UPN may be able to claim status as one of the few networks to introduce ethnically diverse programming in its new fall schedule, but the weblet doesn’t make the list for good taste. “One on One,” a father-daughter relationship sitcom, has its briefest of moments, but it has far too little of value despite a talented cast. This bumbling dad comedy — in a season full of bumbling dads (WB’s “Raising Dad,” ABC’s “According to Jim”) — drops the ball on a golden opportunity to explore relevant parenting issues in a comic setting.
Writer Eunetta T. Boone includes a few feel-good sentiments, but these are tacked on to the last few minutes of what is basically 20 minutes of “Booty Call”-like jokes. “One on One” is far too raunchy to be considered family fodder.
Flex Alexander stars as Mark “Flex” Washington, a sportscaster for a Baltimore station who fancies himself a celebrity, and uses his small-time fame and many tricks to score with the ladies. The only two people he doesn’t manage to impress are his semi-cordial ex-wife and his wise beyond her (12) years daughter, Breanna.
Instead of joining her mother in a one-year program studying whales in Nova Scotia, Breanna decides to stay with dad. It’s new territory for Flex and Breanna, who have never spent more than two weeks a year together.
For Breanna, staying with her dad is “is like going to Disneyland with Goofy as your personal guide.” Actually, Goofy has more sense. Although Flex is initially pumped at the notion of spending more time with his daughter, the reality hits home when Breanna becomes a big impediment in Flex’s love life. The running joke is how dad can’t get any now that his daughter is in the way.
The only stabilizing force is Flex’s parents, Eunice (Joan Pringle) and Richard (Ron Canada). Although the couple has a penchant for gambling at the track, they’re fully aware of the mistakes they have made with Flex and are eager to help with Breanna. Mostly, however, the shots are cheap and so are the laughs. Boone pokes fun at African-American culture too often at the expense of reinforcing negative stereotypes. Other lines — such as when Breanna challenges her dad’s authority with “What? You going to shake me like a British nanny?” — come out of nowhere.
Pratt’s Breanna is far too precocious, especially when you consider that all the sassy comebacks are really just a cheap trick to dodge writing smarter dialogue. For such a young star, Pratt has built up an impressive resume, including key roles in “Love & Basketball” and the “Dr. Dolittle” movies. She certainly could pull back on the over-the-top sarcasm and still be cute and funny.
The same holds true for Alexander. His charisma was apparent in a small recurring role on “Girlfriends,” but his performance here fails to score consistently. More on the level are seasoned actors Pringle (“The White Shadow”) and Canada (“Lone Star”), who get to ham it up but are more adept at nailing jokes without hammering them into the ground.
Tech credits are sophisticated even if the comedy is not. Ellen Falcon Gittlesohn proves a capable director and works well with editor Mark West.