There are some that say “a bad reputation is better than no reputation at all.” Seth MacFarlane definitely subscribes to this philosophy, as it seems like he’s trying to provide fodder for those who criticize his show as being racist, perhaps with the intent of garnering more attention. The teaser of the latest episode has a couple of racist lines. Then, when Veronica accuses Eli of being racist, he defends himself by saying, “Let’s just leave what’s racist up to the white media.” Unfortunately, the shock value has dwindled, and what’s left is a mediocre show with waning viewership.
“Dad Abuse” is a typical Dads episode, in which the dads annoy the sons, and all four annoy the viewers. Eli, as usual, is at his wit’s end with his dad. This time, he is specifically disgusted by David’s gross household habits. When playing tug of war over a towel, Eli lets go, and David falls to the ground, ending up in the hospital. They return home, and a special services officer comes to investigate Eli’s treatment of his father. Warner and Crawford are also visiting, and the officer finds Eli and Warner unfit sons and takes their dads away to an undisclosed location. The dads obediently and excitedly follow. The coldhearted sons are thrilled … until Camilla and Veronica tell them horror stories about elderly care. They start to worry and search for their missing fathers. But as it turns out, the dads are being taken care of by a lovely husband (Dave Foley guest stars) and wife in a fancy home. David even has a deluxe toilet. When Warner and Eli show up to save them, David and Crawford refuse to leave. That is, until the kind couple reveals their ulterior motive: they want to set up David and Crawford with their very annoying moms to get their moms out of the house. David and Crawford run for the door.
The one saving grace for the show has been the acting. Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green may be known commodities—and Martin Mull’s roots place him in the same comedic hall of fall class with fellow Fernwood 2 Night alum Fred Willard—but Dads has also revealed a few hidden gems, like Tonita Castro who plays Edna. Every episode shows more and more of Edna’s character, which is a good thing. Her character highlights depth and vulnerability in Eli’s character (in that he basically pays her to be his mother and loves her like one). Castro’s performance skills and charisma are also noteworthy. Inevitably for this show, she is the butt of a few racist jokes. (When the special services officer shows up, she freaks out and yells “immigracion!” before hurling herself across the room with some slapstick and stunt moves that are quite impressive.) But she dishes the insults right back at David, and does so with incredible delivery. Castro has worn a few hats in her life, one of them being a real housekeeper. Before starting acting in 2005, she also worked for two decades in radio. In an interview on Fox News, she discusses not only how she prepares for her characters but her confidence in the show’s writers.
We may never find out whether that confidence is misplaced or not, as the show has been placed on hiatus by Fox. “Hiatus” is often as not just a prelude to cancellation, though MacFarlane’s muscle with the network might keep it alive a bit longer.
If this episode was the final one, the best one could say is it wasn’t horribly offensive (in comparison to past ones), with the usual batch of hits and misses.
Jokes that worked:
—Eli, on humans eating dog food: “Hey, some of that dog food on TV looks pretty good. Like that one with the real chunks of sirloin. I mean, I know it costs more than regular dog food, but I’m worth it.”
—David’s foster son: “Don’t flush it while you’re still on it. It’ll suck your heart out.”
David responds: “It already has.”
Jokes that failed:
—Crawford, on taking painkillers: “I find that if you do everything the prescription label says not to it works better.”
—David, after being asked by Eli why all the conditioner and eggs have been used up, “I lost a lot of protein in the shower.”