It is astounding that today, in 2013, sitcoms are still reliant on a laugh track to tell viewers when to guffaw along. In a legitimately funny show, it’s a mere nuisance. In an unfunny show like “Dads,” it’s painful.
Created by two “Family Guy” alumni, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, the live-action show follows a pair of video game developers, Eli and Warner (played by Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, respectively). Their lives, both personal and professional, are in upheaval thanks to their different awful fathers. They even have competitions to see whose dad is the worst.
Warner’s pop, Crawford (Martin Mull), lives with his son’s family, and he’s the kind of dad who thinks he’s knows everything and almost blows a lucrative deal at his son’s business. Eli’s dad, David (Peter Riegert), is first introduced to us when he is spoiling his son’s surprise party.
They’re both unlikeable characters who are terrible in different ways.
Collectively, Ribisi, Greene, Mull and Riegert have done more than enough in their careers to prove that they have an understanding of comedy and how to deliver a funny line.
Given that, it’s astounding how many jokes just fall flat here, delivered as comically as someone delivering a pizza.
“Dads” premieres Tuesday night at 8 on Fox/5.