News Column

New shows on FOX go for laughs

September 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 17--LOS ANGELES -- FOX launches two new comedies tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 17).

One show is a twisted look at family life from the same people who brought you the movie "Ted" and the animated series "Family Guy." The other features a former "Saturday Night Live" performer.

In "Dads," Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi play hip video-game designers who have their lives upended when their fathers (Martin Mull, Peter Riegert) move in. On "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Andy Samberg tries to prove he is ready for prime-time in the cop comedy.

Both shows debut tonight on KMPH (Channel 26.1). Here's a closer look at each:

'Dads'

With the pedigree behind "Dads," it's no surprise the series plans to push some comedy boundaries.

In fact, the opening episode created a stir among TV critics over a scene in which Brenda Song's character is asked to dress in a Sailor Moon outfit and act as a sexual tease.

"You know, this happened with 'The Simpsons,' too," says Mike Scully, executive producer. "There were times where people thought the show crossed a line with Homer strangling Bart, which is now just considered a beloved act of child abuse, but at first it was a little shocking.

"We don't want the show to be the racial insult comedy show. That's not the idea. It's a comedy about fathers and sons. They're telling stories about their dads and the inappropriate things they do, but also how that kind of slips out through you."

Green defends the shows aggressive -- at times overly aggressive -- approach to comedy, pointing to how television has been a provocative medium with series like "All In the Family" and "The Jeffersons" pushing boundaries.

"I think that we've become a really careful culture and as soon as people started suing each other over hurt feelings, people started getting more and more afraid to speak their mind or even point at something," Green says.

"And I've gotten into the weirdest conversations with people about what they think is racist, and it always speaks to their own personal, cultural sensitivity and them not wanting to be considered personally offensive."

'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

The humor on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" leans a little more toward the traditional with the jokes coming out of the misadventures of a group of detectives.

Samberg plays a first-rate cop who just happens to have a little problem with authority figures, especially his new boss played by Andre Braugher.

Samberg wasn't looking to do a TV series, but he was a fan of the producers -- the same team behind "Parks and Recreation." The only thing Samberg asked was that the character actually be good at his job.

"I think it's important for the show to work -- because, otherwise, why do you care to track stories and stuff like that -- if he's not actually good at it," Samberg says. "Then when he's being kind of a jackass, you can forgive him more and be on board with him more.

"When we first talked about it, it was more like he was going to be kind of like (Jimmy) McNulty from 'The Wire,' but instead of drinking problems and philandering, he was doing gags in the office."

For Braugher, who played the competent Frank Pembleton on "Homicide: Life on the Street" two decades ago, his career has been dominated by serious roles. That meant he had to make some adjustments.

"There's a different spirit with a comedy. So there's a little bit of a learning curve from the pilot to the first couple of episodes.

"But I'm watching these guys like hawks," Braugher says. "So I feel like I'm getting on board with the right spirit of the comedy and learning a lot and exploring a new way that works."

This week on TV

Tonight

"Dads," 8 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1)

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," 8:30 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1)

Returning shows: "New Girl," 9 p.m. KMPH; "The Voice," 9 p.m. KSEE (Channel 24.1); "The Mindy Project," 9:30 p.m. KMPH

Wednesday

Returning shows: "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," 8 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1)

Friday

Returning shows: "Last Man Standing," 8 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1); "Shark Tank," 9 p.m. KFSN

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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