Council of Dads

Text reads "Council of Dads" laid over out of focus strings of lights and party below

They got me. Jerry Bruckheimer and NBC’s “Council of Dads” really got me. Ever since the show was picked up in May of 2019, I was sure that it couldn’t possibly embody the promise made by the most obviously tearjerker concept I’d ever heard. Sure enough, it exceeded these expectations – and I’m saying this as a huge soap opera fan. To be honest I watched the first episode just to prove myself right, and then the second, after which I realized that it was exactly the type of cheesy emotional bait I needed right then, and every week thereafter.

In television and all else, timing is everything. After a midseason scheduling delay, Council of Dads premiered in late March, which was even two weeks later than originally planned. But that worked better for NBC than premiering the day the world shut down: halfway through March 2020, America reacted to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus by closing schools, workplaces, and by and large cutting off physical contact with people outside of our households. Which made a ridiculously melodramatic TV show just the ticket.

For me at least; I can’t say the ratings agreed, and therefore the show was cancelled after just one season. But I will always remember this show as the one that caught me by surprise. If you need to cry I can highly recommend. And it’s a really beautiful story, if one lets her guard and pretension down long enough to enjoy it.

The music and sweeping visuals were also something to be celebrated. There are so many great musical cues, songs that go behind people laughing or crying, tender moments underscored by voluminous orchestrations (what up Tim Davies) and the jib rentals must have been huge because there were so many big sweeping shots and magic hour conversations. It really was shot beautifully on location in Savannah, GA.

Timing is everything: the backstory with “Council of Dads” is that it was originally piloted in 2010 as a Peter Tolan comedy at Fox. When it finally did go for 2020, it only lasted one season. But I will always appreciate the escape and laughter at how hard I cried at this silly, lovely, family show.

Still from Council of Dads pilot episode
Exterior still from Council of Dads episode 1: The Perry Family, from L-R Charlotte, Theo, JJ, Robin and Luly
Council of Dads exterior still of the Council: from L-R Anthony, Larry, Robin and Oliver
Council of Dads: Luly and Evan look at Anthony for an answer, as Robin, Larry and Oliver look on
Council of Dads interior still: Peter, Tess, Oliver with arms outstretched with Anthony, Robin and Charlotte similarly ecstatic
Tom Everett Scott stands out of focus behind Sarah Wayne Callies in the finale of Council of Dads.  Exterior during magic hour, auburn sun setting as they both look forward.
The principal cast of Council of Dads holds sparklers and hands, spelling the word "LOVE" in a night exterior on the grass.

2 thoughts on “Council of Dads

  1. My mom and I watched this. We’re always down for whatever super sappy show the networks have for us. This one wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t perfect. Its drama was a bit severe, the timejumps were confusing at points, and it kind of couldn’t calm down for even one moment. I liked the characters and I love Sarah Wayne Callies and as you said, the show had a heart, so I’ll definitely miss it, but I don’t think its cancellation was unfounded. This is the same network giving us This Is Us, the gold standard for the genre, so compared to that, I’m not surprised.

    Liked by 1 person

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