Seth MacFarlane's new show Dads, which premieres on Fox this Fall, has been getting quite a lot of buzz. The premise of the show is two drastically different best friends, Warner (Seth Green) and Eli (Giovanni Ribisi), who together own a video game company that they founded in college. Their fathers David (Peter Riegert) and Crawford (Martin Mull) respectively, move in with their sons and invade their established and not so established lives. The concept of the show seems as though it could have the potential of a feel good, pithy comedy. However, the trailer is awful and it seems to be an overly cheesy sitcom rife with terrible jokes.
On top of the fact that the jokes are just bad, they have a very strong racist undertone to them, especially towards Asians. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) sent a letter to those in charge at FOX entertainment asking for the racist scenes to be reshot before the pilot premiered. Guy Aoki, the president, stated in the letter, "Fox has an opportunity to fix fatal flaws in the pilot and to improve the show's chances for success when it premieres next month. We are asking you to reshoot the inappropriate scenes of the pilot. Considering the consistent feedback from our community and television critics in general -- and the creators saying they hadn't properly defined their characters nor gotten used to their actors when they shot that first episode -- this sounds like a no-brainer."
The MANAA are well intentioned, and raise a good point. However, this is a creation of Seth MacFarlane, who is known for his outrageous humor. His biggest successes being Ted and Family Guy. Both projects were extremely rude and crude, Ted was a massive grossing hit and Family Guy is a cult favorite. A colleague of mine brought up a great point: it's much easier to get away with this kind of humor when its hidden by a talking baby or stuffed bear. That doesn't mean that a talking bear makes what's being said okay, but without this mask, his comedy is harder for an audience to swallow, especially within the context of a show that's disguised as a family sitcom.
It's no news that exploiting stereotypes, racist jokes, and sexism sell. The proof is in the ratings, and it applies to the majority of television we watch. If we didn't watch it, producers wouldn't make it. Period. Obviously, MacFarlane doesn't see the need to change his formula and the chances of him reshooting these scenes are zero, because people will probably watch Dads. The onus really lies with the audience. MacFarlane will tweak the show based on the audience's reactions. If his ratings drop, he'll most likely tone it down.
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Boldly proclaimed on the posters for Ted is a divisive phrase: "The first motion picture from the creator of Family Guy." Seth MacFarlane's kooky profane animated TV show has its diehard fans and vocal dissenters but the the writer's leap to the big screen is an impressive stretch that should suit both groups (or perhaps neither). The tale of a boy and his sentient stuffed bear Ted takes the classic mold of a '50s comedy and stuffs it full of MacFarlane's signature foul-mouthed humor. The result is sweet sick and satisfyingly simple. For a movie about a talking toy with a drug alcohol and sex problem Ted is surprisingly low concept.
Avoiding the over-explanatory storytelling pitfalls of most deranged comedies Ted cuts to the chase. When John (Mark Wahlberg) was a kid he wished for his teddy bear to come to life. Unexpectedly Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) did come to life dedicating himself to becoming John's best buddy forever. Integrating into the real world with the utmost ease (albeit finding momentary fame for being "that toy that came to life") Ted and John's friendship seldom hits a bump even when the human half of the pair finds love with Lori (Mila Kunis). The biggest hurdle comes four years into couple's relationship: Lori feels the urge to settle down; John is waiting to move up the ranks of his dead end rental car job; Ted just wants to smoke pot and watch more Cheers DVD commentaries with John. Real life problems.
Ted is an exceedingly pleasant viewing experience throwing curveballs to the central duo without losing any of the friendship and encouragement that makes both of them so lovable. It's hard to make a "nice" movie that liberally drops cuss-filled borderline-racist and perversely sexual one-liners like a twelve-year-old who just discovered his first George Carlin album but Ted manages it with MacFarlane's sharp ear for dialogue and well-constructed script. The film uses a few of Family Guy's cutaway techniques and more Star Wars references than any film since...Star Wars but it's all employed effectively to best tell the story of life long friends. Ted and John's love for the 1980 Flash Gordon movie is a clear demonstration of their fondness for childhood yesteryears — a memory that becomes the pair's major conflict.
Riding the whacked out success of The Other Guys Wahlberg continues his streak of great comedic performances nailing the everyman without letting John slip into obvious manchild territory (and doing it all with the perfect Bostonian slant). While not as dapper or madcap Wahlberg and the CG-animated Ted have a bit of Lemmon/Matthau rapport. They joke they butt heads they live life through each other's commentaries. It's great fun and wouldn't work without MacFarlane's natural performance and the digital effects to accompany it. The moment when Ted and John's bubbling tension finally brews over may be one of the best "fight" scenes of the year. The sight gags and potty humor won't be everyone's cup of tea but underneath it all is great chemistry that slathers the movie with charm.
A film that could have easily skewed to the Family Guy teen demographic defies expectations thanks to MacFarlane's old school sensibilities. Kunis modernizes the leading lady role with equal doses of spunk and romantic ambition. Surrounding the main trio are a handful of great comedic actors and famous cameos — another Family Guy-ism that feels oh so right in the movie's twisted alternate reality — with Joel McHale hitting new levels of creepiness as Lori's sexually harassing boss. MacFarlane keeps the direction as straightforward as the plotting jazzing it up with a rousing score by Family Guy composer Walter Murphy. Ted's script feels less confident summing the movie up in big summer style sagging when conflict takes priority (an absolutely bonkers Giovanni Ribisi shows up to add some wicked behavior in the second half of the film) but the whole package is a fun romp that delivers on laughs. Ted is stuffed with smiles and booze; see sometimes wishes do come true.
Marky Mark must wuv his teddy bear.
Mr. Wahlberg is currently in final talks to star in Seth McFarlane's -- creator of Family Guy -- upcoming feature directing debut, Ted.
The project, written by McFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild, tells the story of a grown man whose lovable old teddy bear comes to life because of a childhood wish. McFarlane will voice the bear.
Nothing is final yet, but it's an interesting choice for Wahlberg. And it actually might work quite well, because surprisingly, he's actually a pretty funny actor. Anyone remember his character in I Heart Huckabees? Plus, this past summer he stretched his comedic side even further with Will Ferrell in The Other Guys. And on top of that, he's always good in his Entourage cameos. Here's the thing about Marky Mark and being funny. The key to his success is to not take himself too seriously because whenever he does -- see The Happening -- he's pretty awful. (And I mean, really, really bad).
Plus, with this being McFarlane's project, I feel that he'll handle directing Wahlberg successfully. For example, anyone else remember when Family Guy mocked the "annoyed and confused" Wahlberg? I'm pretty sure McFarlane knows exactly what makes the seasoned actor funny, and will no doubt exploit that. And if Wahlberg decides against it, they could always cast Andy Samberg to take his place.
Deadline.com reports that Universal Pictures has acquired the $65 million Ted, an R-rated comedy that will mark the feature directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane.
The film, which was developed by Media Rights Capital, is a comedy about a man and his teddy bear.
The feature will mix live action and CG with MacFarlane also co-starring and providing the voice for the title character. The Hollywood Insider blog says the story centers on a seemingly normal man who, as a child, made a wish that he could talk to his bear, only to have his bear come alive.
The bear grows up alongside the man but one day the man's girlfriend poses an ultimatum: her or the bear. Sources told HI that MacFarlane wants to cast Mila Kunis, who has voiced Meg Griffin on Family Guy since 1999, as the girlfriend.
MacFarlane wrote the script with Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. He will produce with MRC, Scott Stuber and John Jacobs.
Deadline says the plan is for the film to go into production this year.