One of my chief concerns going in is that they would overplay the generational concern: in the effort for heightened conflict, they would villainize the dads to the point where you're hoping the sons find them a nice home, post-haste. You know, go the route of Everybody Loves Raymond.
But so far, I'm impressed. Of course the fathers and sons are having communication problems. Of course the sons rag on the cheapness, business ignorance, and personal quirks of their fathers. But in the end? Warner can't deliberately hurt his dad's feelings, and Eli wouldn't consider not helping his dad out.
Will they regret these decisions? Yes. Will there be more hijinx, largely brought about by a failure to communicate? Of course. But isn't that basically the definition of a family, even one that gets along relatively well?
In short, I applaud the tone they chose for the major dynamic the show is going to explore. But creating a show that doesn't blindly hate on another generation isn't enough to make me love it, it's just enough to keep my attention. The real brilliance of this show so far? The casting.
I want to spend five pages talking about Seth Green's return to a character that is sexy, cool, and capable, but I also want you to keep reading, so I'll restrict myself to saying it is long overdue. While he is a hilarious character actor, and can play the anemic nerd, crazy homeless man, and spineless sycophant to perfection, I love seeing him play a confident man once again, without losing his chance to display his physical comedy chops. Also, I just want to mash my face against his face for a while. But I digress.
Speaking of casting against type, choosing Giovanni Ribisi was another surprise that panned out. I've never been able to see him as anything other than Frank Bouffay, Jr.: he's like the significantly less attractive Jesse from Breaking Bad, ten years and so many drugs late. But Gio delivered a performance that was candid, smart, and funny, with a smokin' wife that I almost believe he could get in real life. Throw in with that Peter Riegert's deliciously silly lip-smacking and Martin Mull reeling back his Gene Parmesan tomfoolery into something contained and delightfully absurd, and I just had a magnificent 22 minutes of fun.
I feel like I'm supposed to comment on the controversy surrounding the pilot dressing Brenda Song up as a slutty Japanese school girl, but I find that I can't muster up any kind of outrage, particularly since Song's character seemed perfectly able to stand up for herself when she needed to throughout the episode. I obviously fail at Internet, since I can't release the moral outrage at every possible infraction.
One side-note before I close: who else is dying to know who finally picked up the check? Did they end up picking the hidden third option, dine-and-dash?