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TV Review: 'One' is a sad take on single fatherhood

Monday, September 03, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

UPN's "One on One," the first broadcast network series premiere of the 2001-02 television season, paves the way for several shows that follow with the same premise: Single dad raises a daughter.

That tried-and-true jumping off point also exists in CBS's "The Education of Max Bickford" and "Danny" and The WB's "Raising Dad." Other shows simply focus on the dad or father figure (CBS's "Citizen Baines," Fox's "Bernie Mac Show").

 
 
"One on One"

When: 8:30 tonight on WNPA.

Starring: Flex Alexander, Kyla Pratt

   
 

"One on One" is the first on the air, and it probably has the worst portrayal of fatherhood among the bunch (although Bob Saget on "Raising Dad" comes close in his cluelessness).

Flex Alexander stars in "One on One" as Baltimore sportscaster Flex Washington, who gets stuck raising his teen-age daughter, Breanna (Kyla Pratt), after her mother gets a grant to study whales for a year in Nova Scotia.

(Studying whales? In Nova Scotia? That may be the most ridiculous sitcom plot device I've ever heard.)

I used the phrase "gets stuck" because that's how Flex initially views his new full-time dad duties. After all, having the girl around will put a crimp in his active sex life.

"When my daughter's in town, my pants aren't down," he tells one of his lady friends in a phone conversation Breanna overhears.

"Dad, I'm behind your back," she says, "and your pickup lines are whack."

Cue gales of laughter from the studio audience.

Flex has a best buddy, Duane (Kelly Perine), who hangs around to pick up Flex's leftover women. Occasionally he forages on his own.

"Man, all this talk about whales makes me want to go down to Lane Bryant and find myself a big-boned girl," Duane says.

Coarse comedy is nothing new, of course, and sometimes it's even funny. But in setting up an ill-equipped father as a series star, "One on One" is often just a sad reflection of the American fathers who have shirked their responsibilities.

To be fair, Flex and the audience get lectured by Flex's more sensible parents ("You're the daughter, she's the father, only one of you can act like you're 14," his mother scolds), but it's too little too late.

Some viewers may relish the thought of going one on one with this sitcom every week, but I won't be among them.


You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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