Ben Reilly Happens While You're Busy Making Other Plans

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

$#*! My Dad Worked On Last Week

The second episode of $#*! My Dad Says , "Wi-Fight," is showing signs of improvement, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

They took one step toward correcting the show's biggest problem, which is its reliance on Shatner to carry every scene. Will Sasso (Vince) and Nicole Sullivan (Bonnie) had more script to work with this week, as Ed's blunt way of putting things carried over into their bedroom. Vince convinces Bonnie to let his dad examine her breasts when she develops a rash. Ed makes the mistake of casually describing the culprit, a fungal infection, as looking like "spaghetti and meatballs under a microscope" to his son Vince. This leads to a relatively funny scene where Bonnie makes advances and Vince tries to get around his breast/fungus/meatballs hangup.

It's not the most ingenious concept or even the best execution, but it accomplishes a few things. First off, it establishes how the $#*! Ed says actually has bearing on his family even when he's not in the room. If the show is going to work, Ed's words should be as much of a character as Ed himself. This was absolutely a step in the right direction.

Second, it gives Sasso and Sullivan a chance to establish chemistry, which they pull off pretty well. Maybe a little too well, in fact, if the rest of the show can't keep pace. Compared to Jonathan Sadowski's uninspired performance, it makes one wonder if the show couldn't be about them living under Ed's roof and dispense with Henry altogether.

"Who's Henry?"
And that brings us to some of the continuing problems. The fact I'm talking about the fungus subplot and not the "Wi-Fight" the episode gets its name from shows just how uneven the show can be. Ed's most memorable interaction in the pilot episode wasn't with his children, but rather the unnamed DMV character. The good news is the DMV character is set to return this week.

So what's really going to need to happen to take the show to the next level? Sadowski needs to find his voice. The producers would have been better off if Sasso and Sullivan were the weak link, seeing as how the show's crux is Henry's relationship with Ed. So far, Sadowski hasn't illustrated the comedic timing or emotional depth the show needs.

"Dad, my back hurts. Can you carry the show tonight?"

That said, Sadowski's material isn't exploring his character's potential to its fullest. For instance, the script seems to call for a pretty bland relationship with half-brother Vince. I tend to think that Henry, unemployed and trying to make up for the life he didn't have with his father, would be a tad jealous of Vince, who lived with Ed growing up, and is now successful and married.

So all in all, not a bad week, and reason to keep watching. But the producers need to look into ways to make Henry work.

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