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Fox’s ‘Dads’ sitcom not so bad, just bad enough

  • This publicity photo released by Rockstar Games shows a screen shot from the video game, "Grand Theft Auto V." (AP Photo/Rockstar Games)

    This publicity photo released by Rockstar Games shows a screen shot from the video game, "Grand Theft Auto V." (AP Photo/Rockstar Games)

  • FILE - This publicity image released by Fox shows Seth Green, left, and Peter Riegert in a scene from "Dads." This new Fox sitcom has drawn more than its share of attention leading up to its launch Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, at 8 p.m. EDT. Granted, one of its co-creators, Seth MacFarlane, is a high-profile show-biz force, particularly as he expands his TV empire from such animated hits as "Family Guy" and "American Dad!" to this, his first live-action comedy. (AP Photo/Fox, Jennifer Clasen)

    FILE - This publicity image released by Fox shows Seth Green, left, and Peter Riegert in a scene from "Dads." This new Fox sitcom has drawn more than its share of attention leading up to its launch Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, at 8 p.m. EDT. Granted, one of its co-creators, Seth MacFarlane, is a high-profile show-biz force, particularly as he expands his TV empire from such animated hits as "Family Guy" and "American Dad!" to this, his first live-action comedy. (AP Photo/Fox, Jennifer Clasen)

  • This publicity photo released by Rockstar Games shows a screen shot from the video game, "Grand Theft Auto V." (AP Photo/Rockstar Games)
  • FILE - This publicity image released by Fox shows Seth Green, left, and Peter Riegert in a scene from "Dads." This new Fox sitcom has drawn more than its share of attention leading up to its launch Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, at 8 p.m. EDT. Granted, one of its co-creators, Seth MacFarlane, is a high-profile show-biz force, particularly as he expands his TV empire from such animated hits as "Family Guy" and "American Dad!" to this, his first live-action comedy. (AP Photo/Fox, Jennifer Clasen)

What’s all the fuss about Dads?

This new Fox sitcom has drawn more than its share of attention leading up to its launch tonight at 8.

Granted, one of its co-creators, Seth MacFarlane, is a high-profile show-biz force, particularly as he expands his TV empire from such animated hits as Family Guy and American Dad! to this, his first live-action comedy.

As a master of rawness, tastelessness and low blows, MacFarlane is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of humorist whose fans (and I count myself among them) see his offensiveness, when he’s on his game, as overwhelmingly redeemed by laser-sharp insight and a grand fearlessness. And hilarity.

So Dads is being greeted with keen interest, and speculation: Would it soar (or plunge) to MacFarlane’s time-honored standards?

The truth is, viewers who celebrate MacFarlane as well as those who revile him should be equally dismayed by Dads. It’s just a mediocre multi-camera sitcom, complete with formula humor and unearned laugh track.

The premise is simple and hackneyed. Two best friends (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) who run a video-game-designing business are saddled with their respective troublesome fathers (Peter Riegert and Martin Mull), each of whom is crashing with his son.

This setup, of course, invites plenty of cheap shots at the older generation, lampooned as out of shape, out of touch and burdened with bad breath.

The MacFarlane brand of edginess goes no further than when Green’s character recalls getting his head shaved as a child before his dad, Reigert, took him to Disneyland.

“We got a free lunch with Goofy, didn’t we?” Reigert reasons.

“It’s not funny, Dad,” Green says in one of the episode’s few spot-on lines.

Judging from the pilot and a follow-up lame episode, they’re fooling themselves. Dads is a display of parental abuse.

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