Based on the book by Justin Halpern of $#*! My Dad Says fame, Surviving Jack comes from Halpern and Patrick Schumacker and puts Law & Order: SVU's Christopher Meloni back in a starring role on television, this time for a comedy with a 90s twist on Fox. The single-camera comedy is set in the early 90s in Southern California and has Meloni playing a dad who's taking a more active role in his kids' lives. That includes helping his teenage son Frankie through adolescence.
Here's the official synopsis for the series:
JACK DUNLEVY (Emmy Award nominee Christopher Meloni, “True Blood,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), ex-military and an oncologist, is a no-bull kind of guy. He sees little, if any, need to sugar-coat the truth. Up to this point, Jack’s been the parent who’s left for work early, come home late, eaten the big piece of chicken, yelled at his kids and gone to bed. But after years of deftly raising and running the family, his wife, JOANNE, is going back to law school, leaving Jack as a full-time parent for the very first time.
Jack’s teenage son, FRANKIE (Connor Buckley, “Deception”), is just starting his freshman year in high school. Lanky, quick-witted, self-deprecating and not entirely sure of himself, all Frankie wants to do is fly under the radar. But over the summer, he grew 10 inches, threw a no-hitter against a rival team and started to attract girls – all of which put him in some awkward situations – especially when the only base he’s ever been to is on the field. Fortunately, no matter how embarrassing the situations Frankie gets himself into are, Jack is there to pick up the pieces and lead his son to manhood…with the least gentle hand possible. Although Jack may be unorthodox, unfiltered and sometimes even unkind in his approach, his intentions are always good. For better or for worse, he’s Frankie’s only resource now. Even more confusing to Jack than Frankie’s growing pains are those of his daughter, RACHEL (Claudia Lee, “Hart of Dixie”), a gorgeous and super-smart 17-year-old high school junior.
Up until now, Rachel’s done everything right. No longer under the watchful eye of her mother, she’s now a handful. Jack considers the mind of the teenage girl beyond his (or anyone’s) comprehension – a fact which Rachel will take full advantage of. In addition to disciplining his own children, Jack must keep a watchful eye on Frankie’s best friends: GEORGE (Kevin Hernandez, “Get the Gringo,” “The Sitter”), an overly confident Mexican-American with a big vocabulary; and MIKEY (newcomer Tyler Foden), a tough kid from a broken home. Only time will tell if Jack’s blunt and unpredictable parenting style will keep his kids out of trouble, or if Joanne will have to put down the law books and somehow step in to keep the family order. Until then, Jack’s the dad the Dunlevy kids always wished they had – most of the time. For someone who is used to taking care of people with cancer, Jack’s got this…right?
With Oz, Law & Order: SVU and more recently, True Blood among his credits, Meloni's probably better known for serious roles, so a shift to a starring role in a comedy series could be an interesting turn for the actor. While it's a little alarming to note that the setting for this series is more than twenty years ago, the early 90s seems like a great setting for a retro comedy series, particularly for those of us who also came of age during an era of high ponytails and hypercolor t-shirts. Beyond that, it looks like there's a combination of awkward humor on Frankie's side and a dryer approach from Meloni as the practical dad, Jack.
Unfortunately we have to wait until midseason for Surviving Jack. Fox doesn't have a day laid out for it yet, but perhaps they'll find a place for it on Tuesday nights at some point.