Shatner-Palooza: Shat My Dad Says

Okay, that’s not quite the name of the show (nor is it my joke), but it should be.

$#*! My Dad Says is the only TV show based on a Twitter feed. It sounds like an idea as brilliant as turning insurance company pitch-cavemen into a TV show. But this one actually works. Kinda.

The original Twitter feed was one guy tweeting random saying his near senile father says, and it was pretty funny.

Here’s how CBS describes the TV show:
$#*! MY DAD SAYS (pronounced "Bleep My Dad Says"), based on the popular Twitter feed by Justin Halpern, stars Emmy Award winner William Shatner as Ed Goodson, a forthright and opinionated dad who relishes expressing his unsolicited and often wildly politically incorrect observations to anyone within earshot. Nobody is safe from Ed's rants, including his sons, Henry, a struggling writer-turned-unpaid blogger; and Vince, the meek half of a husband/wife real estate duo with domineering Bonnie. When Henry finds he can no longer afford to pay rent, Ed reveals a soft spot and invites Henry to move in with him. Henry agrees, knowing that the verbal assault will not abate and now there will be no escape. Describing their father/son relationship is tricky, but Ed will easily come up with a few choice words.
The first few episodes of the series were pretty rough. There story lines and script were weak. The show really was really just a delivery mechanism for one-liners from Shatner.

In the ensuing weeks it got better, and the characters got a little more depth. The stories are more interesting now.

There are still problems with the show.

From a technical perspective, there’s something odd about the audio, and it’s likely intentional. When the secondary characters deliver their lines they sound like they do on any other show. Shatner’s lines, however, have greater depth and timbre. He uses a velvet delivery that sounds like he is sitting in front of a professional microphone in a radio station delivering late night dedications. The sound quality is significantly different. His lines carry more weight.

And that’s the way the show is. While the story is getting better and it by necessity focuses on Shatner’s character, the show is fundamentally unbalanced. There’s no way to do the show without focusing on Shatner’s character, but Shatner is in a league apart from the other actors in a way that is distracting. Perhaps a stonger secondary cast would balance the show better. Of course, I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the actors, the script, or the direction.

The interesting thing is that Shatner is both the stongest aspect of the show and the weakest. The show is entirely dependent on Shatner. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role. It’s really perfect casting. At the same time if the show continues to revolve around Shatner, and I don’t think there’s anyway it can’t, the joke is going to get old. Shatner so overwhelms the script that it’s really a casting problem.

In other words, Shatner is both the Alpha and the Omega of $#*! My Dad Says

The parts that are really weak are balanced by the parts that are really awesome. It averages out to good.

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