Shout! Factory // 1987 // 435 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 5th, 2009
Before the days of DNA testing and the Massachusetts Supreme Court, a girl living with two fathers was a high-larious sitcom conceit. Revisit the adventures of Michael, Joey, Nicole and knock-out guest stars like Scott Baio and that guy who was in D.C. Cab.
So here's the deal. There's this little girl named Nicole (Stacy Keenan) and her mom died and because mom may have been a bit on the promiscuous side, no one's quite sure who Nicole's father is. The possibilities have been narrowed down to two former best friends: Michael (Paul Reiser), the uptight, investment advisor and Joey (Greg Evigan), the pretty boy artist who's got a definite George Michael thing going on.
Skeptical of the guys' ability to raise a child, the judge who oversaw the transition (Florence Stanley) decides for some reason to buy the apartment building where they live and KA-POW! just like that she's a recurring character. Another recurring character is Klawicki (Dick Butkus) who materializes about halfway through the first season as the owner of a dumpy diner that's also in the apartment building and BLAMMO! there's your secondary setting. As the first season crawls forward Nicole, Michael and Joey will encounter such riveting challenges as Nicole going to a make-out party, Joey and Michael fighting over the same girl, Nicole's first date (with a post-embryonic Giovanni Ribisi) and the surprising reappearance of Joey's best friend who looks shockingly similar to Davy Jones of The Monkees OMG!!!
The actual situation comedy may be relatively half-baked, but studying the evolution of the laugh track on My Two Dads is worthy of a post-graduate thesis. The pilot episode, "My Two Dads," was filmed before a live studio audience and let me tell you something, these folks were wired. Whether it was the quality of the writing (the jokes actually were noticeably sharper in the first episode than the ones that followed), or the startling newness of the concept of two heterosexual men living in a Soho studio apartment raising a pre-adolescent girl, or everyone was drunk before they took their seats, the audience was as raucous as a Roman mob watching lions eat people.
After that energetic debut, a laugh track was subbed in, and apparently to save money, the producers opted for the discount Disinterested Audience Chuckling version. Also, it's got the sound quality of a low-bit-rate WAV file. I suspect the studio burned through its budget on the elaborate opening credits sequence that debuted on the second episode, featuring Nicole, Joey and Michael traipsing through an animated New York City; it was never to be seen again, probably because it was the worst opening credits sequence ever created. Every so often, however, a live audience would be re-introduced, like in that Davy Jones show for example, where the assemblage of middle-aged women apparently couldn't get enough of watching their former boy idol in a mullet. (While I'm on the subject, a word about the sense of fashion on display in this show: "yikes.")
As to the writing of the show? Eh, typical '80s cheese. The scripts had their moments, with the best lines typically going to Paul Reiser, but no episode ever managed to out-laugh the pilot. What salvages the series -- and by "salvage" I of course mean "I watched the television and didn't lose consciousness" -- is the chemistry between Evigan and Reiser. Yes, Reiser's overwrought delivery can grow tiresome, but the two played off each other well and managed to by sympathetic, despite their often ridiculous parenting decisions (pull your daughter out of class to watch a has-been musician? Really?).
The full-frame transfers are adequate and about par for TV sets from this era. Ditto for the 2.0 stereo, though that low-quality laugh track is brrrrutal. Only one extra, but it's a decent one: Greg Evigan and Stacy Keenan, present day, reminiscing about life on the set.
Props for the refreshing lack of hacky gay jokes.
It's a warmed-over family sitcom with a gimmick, but there's no denying the series has charm with a better-than-average half-life.
Not guilty, I guess, but that's mainly because Greg Evigan's facial hair is a force to be reckoned with.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 435 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cast Retrospective