "chortling." That's more manly, yes?

'Cause these "Modern Dads" are manly men -- a quartet of stay-at-home Austin pals who just happen to represent a demographic span. It's not too wide (no minorities/disabilities), yet not too narrow (one's single, one's a live-together "stepdad"; two are married: a first-time father and a grizzled dad of four).

For these cool dudes, fathering isn't some touchy-feely huggy-snuggy thing, no sir. Judging by tonight's premiere half-hour, it's vroom-vroom power tools. (Even if it's actually your lady who knows how to use 'em.) It's going to the supermarket carrying your pal's cute kiddo as a prop to pick up chicks. (Like TV cameras in tow wouldn't do it.) It's commenting of your 1-year-old twins, "They have the mental capacity of hamsters." And, of course, it's "I just like to sit on the toilet."

These are "Modern Dads"?

MY SAY Um, no. These are characters in a "reality" contraption that is no more accomplished than the very specific construction-paper body part "ironically" cut out by the kid idling in the waiting room while Daddy sees the urologist.

Because these guys are so bland and their together time so contrived, it's more fun to watch the gears turn on the tired docusoap machine.

Count the prefab parts: handy joint activities (princess birthday party), forced banter, clever-ized commentary ("The kids have basically done to my sex life what Godzilla did to Tokyo"), isn't-this-fun underscore.

Heaven forbid "Modern Dads" defies a stereotype or anything. There's lots of male bragadoccio and female eye-rolling and plenty of "Oh no, they di'int" moments.

BOTTOM LINE Macho! Watch-o? Not-so.

GRADE C-

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