The six guys are introduced talking with customary reality-TV bravado about how they have little intention of growing up, variously expressing their love for drinking, smoking pot and flirting with women. Their frustrated mates, for their part, admit to being cheated upon but are mostly presented as more mature, if perhaps not particularly adept in the art of birth control.
Admittedly, many young guys (and a few of us older ones) are over their heads dealing with a baby, but when one participant is revealed to have “DEAD BEAT” tattooed across his knuckles, you know the casting department has outdone itself.
Enter Dr. Jeff, whose job is to scare them straight — or perhaps more accurately, “Scared Flaccid.” He puts the group through a kind of boot camp intended to demonstrate the challenges of fatherhood, saying the women are “fed up” with their behavior. They must shape up, he warns, or the gals will opt to raise the kids without them, and they’re “going to have to abide by that decision.” (Whether this is legally binding, as one contestant notes, seems dubious at best.)
The sober messages about parenting, in other words, are obscured by the mish-mash of reality elimination and “Celebrity Rehab.” Things get worse, moreover, in the second hour, when the couples engage in a series of spittle-spraying screaming matches.
As described, “Dad Camp” has its heart in the right place, seeking to demonstrate the sizable gap between siring a child and actually parenting one. The TV imperative to foster drama, however, ultimately trumps its good impulses in these first two hours, which mostly leave you feeling sorry for this group’s progeny — no matter how the show turns out.
Either that, or maybe it’s as simple as not entirely trusting a TV doctor who only goes by his first name.