The Telefile
<I>Baby Daddy</I>: In Case You Ever Wanted a Weekly Version of <I>Three Men and a Baby</I>

To say the least, ABC Family's original programming is hit or miss. While I base my entire Tuesday night around the viewing of Pretty Little Liars, I cringe every time a promo for Secret Life of the American Teenager appears (seriously, Shailene Woodley, you're way more awesome than this mess of a show -- please go join the cast of Shameless). Yet perhaps the worst part of this otherwise mostly pleasant network is the multi-cam sitcom Melissa & Joey, a painfully unfunny show about a "manny" (that's a man-nanny for those of you who don't know) portrayed by Joey Lawrence who is hired by an overworked Melissa (everybody's favorite teen witch, Melissa Joan Hart) to help her raise her niece and nephew. While I've laughed more at the Advil commercials in between the show than at the antics of the clearly desperate '90s duo, ABC Family must have decided that they've found their own terrible "niche" when it comes to multi-cam sitcoms.

This may explain why ABC Family's new sitcom Baby Daddy once again features parental figures attempting to raise children that they didn't necessarily want and having zero clue as to what they're supposed to be doing along the way. (Wacky, incompetent parents? That's just comedic gold!) Luckily for ABC Family audiences, Baby Daddy is far less obnoxious and far mellower than Melissa & Joey.

The plot of the show is simple: Ben (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) is living with his brother, New York Rangers star Danny (Derek Theler), and his best friend Tucker (Tahj Mowry -- yes, the Tahj Mowry of Smart Guy -- like Melissa & Joey, you'll still have to witness beloved '90s stars in so-below-them sitcom roles) when an ex-girlfriend dumps their baby on his doorstep. Twentysomething Ben had no idea of the child's existence so, naturally, he's not super thrilled about the prospect of becoming a dad. But since the baby is probably the cutest baby in the entire world (awesome job, casting people), Ben's thinking about keeping the kid around for a while. It's all quite original.

While Baby Daddy never ventures into obnoxiousness (unlike, say, Whitney), the show may actually be too saccharine for most audiences. Ben, the "baby daddy" and inevitable star of the show outside of the oh-my-God-she's-yawning-that's-adorable baby, lacks any real personality and instead spews lines of dialogue that seems like they would fit better on the Pokemon animated series ("The three of us together, there's nothing that's going to stop us!"). Brother Danny is a larger presence on screen (physically he looks like he could squash Tahj Mowry) and is a womanizing professional athlete who somehow can't afford to live in his own apartment, despite being a professional hockey player. Naturally, my favorite character is the neurotic Tucker, played by Mowry ("You look like an eater. Just so you know, the left side of the fridge is mine."). He then scarily stares at Danny while labeling his food in black marker.

The cast is rounded out by Jonas' Chelsea Kane as the formerly fat friend Riley who is now gorgeous and in law school (fun fact: Kane had a hit song written about her by the band the Summer Set, which makes it even less believable that she was ever fat or unattractive, but whatever). Riley is also in love with super-dull Ben, which is a super-dull plot point since Ben seems totally incapable of having chemistry with any one. (Spoiler: Danny's in love with Riley.) Lastly, because overbearing mothers are sometimes funny on sitcoms, we also get a dose of maternal love from Ben and Danny's mom, who is somehow thrilled that she's suddenly the grandmother to the outcome of a one-night stand, even before she sees how freaking cute this baby actually is. Let's just accept that.

By the end of the first episode, Ben learns how to be a father (sort of), Danny is still secretly pining after Riley while she's secretly pining after Ben and Tucker is still desperately trying to regain control of his fridge. Baby Emma gets to stay and the roommates are totally cool with sharing their loft with a kid, which means that the show is basically setting up a Three Men and a Baby situation. But unless this show writes out Ben completely and makes it all about Tahj Mowry and the baby, I guess we'll have to settle for a harmless, generic sitcom that may mean less reruns of the ABC Family movie Revenge of the Bridesmaids.

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