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A&E's A&E's Austin-set Modern Dads fouls up as Duck Dynasty follow-up


The allegedly hard-pressed child-rearers of Modern Dads. A&E photo

Premiering: Wed., Aug. 21st at 9:30 p.m. (central) on A&E
Starring: A quartet of Austin dads named Nathan, Rick, Stone and Sean
Produced by: Rebecca Toth Diefenbach, Valerie Haselton Drescher, Jen Mayer Kulp, Lucilla D’Agostino, Adam Paul

Here’s a show where the person most interested in his own poop is not a toddler but a father.

Says rotund Rick, proud but infantile co-breeder of four: “Sometimes I’ll eat leftovers that have gone bad. I just like to sit on the toilet.”

His wife Meaghan, the family breadwinner, confirms this. “Rick loves the kids more than anything else,” she tells the camera. “Except maybe his bathroom time.”

No, this definitely is not what’s meant by the proud slogan “Keep Austin Weird.” But A&E somehow thinks it has the perfect companion piece for Duck Dynasty in Modern Dads, the Austin-based saga of four guys whose “headquarters” is kid-friendly Pease Park. It premieres on Wednesday, Aug. 21st at 9:30 p.m. (central) after a new episode of DD (11.8 million viewers for last week’s Season 4 premiere). This one may needs a ratings M.D. The audience fall-off has a good chance to be monumental.

Billed as “The Veteran” of four featured dads, 42-year-old Rick is a stay-at-home child-rearer to one-year old twin girls and sons who are 10 and 7. In Wednesday’s opener, he logs the most talk-to-the-camera time by virtue of his plan to throw a “Princess Party” for the twins’ first birthday. Plus he’s coarse, which never hurts.

Made-for-TV pals Nate (“The New Dad”), Stone (“The Single Dad”) and Sean (“The Stepdad”) are roped into helping him out in a “storyline” that’s seems super-contrived even within the parameters of your basic “reality” hoo-hah.

“The kids have basically done to my sex life what Godzilla did to Tokyo,” Rick says for no particular reason.

Meanwhile, hound dog Stone, 41-year-old father of six-year-old Danica, is encouraged by one and all to get a vasectomy. Which he briefly considers because “I need to start thinking with my other head.”

Sean, a 38-year-old stepdad to daughters Joopsy and Arwen, is the boyfriend of busty Rachel, who decides to share her first-hand knowledge that “the only tool he’s good with is the one he was born with.” Sean demonstrates by flailing about with a jigsaw before Rachel steps in to expertly build a medieval birthday party stock.

The fourth wheel, Nate, doesn’t get much to do in Wednesday’s premiere. But for the record he’s the stay-at-home dad of one-year-old Cormac while his wife, Truly, works long hours as a medical director. “Hell yeah I married up!” he exclaims.

It’d be generous to say that Modern Dads might jell in time and prove to be at least a half-assed companion for Duck Dynasty. But the first episode is just too relentlessly clunky and stupid, with Rick happily leading the charge. His twin one-year-old girls won’t even remember their Princess Party because right now “they have the mental capacity of hamsters,” he notes near the end.

Watching this may reduce your brainpower to a similar state. Better to sit on the toilet for a half-hour.

GRADE: D-minus

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