Despite the Twitter title indicating otherwise, what came out of Justin Halpern's dad's mouth was pure gold.
After a wildly popular Twitter feed of sh*tmydadsays (1,717,492 followers including Neil Patrick Harris and Kristen Bell) and a New York Times best-seller, we now have the series $#*! My Dad Says at 8:30 p.m. PT/ET Thursdays on CBS.
Capt. Kirk himself, William Shatner, plays dad Ed, a prickly old coot given to outbursts that pay no mind to the feelings of others. Unfortunately, The Shat has spent too much time hawking cheap airfares and can't bring down the booming tone as he tries to oversell this colorful character.
Ed's a retired military doctor now spending his days in San Diego gardening, griping and making life miserable for Girl Scouts and his two sons. Unlike the real Halpern who grew up with dad and mom both still together, TV son Henry (Jonathan Sadowski) spent most of his childhood with his mom after she and Ed divorced. He's now looking for some bonding time -- and a place to crash after losing his job and his girlfriend.
Ed gets minimal human contact from Henry's doormat older brother Vince (Will Sasso) and his overbearing wife Bonnie (Nicole Sullivan). It's all very sitcom 101, and disappointing for people who love the Twitter feed and the book.
And this concept seemed like such a natural for a series. Halpern's struggling days as a writer ended once he decided to put his 79-year-old dad's profanity-filled mottos out on Twitter -- and this is some funny crap.
Most of the Tweets aim squarely at Halpern: "Oh please. You practically invented lazy. People should have to call you and ask for the rights to lazy before they use it." Or "Remember how you used to make fun of me for being bald? No, I'm not gonna to make a joke. I'll let your mirror do that."
Others have a more general flair, like "A parent is only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins the Nobel prize but the other one gets robbed by a hooker, then you have failed." Hooker references play big in Dad Halpern's vocabulary, as well as courser terms for fornicating, feces and genitals.
Almost all of Dad's rants are at least R-rated. The book title was slightly censored into Sh*t My Dad Says, assuming that leaving out the "i" is somehow less offensive to the delicate eyes of folks seeing this on a book rack. Now, we have CBS using random symbols and saying the correct pronunciation is "Bleep My Dad Says." No matter what the title, the main problem lies in translating the potty-mouth proverbs that have made the Twitter feed a phenomenon into something that can play during broadcast's family hour.
There's no indication from the first episode the writers know how to do that.
Not that it's easy getting those ribald adages into any publication with policy standards. Try taking just one hilariously dirty blurb and cleaning it up: "Don't start a story with 'This is SO funny.' Be like saying 'My (male member) is huge' before you even (fornicate). Even if you are right, you sound like a (jerk)."
Right from the start, the writers come out slinging all the best and least profane lines from the Twitter feed. That pipeline's going to run out really soon. Executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick produced and created Will & Grace, and they are better than this. While you can get away with a bunch of funny salty sayings in a Twitter feed, a TV show centers on characters you want to invite into your living space every week.
And the producers didn't make it any easier on themselves by casting an actor who overshadows everyone else in the room. There's no sense of teamwork here, just Shat the star. We'd love to see Ed O'Neill in this role, a generous actor who knows how to deliver a line like a smooth pitch instead of a body slam.
When we finally get to the point where there's a poignant moment with Ed, it doesn't work because it hasn't been earned. The joke lines have been assaulting us with the feriousness of an AK-47, so we aren't ready for a touching moment. Ed's a one-line machine, so we don't buy it when he suddenly goes soft and sentimental.
Go read the feed instead. It's a better use of your half-hour.