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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2012-2013 season, now in its seventh year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
DADDY'S GIRLS (BUSTED NBC PILOT)
(written by Dana Klein; directed by Pamela Fryman; TRT: 21:11)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? I'll try and resist the urge for a pithy quip like: jokes.
The plot in a nutshell: When Penelope "Pen" Morton (Christine Woods) returns from the Sudan after a stint with Doctors Without Borders, the literal last thing she expected to find was her schluby, divorced dentist father Robert (Scott Bakula) engaged to Holly Timmons (Nicky Whelan), the most popular girl from her high school days, who now works at a day spa. And yet she does, a development made all the more worse by the fact that "Bobby" is blissfully happy, not to mention become something of a babe in his own right under Holly's tutelage. (Pen: "Does mom know about this?" Bobby: "That after she left me I started dating a girl who looks like a Victoria's Secret model? (Smiles.) Yeah, it came up.") You see, Pen was nowhere near Holly's social circle in those days and the years since have done little to dull her unabashed hated of her.
Horrified by the prospect of Holly as her future step mother, Pen nevertheless agrees to keep an open mind. This of course lasts about five minutes, as Pen and Holly quickly find themselves pressuring Bobby to make choices that will prove he loves one more than the other. Ultimately, Pen decides - despite the best efforts of best friend/gay nurse Gabe (Cedric Yarbrough) to rein her in - there's only one explanation: Holly is a gold-digger and has manufactured her entire relationship with Bobby to get at his money, a theory she'll go to any means to prove. This of course couldn't be further from the truth, as in typical sitcom fashion not only does it turn out Holly is the one who's actually better off, but she really does love Bobby. At the end of the day, Bobby has two girls in his life, whether Pen likes it or not.
What works: It's just as...
What doesn't: ...warmed over sitcom-y as the above suggests. Its real crime however is just how badly the show stacks the deck against Holly. As we see her now, Holly is nothing but supportive and sweet, extending olive branch after olive branch to Pen (she even teaches her how to flirt with her coffee shop crush, the horror!), her past misdeeds radioed in on occasion. Pen conversely is unfairly critical from the start, with Christine Woods herself laughably painted as "TV ugly" (she wears her hair in a ponytail! she doesn't wax down there! the horror!). She routinely comes across as petulant for no good reason making her open hostility feel painfully artificial.
As is custom with sitcoms however, all of the above would be forgivable if it was legitimately funny. Instead it's a mix of eighth grade humor (Holly calls Pen for help after Bobby's Viagra-induced erection lasts more than eight hours; Pen's waxing at Holly's spa is played like she's giving birth) and laugh-adjacent observations (Pen: "When she didn't sign my yearbook, I thought it was going to be the last time I would never hear from her again."; Cricket, Holly's BFF, played by Brenda Song: "I was going to be a doctor, a surgeon. But then I heard it's like 12 years of school and body waxer: six months. So I went with body waxer.").
The bottom line: In other words, no.