Picks and Pans Review: Daddy Dearest

updated 09/13/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/13/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Fox (Sundays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

D

Richard Lewis plays a divorced psychologist whose life is disastrously remapped when his father (Don Rickles), an obnoxious retired car salesman, moves in with him.

Glowering and screaming, Rickles flings out insults like water from a lawn sprinkler. In the pilot he addresses an Arab man as "Aladdin" and "Gunga Din" and tells him, "By the way, 7-Eleven called and your camels are blocking the aisles." In the second episode he counsels his young grandson to deal with a bully by stabbing a pencil in his eye. Rickles's search-and-destroy humor may amuse in nightclubs, but in a sitcom setting it's remarkably offensive. (Archie Bunker's inflammatory comments, it was always clear, grew out of ignorance. This guy is just plain mean.) So far, at least once an episode, someone exasperatedly says to Rickles, "You are such an ass." Believe me, that's an understatement.

Rickles isn't the only problem. The show's humor is labored. The timing and delivery of the entire cast is inappropriate and amateurish (particularly Lewis's). Everyone talks too loud and walks around in a curious hunched posture, gesticulating madly. It's like a convention of very bad Charles Laugh-ton imitators. Top it all off with a strident laugh track, and you have the makings for the most grating half hour in recent memory.

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