My Dad is Better Than Your Dad: Series Review
My Dad is Better Than Your Dad: Series Review
My Dad is Better Than Your Dad shouldn't be on prime time network television.  If the writers' strike had not occurred, it wouldn't be.  I don't say this to be cruel – My Dad is Better Than Your Dad is harmless, earnest, and is something that families with small children can enjoy together (which is a rarity these days).  However, My Dad is Better Than Your Dad plays like a poor man's Double Dare.  It's a mess, though thankfully it's a slight one.  From the very first moment of the very first episode, its innocence doesn't allow for harsh criticisms – My Dad is Better Than Your Dad is what it is (silly, boring, unnecessary) and its presence on network television is more an indictment of NBC's current state than anything else.

My Dad is Better Than Your Dad is a simple show - four pairs of fathers and their kids (boy or girl) compete in a series of challenges (much like Double Dare or a tame American Gladiators).  Teams are eliminated one by one, until only one is remaining.  Once one team is left, the father is asked a series of questions about their child (like in The Dating Game) - for each correct answer, they win $10,000.  If they get all five right, they win $50,000.  Simple.

So, this is what happened.  I watched My Dad is Better Than Your Dad tonight, took some notes and afterwards, rather inexplicably, decided to watch Casablanca.  Just so you know I'm not trying to be high-brow or cool or anything, I must admit that it's the first time I'd ever watched Casablanca.  I have a feeling that, subconsciously, I needed to cleanse my mental palette after an hour of banal television.  You can't find two entities further apart than My Dad is Better Than Your Dad and Casablanca.  It's difficult to comprehend that, over seventy years after Casablanca was released, American pop culture would be churning out game shows where fathers frantically fire newspapers out of a large cannon. 

There are a number of relatively mind-blowing aspects of My Dad is Better Than Your Dad.  Is this what NBC has come to?  There's host Dan Cortese, whose career peaked over a decade ago when he was the long-haired cool guy who hosted MTV Sports (he also played George's man-crush on an episode of Seinfeld).  There's the son from the first episode's “winning” team, who acted as if he'd been snorting Pixie Sticks in his dressing room before the taping.  There was the small and amateurish set that looked like it'd been constructed the day before.  There were the ridiculous challenges – fathers flinging their children towards an over-sized dart board, fathers firing newspapers out of a cannon, and fathers destroying a work desk with a huge steel mallet. 

Out of all the terrible reality-based shows on TV today, My Dad is Better Than Your Dad might be the most reprehensible.  The celebreality fare on MTV and VH-1 (Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Tila Tequila, I Love New York) at least all have the tongue-in-cheek, unintentional comedy aspect that allow normal humans a rationale for watching.  Something like FOX's The Moment of Truth (which I utterly detest) can be forgiven for it's desire to be an insightful social experiment.  What value does My Dad is Better Than Your Dad have?

Therein lies the rub, I suppose.  Like I said above, the show is harmless.  It doesn't attempt to be anything it's not, despite the fact that what it is is terrible.  And, as sick as it makes me to say this, it's hard to blame NBC.  When you can exhume Dan Cortese's corpse and produce a show like My Dad is Better Than Your Dad for pennies, why the hell not?  It's still going to get more viewers than Friday Night Lights.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)