In an episode that was about fathers trying to regain their sons’ beloved childhood possessions, Dads ventured to have an emotional story, but it fell quite short of the mark. Superman himself would have had a hard time saving this episode. The writing of the character arcs felt forced and contrived—so much for the hope that Dads might start to evolve past its uncouth, not-so-funny jokes, and into a show with funny yet vulnerable characters. Disappointingly, the three-dimensional actors are still coming across as two-dimensional cartoons.
The story line in the double-entendre titled episode, “Comic Book Issues,” centers around men and their affection for the comic books they used as an escape as kids. David has no respect for Eli’s comic books (he reads them on the toilet), forcing Eli to keep them safe in a storage unit. Similarly, Warner also has a deep affection for—and a bit of trauma related to—his comic books. Long ago, when Warner was young, Crawford sold them all, an act that Warner has never forgotten. Crawford regrets his past actions, and now, to make it up to his son, has bought him a great collection of comic books from Craigslist. To Eli’s dismay, it turns out to be Eli’s collection. Apparently someone broke into Eli’s storage unit and ended up selling them to Crawford. Eli is distraught, but being a good friend, he lets Warner keep them. David realizes that for Eli, those comic books filled an emotional hole that David left when he deserted his son as a kid. Edna and David feel pity for Eli, so they sneak into Warner’s house and steal back the comics. Warner realizes they are stolen, finds them at Eli’s house, where David admits he stole them. Eli is touched that his father went to the effort of stealing back his comics for him.
While the plot of this story sounds like it should be touching, it didn’t feel that way. Viewership has significantly dropped since the first episode, going from 5.76 million viewers for the pilot to 3.19 million viewers for this latest one. The writer of “Comic Book Issues,” David A. Goodman, has a diverse writing portfolio that includes Futurama and Golden Girls, so the man knows how to write scripts that, to quote Family Guy, have “all the things to make us laugh and cry.” Yet those shows had jokes that were derived from well-written characters. Dads has characters at the mercy of jokes, and often bad jokes, at that. Sadly, the closest this series comes to depth of character is when it establishes that Camilla is both an incredibly sexy woman and has incredible farts. Small wonder audiences are turning away.
Obviously the writers value their jokes more than anything, so here are a few of the hits and misses of the week:
Jokes that worked:
—Warner likens reading comic books to sex, and describes all the intricate ways he would read them. Eli corrects him, saying, “You’d read it and, in two minutes, apologize and fall asleep.”
—Crawford, upon describing his discovery of craigslist: “Turns out there’s this guy named Craig who has this list of all sorts of stuff that he sells, from comics to old furniture to cars. And I think he may be some kind of pimp.”
Jokes that failed:
(As usual, David is responsible for most of the misses.)
—When David gets out of the bathroom, Eli asks him what he was doing in there, and David answers, “Short track speed skating.”
—David, on Eli complaining how his dad ruined his childhood: “Ask Elizabeth Smart about her childhood; see what she says.”