Like 1,724,133 other people, we here at the Everyview Network became avid followers of Shit My Dad Says, a Twitter account started by a writer named Justin Halpern, documenting hilarious observations made by his cranky and politically incorrect father Sam. The ramblings on an angry, yet noticeably intelligent old man made for a genuinely gut-busting read.
Well, the phenomenon became so widespread, it lead to a book, and now a television show on CBS with William Shatner as the cantankerous father, renamed Ed Goodson. If you’re anything like me, you’d be worried that such an explosively funny entity would have its balls ripped right off when placed on a major network and the end result would be a lame waste of time.
You’d be right.
After being laid off, a magazine writer named Henry (Jonathan Sadowski) seeks comfort, as well as a financial loan from his curmudgeon father (Shatner), with whom he’s had a tumultuous relationship with. After much arguing, the two realize that maybe it’s time they tried something new… getting along (lameness very much intended).
My first problem with the show is its choice of distributor. Why take something that is just a boat load of profane fun and stick it on a network which is forced to advertise it as “Bleep” My Dad Says? That’s not to say network TV can’t produce smart, edgy comedy, but we’ve already gotten used to a certain brand of comedy here, which obviously isn’t going to fly on CBS.
But that isn’t the biggest problem with $#*! My Dad Says by a long shot. The biggest problem is that pilot episode just flat-out sucked.
For starters, I didn’t like Sandowski’s portrayal of Henry at all. He seemed obnoxiously petulant to the point I hoped to see his father boot him out on his ass.
Also, despite its profane title, the show didn’t seem to make any attempt to break from tired sitcom style humor. Every joke was telegraphed from a mile away with the audience laugh track right on cue to yuck up the hi jinks. Even when trace elements of the real life inspiration tried to peek through (a story about him telling his eight-year-old son a poem he wrote was “an affront to the English language”) got suffocated by the lame setup.
Lastly, and most importantly, I just didn’t buy Shatner as the dad. Not only did he fall way short of the online musings of Sam Halpern, but he didn’t even approach the sitcom level of Peter Boyle’s cranky Frank Barone.
While I would hardly consider Everybody Loves Raymond to be a landmark comedy, Boyle knew how to take an elderly grouch and infuse him with at least a shred of reality, so as to create the illusion we were watching real people. There wasn’t a second of this show that didn’t feel totally contrived, and worse, there wasn’t one joke I found to be genuinely funny.
It would be easy to put the blame on Justin Halpern, for after all, he wasn’t responsible for the hilarious content of Shit My Dad Says, as he just recorded it. I don’t want to do that though as I suspect he’s probably a pretty talented guy (I have yet to read the aforementioned Shit My Dad Says book but I’ve heard mostly good things).
I prefer to think of him as an Andy Millman type, working forever to create something he can be proud of, only to have it monopolized when too many people (four people were given “created by” credits) get involved and rob it of its integrity.
Side note: For anyone who doesn’t get the Andy Millman reference, it’s from a British comedy called Extras. If you haven’t watched it, you should. It’s brilliant.
Aside from the fact that it was just hilarious, what made the Twitter account so great was that it was the real, unfiltered thoughts of a very funny and intelligent person. By contrast, this televised version of Shit (interpret that however you see fit) tossed any idea of reality out the window when it had Shatner running to get a shotgun to chase away girl scouts.
While most of my favorite comedy shows (Simpsons, Seinfeld, Beavis and Butthead, etc.) weren’t great right out of the gate, they at least showed something that hinted better things were to come. The best thing I gauged from the Pilot of $#*! My Dad Says is that it would likely be cancelled quickly, so those of us who followed the hilarious tweets so passionately could quickly forget this abomination ever hit the airwaves.
Final Score: 2.5/10