By Bill S.
It's Father's Day, and, as we do every year, we celebrate by remembering the movie and TV dads who make us grateful for the ones we had. This year, we'll spotlight three memorably awful TV dads (if your own dad was worse, you have our sympathies.)
Billy (Denis Leary) on "Animal Kingdom"
It might not come as a surprise that none of the Cody brothers has the same biological dad. Apparently when Smurf was on the road, she hooked up with a different guy and added a new kid to her brood. (Instead of forming a pop band, like Shirley Partridge, she opted to make petty crime the family business. Probably because the wardrobe was cooler.) It's hard to decide which of Smurf's exes was the biggest waste of space, but I'd pick Billy, the father of youngest son Deran (the "nice" one). After abandoning him for years, Billy drops back into Deran's life, reeking of cheap liquor, skunk weed, and poor judgement (all of which were probably factors in the kid's conception). He nonetheless earns Deran's trust, and repays that trust by sticking around long enough to help the Codys pull off one job, then heading to Deran's bar to help out with some cleaning -- namely, the safe, which he empties, and takes off all over again.
August Cartwright (John Emmett Tracy)/Dr. Ethan Campbell (Sebastian Roche) on "Batwoman"
After witnessing a car plunge into a lake, he dives into the water to rescue 13 year old Beth Kane. He brings her to his home...and holds her prisoner, to be a playmate/pet for his facially deformed son Johnny, who's also basically a prisoner, isolated from the outside world. He turns those children into monsters. As a bonus, he also recovers the body of Beth's mother, and keeps the dead woman's severed head in a freezer, with plans to transplant her face onto his own mother. He later surgically alters his own face to assume the identity of a respected doctor.
This guy would scare the crap out of Norman Bates.
Dr. Martin Whitley (Michael Sheen) on "Prodigal Son"
A prominent surgeon, responsible for saving countless lives. Also, a serial killer responsible for at least 23 murders. When his son discovers one of the bodies, and with it, the truth about his father, he's emotionally scarred for life.
Michael Sheen deserves an Emmy for turning "My boy!" into the creepiest phrase in the English language. In the Season one finale, we learn Whitley has also done severe damage to his seemingly normal daughter, leading him to proudly beam, "My girl!"
This guy would scare the crap out of August Cartwright.
I'll close with a message to all you Dads out there: Parenting is tough, and you may, at times, wonder if you've made the best choices for your kids. Take heart -- if you're not a murderous sociopath, chained to the wall of a prison cell, wondering when your kids will visit, then you're probably doing an okay job.
Happy Father's Day!