Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Best: TV Dads of All Time

In honor of Father's Day today, I thought we'd recap the best TV dads.

Now this is not as easy as it sounds, considering that television is, for lack of a better term, a moral cesspool.  Too often the dads are the "cool" dads who buy their kids condoms or they are buffoonish bums.  But we cannot deny that what we watch on tv influences the culture, so we should try to find good examples of fatherhood out there on the airwaves

10.  Rick Castle ("Castle")

He is on the list for the pure cool factor.  He would be the rare exception to this list that finds his place because he has a great friendship with his daughter.  But he isn't afraid to go all Liam Neeson in Taken if it means protecting her.

9.  Jay Sherman ("The Critic")

This schlubby loser whose ex-wife hates him finds nothing but joy in his son.  And he goes out of his way to make his son's life better, which is why his son idolizes him.

8.  Benjamin Sisko ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine")

Unlike other commanders in the Star Trek Universe, we got to watch Sisko deal with the trials of being a single father, watching his son grow up to be a man as he balanced his responsibilities against his family, but never forgetting either.

7.  Angel ("Angel")

The main character of this Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off has a lot of flaws.  SPOILER ALERT, but when it came to his son Connor, there was no price he wasn't willing to pay, whether it was giving him up as an infant so he could have a chance at life or giving him away again as a teenager so that he could have a chance to be happy.

6.  Harold Weir ("Freaks and Geeks")

Simple, yet relatable, Harold is the average father doing his best.  And even his flaws in parenting, like always being more worried about his daughter than his son simply because she's his daughter, are understandable and endearing.

5.  Red Foreman ("That '70's Show")

While nearly everyone on that show was a moral degenerate, Red was the constant boot in their you-know-where to help them grow up.  Tough as nails, he gave what structure.  And though he wasn't warm and fuzzy, he was always there for his kids (even his kids' friends).

4.  Keith Mars ("Veronica Mars")

This was a smart, funny, hard-working dad who put everything he had towards the happiness of his daughter.  Yes, he bent or broke the law every once and a while to do it, but he always did it with his daughter's happiness in mind.

3.  Philip Banks ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air")

Uncle Phil could have been a simple over-bearing stereotype.  But he was tough and tender as needed.  He was as much a father to Will as he was to his own children.  The episode where Will's dad comes back is particularly poignant and shows what a real father is.

2.  Heathcliff Huxtable ("The Cosby Show")

No television dad reminds me more of my father.  I think people misremember Cliff as being wacky and fun-loving.  In fact, he was a stern disciplinarian who pushed his kids to make good life decisions.  The humor tended to come from his exacerbation at the idiocy of his children.  But he always put them first and was a great role-model.

1.  Jonathan Kent ("Smallville")

Speaking of role models, there is none better than Jonathan Kent on Smallville.  In fact, that is his whole function to the Superman mythos.  He gets his powers from his Kryptonian parents, but he gets his heroism from his earthly ones.  Jonathan gives Clark the moral compass he needs to understand that his powers are a gift to help others.  And while he did make mistakes, he always did so with the intent to help his family.  He was the one who taught Clark not only how to be a Superman, but how to be a man.

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