Sept. 17----DADS. 8 p.m. today, Fox 29.
--BROOKLYN NINE-NINE. 8:30 p.m. today, Fox 29.
ONE STEP forward, one step back: It used to be a popular dance move at Fox, which "balanced" smart shows with dreck to show that the "Married . . . With Children" network hadn't lost its edge.
It's tempting to see a balancing act in the juxtaposition of "Dads" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," which premiere tonight back-to-back.
"Dads," whose producers include Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") and Mike Scully ("The Simpsons," "Everybody Loves Raymond") has been called sexist, racist and ageist -- the trifecta!- and is many critics' pick (though not mine) for worst new show.
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is a critics' darling. A funny show about cops, its cast is diverse and it's from the producers of "Parks and Recreation," which is like saying they went to Harvard (which, in the case of co-creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor, they actually did).
Yet I don't think "Dads" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" were so much meant to be different from each other as to be a bit more guy-friendly than Fox's "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," which return today. (I haven't seen the "New Girl" premiere, but "Mindy" comes back strong.)
Scully, who's also written for "Parks and Rec," doesn't do purposeful dreck. But like MacFarlane, he's been more successful writing for animated characters, who get away with more. I'm not sure anything in the first two episodes of "Dads" is as potentially offensive as a half-dozen things in a single episode of "Family Guy," but then I never thought I was supposed to identify with characters in either show: They truly are cartoonish.
"Dads" just isn't very funny. A cast this good -- Martin Mull and Peter Riegert are loser fathers to business partners played by Giovanni Ribisi and Philly's Seth Green -- deserves more than the raucous studio laughter that warmed-over bigotry generates. And, honestly, there are glimpses at times of a better show.
The Sept. 24 episode, in which everyone gets high and no one is ordered to dress up like a "sexy Asian schoolgirl," is also marginally better than the pilot. Though since Brenda Song's character has a wardrobe makeover between episodes that renders the schoolgirl outrage moot, I'm not sure I'd call it progress. More like "balance."
At least any laughs you hear during "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" will come from your side of the screen, and they shouldn't all be for Andy Samberg.
The "Saturday Night Live" alum plays a talented but immature detective whose strict new captain (Andre Braugher) thinks that it's time he grew up. Or at least put on a tie. They're good together (even if I don't completely buy Samberg yet in the role), but the show's strength is its note-perfect ensemble.
They're all funny, but I especially love the use of Terry Crews ("Everybody Hates Chris") as a gun-shy sergeant and Chelsea Peretti as a civilian administrator who between them brief the captain (and us) on the rest of the squad.
'Dead' or dead end?
Days after confirming a deal for "Better Call Saul," a "Breaking Bad" prequel that would focus on Bob Odenkirk's lowlife lawyer character, AMC yesterday announced that it was developing a "companion series" to its cable hit "The Walking Dead."
"Building on the success of the most popular show on television for adults 18-49 is literally a no-brainer," said Charlie Collier, AMC's president and general manager of the so-far-untitled series from Robert Kirkman, on whose comic-book series "The Walking Dead" is based.
Zombie jokes aside, that's my concern: It's a no-brainer.
AMC transformed itself from old-movie channel to Emmy magnet by taking chances on crazy ideas: a show about advertising in the 1960s and another about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who decides to cook meth. And then it struck gold with a show about zombies.
None of these things is like the others except in being like nothing else on television at the time. Will "Walking Dead" fans watch even more zombies? Sure they will. Just as there are "Breaking Bad" fans who'll be happy to spend time with Odenkirk in a world where Walter White (Bryan Cranston) isn't yet in need of advice. Or at least happier than spending it in the Detroit of "Low Winter Sun."
So these may be safe decisions. I'm just not sure why AMC's suddenly putting safety first.
On Twitter: @elgray
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