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Ph.Dad

A sitcom for the burgeoning academic market
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Following his layoff from a high-paying job (in what? Finance? Manufacturing?), a single dad (maybe Asian?) decides to "reinvent" himself by getting a Ph.D. (In science? Literature? Something useful, or ridiculously obscure?) So he has to balance the demands of his family (3 kids? 4?) with the wacky needs of his academic colleagues, and the Kafkaesque politics of his university... and then of course, there are all these single, attractive co-eds...
smendler, Oct 12 2012

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       The show would be noted for extremely erudite writing, with lots of obscure in-jokes that would only be accessible to the college-educated.
smendler, Oct 12 2012
  

       mmm.... not any stupider than current network fare.   

       "single dad" and "back to school" are established formulae   

       can't be Asian, that goes right up against the "martial arts'master", "solid family" and "excels in school" stereotypes which still have a long way to go... he'd have to run a martial arts school to be TV-believable which would be too many elements.   

       could be Black but, if a US TV show, it'd have to be a blue-collar layoff or you run up against the dual poisons of an unspoken "was he laid off because he's black ?" (though perhaps TV-land has transcended that), or the even worse being the antithesis of the successful "rising from the ghetto" formula.   

       any more than 2 kids and you automatically need a full time female major character live-in.   

       Of course "kids" automatically means "single, attractive coed" action stays G-rated or the guy looks like a tool; ditto the "needs of wacky colleagues" - both would just be background one-liners and filler.   

       Source of income is a tough one. University costs alot, and raising kids to TV standards costs alot too. If he amassed a fortune in stocks and bonds while working, that he's now liquidating, then why was he laid off ? Inheritance or barely adequate allowance is probably the only way to go; the rich relatives or situation can stay offscreen, out of sight and mind until the other elements of the show get too boring.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2012
  

       [FT] That's the wacky twist in the show - his PhD is funded by a scholarship given to "Native Americans" which he applied for and got, on the basis that he was born in America.
hippo, Oct 12 2012
  

       Rather than balancing "the demands of his family with the wacky needs of his academic colleagues" wouldn't there be a more ironic and subtle humour in pointing up that the two groups are exactly the same? Perhaps you could have a weekly formula whereby the 'academic' & 'family' threads run in parallel and lend themselves to exactly the same resolution each week, albeit cunningly & suitably packaged for its intended targets?
DrBob, Oct 12 2012
  

       [hip] problem with that is the same as the other stuff: if he has kids then he can't pull a major scam, or has to get caught and change to something else really early in the series.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2012
  

       What would be interesting is if the sitcom concept was acquired and produced in two territories at once, such that the programmes could be compared as equals (rather than comparing Steptoe with Stanford).   

       The US version would have Ph.Dad sent to kick it with the boat-shoed privileged at some fictional Ivy League campus, getting into bizzare Larry David confrontations with bitter ex-pat Soviet novelists, our hero later sent, by circumstances outwith his control, barrelling into frat house hijinks: hazing; beer bongs; ho ho ho near miss forced butt chugging oh what laffs, Bill Murray to cameo.   

       The UK version takes a different approach. Due to some financial and organisational mishap visited upon wur hero, he and his family are collectively assigned to Halls of Residence at some provincial redbrick. Wife, being an incipient and somewhat cougarish Mrs Wilberforce, uses her not inconsiderable wits and her hefty frying pan to see off tent-trousered undergrads and the occasional brown-corduroy sporting jurisprudentialist. Daughter, having legitimately won her place at the redbrick is horrified to discover that her dad is to tutor her in what is her favourite subject and about which he knows nothing. Possibilities for parent-child bonding that would be milked in the US model are here eschewed in favour of flashes of bitter invective. Son, being just into his teens, spends not inconsiderable amounts of his free time cluelessly plotting charm offensives on the nether regions of limber, heavy-lidded androgynes, chasing around, mouth open like the squirrel in Ice Age, thwarted each time by the clanging interventions of Mother. Father, well, his lot is in a way simpler as the audience’s surrogate in his dealings with the strange world of academe, PhD status giving him interaction with undergrads and professors, the two groups rarely barging in on each other’s separate worlds, Ph.Dad immersed at once in the vomitous hedonism of youth (bus pub crawl, foam party, yeast infection) and the flinty scheming of academics, shinning their way, publication by publication, to tenure. Looming over all of this is the terrifyingly proximate yet, alas, infinitely postponed horror of Thesis and Viva, adding the requisite patina of dread.
calum, Oct 12 2012
  

       //The UK version takes a different approach.//   

       How the hell are you gonna cram all that into four episodes (or whatever it is that constitutes a “season” over there?)
ytk, Oct 12 2012
  

       tbh, that's just my treatment for the pilot.
calum, Oct 12 2012
  

       //the wacky needs of his academic colleagues, and the Kafkaesque politics of his university... and then of course, there are all these single, attractive co- eds...//   

       You seem to have an overly optimistic view of the life academic.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2012
  

       /the nether regions of limber, heavy-lidded androgynes/   

       good gravy! The mental picture! The flashing lights! well said!
bungston, Oct 14 2012
  

       if you wanted a black actor you could always grab an already-established actor known for playing high- society roles, somebody like Bill Cosby, perhaps.
RayfordSteele, Oct 14 2012
  
      
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