Somebody at NBC really loved “Mr. Mom.” There’s no other explanation for “Daddio,” a recycled laughtrack-a-thon that looks and sounds like umpteen series throughout the history of television. Harmless, but full of stale, dad-as-mom bits, the Peacock’s much-hyped sitcom doesn’t feel quite right on the network — and the night — that’s home to vet laffers like “Friends” and “Frasier.” Stay-at-home fathers aren’t that uncommon anymore, so this fluff stuff comes off as extremely dated. Sorry, pops.
“Daddio’s” premise is staggeringly unoriginal. A gruff-but-lovable restaurant supply salesman gives up his job to raise four children while his wife works. Before you know it, there are cookies in the oven, meaningful talks and a whole new perspective on responsibility. Exec producers Matt Berry and Ric Swartzlander (“Ellen”) apparently boarded a time machine, set it for 1988 and visited the sets of “My Two Dads” and “Just the Ten of Us.”
Chris Woods (Michael Chiklis) has his hands full. With two boys and two girls, his days are made up of diapers, dirty laundry and life’s little puzzles. But he’s a millennium man, and no task is too tough, especially since Linda (Anita Barone) is earning the paycheck. He’s even part of a neighborhood group where uptight Barb Krolak (Amy Wilson) talks about breast-feeding and protective environments.
Oh, the suburban woes! Thirteen-year-old Shannon (Cristina Kernan) didn’t go out for the baseball team because she’s afraid her classmates will tease her; 12-year-old Max (Martin Spanjers) is trying to avoid homework; and 5-year-old Jake (Mitch Holleman) is wearing a tiara. But the kids are nothing compared with the ex-Marine (Steve Ryan) who moved in next door and resents Chris’ sensitivity. The only character missing from this bunch is Urkel.
Too contrived and agreeable, “Daddio” plays it safe all the way. From hugs to lessons, the usual narrative suspects are alive and well, in case anyone forgets that this is supposed to be good-for-you entertainment. It’s almost blasphemy that it bows on a night still associated with “Seinfeld”; must-see TV used to mean something.
Its few laughs come at the expense of the grown-ups. Whenever Chris gets riled up because someone doubts his nurturing abilities, he becomes an abrasive and sarcastic macho man with an attitude. That’s funny. The other jokes are not, and since they’re directed at children, they’re also unsophisticated. Chiklis is solid enough as the king of bluecollarville, but the rest of the cast — tykes included — are ordinary.
Execs may be looking hard for something to carry Thursday’s torch since “Jesse” and “Veronica’s Closet” couldn’t cut it. But here’s a piece of advice: Keep looking; this isn’t it.