Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Baby Daddy "The Slump" Review

Ever wonder what a random blogger thinks about your favorite show? Well, wonder no more. During the slow summer months, I'll tune into random shows and write about them. The 2013 edition of this begins with tonight's episode of Baby Daddy, a show on I accepted for what it was last summer.

Baby Daddy hasn't changed at all since the "Pilot. Well, it has changed in small ways. The main character isn't stunned that he has a child. The opening scene shows how comfortable he's become as Emma's father. He's bathing her, joking around, but he's also lamenting his lack of a sexual partner to his best friend and brother. Tucker and Danny also deal with their own respective slumps. Baby Daddy's a traditional sitcom with all the comfortable tropes of a sitcom format. When Ben meets a girl, of course she's revealed to be Tucker's top competition for a promotion; and of course when Danny's enduring a slump in his professional hockey career, he doesn't bother working on his actual game at all. The mother overreacts and displays the qualities she dreads her son dwelling upon in his therapy sessions. The stories are easy, light-hearted, with little stakes--a fine way to enjoy 21 minutes on a Wednesday night; the characters motivations are easy to understand, and characters are able to understand one another. The world of Baby Daddy is cozy and warm, like a baby wrapped in his or her blanket in his or her crib. The situations are familiar from sitcoms long ago, and the same-ness of Baby Daddy is worthwhile in a world that's uncertain, unpredictable.

The Ben/Tucker story is made of the stuff you can find in "How To Write Screenplays" books. It is the most basic story. Ben meets a girl who is revealed as his best friend's rival for a position he loves. In a previous episode, Tucker got a job in television; now, he has the chance to become an associate producer. Tucker doesn't want Ben dating a woman he hates, but Ben wants to because it's the basics of storytelling conflict. It's been done many times before on television and will be done many times more. I wouldn't even call it a story; it's more of an exercise in how creatively bankrupt writers get away with being creatively bankrupt. Ben continues dating Tucker's enemy despite Tucker's request that he not date her. The girl's never aware of Ben's best friend, so this leads to a scene that bummed me out. Tucker's in the apartment, yelling about the girl, but glad to hear his friend won't pursue anything more with the girl. Ben, meanwhile, has her in the room and won't let her leave for fear her and Tucker will cross paths in the apartment. The story reaches the predictable point where Tucker loses the job to her after Ben gave her a pep-talk.

Ben needs to clean up his mess in the third act, so he helps the girl land an interview with the New York Rangers. Tucker wonders why Ben didn't hook him up with a job in the Rangers. In Baby Daddy, the women seem to rule. Riley, who had fat jokes directed at her in the pilot, is the reason Danny's in a slump. Ben and Danny's mother is loud and obnoxious, overbearing and overwhelming, manipulative, and so on, but she doesn't ground the action to a halt. Her qualities are played for laughs. Ben and Danny basically ignore her eccentricities, though. Riley's role is essentially the same as it was, though the show added a boyfriend for her to create more dramatics between her and Danny. Danny hasn't scored a goal in six weeks because of his love for Riley that he's kept to himself. Riley and Danny won't date each other, though. Plot devices are in the way. The oft-mentioned but never seen Fitch is a plot device, and the pretty Dr. Shaw, NYR team psychologist, is a plot device. Their romantic union isn't for the fifth episode of the second season--that's a season finale storyline.

Baby Daddy's easy to watch for the casual viewer. The characters and their situations are broad. A 'previously on' isn't necessary. I haven't watched an episode of Baby Daddy since the "Pilot." One of the goals of my nonsense summer project of tuning into random shows and then writing about them is to figure out if it's possible for show x; if it's not, I'll write about musical cues for four paragraphs. Baby Daddy has an astonishing lack of laughs. Melissa Peterman's rambly monologue about her value as mother to Danny was the only time I laughed during the episode. Peterman's brand of comedy has an infectious quality. She was good on Reba, and she's just fine as the mother forcing her way into her sons' lives. Tahj Mowry remains the most comedic performer of the young adults. The other three actors are not very good, though Derek Theler does what he can with a lazily written jock character. Danny's a jock with feelings, though. I assume creator Daniel Berendsen thought he was breaking the mold with that character choice. Danny's career as a professional hockey player is barely explored. Throughout his slump story, I wanted to yell at the TV that Danny needs to go to the rink and practice. He's always in the apartment. Maybe season three can have an out-of-date flashback in which Danny reacts to Torts' firing. The show's not about Danny's hockey career. Danny's slump serves his personal story just fine, since he learns to open up more about his feelings rather than keep them bottled up.

Ben doesn't learn a damn thing. He learns the ways he can disappoint his best friend, and Tucker learns that his friend will screw him over to screw a girl. The baby's barely a factor in this episode. I can't assume the baby's forgotten about in every episode, but it wouldn't surprise me. I gathered from this episode that baby Emma is around for the audience to coo at and melt over. The baby is adorable. The main character should learn a lesson by the end of an episode. Berendsen's show is already derivative. Why break tradition by Ben acting like an ass through to the end without learning that being an ass isn't nice? Baby Daddy is scattered, flawed, but a pleasant little sitcom that requires no thought.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.