Stars of the new Fox sitcom, "Dads" are from left,...

Stars of the new Fox sitcom, "Dads" are from left, Martin Mull, Giovanni Ribisi, Seth Green and Peter Riegert. Credit: Fox


WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday night at 8 on Fox/5

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The lives of Eli (Seth Green) and Warner (Giovanni Ribisi), who run a gaming company, get complicated when their dads move in because Warner's dad, Crawford (Martin Mull), and Eli's, David (Peter Riegert), are nuts. From Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, of "Ted."

MY SAY As boundary-free as pop culture is -- or put another way, as awful as it can be -- one boundary remains, at least on mainstream TV: No racial parodies. While they do pop up sporadically, the industry knows they're offensive but also (worse) bad for business.

Enter MacFarlane, who couldn't care less about boundaries. This is the guy who sang "We Saw Your Boobs" at the Oscars, and has gleefully offended on (nearly) 300 episodes of "American Dad" and "Family Guy." It's what he does.

Nevertheless, some critics at the recent TV critics' Press Tour howled over the handful of racial jokes and bald-faced lampoons in the "Dads" pilot (including Asian and Latino ones). They weren't wrong, but you also have to wonder if they've ever seen "Ted," or "Robot Chicken," Green's ribald Adult Swim series that sometimes out-MacFarlanes MacFarlane.

Fox knew exactly what it was getting with "Dads" and for the most part got it -- something that'll appeal to young guys who don't watch much of anything else on TV, except Adult Swim. But it's not as terrible as it sounds. There are some amusing lines -- MacFarlane and Green can be boorish, but they're not untalented -- while Mull and Riegert are old pros who know how to hit their marks. Someone out there will like "Dads" -- just don't be too surprised if you're not among them.

BOTTOM LINE Yes, offensive, but the second episode loses that element, which suggests Fox got the message. Not surprisingly, it's the better of the two.


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