Petr works as a lifeguard, but the pool is suspiciously empty. And there is also a void in the personal life of this 50-year-old divorcee. All his life he took care of three daughters, only now he starts to think more about himself. The TV series Dad in Trouble, produced by Nova, which can also be watched in the Voyo video library, fills the TV screen with ordinary heroines, everyday situations and sometimes a considerable portion of naivety.
When Peter, played by Martin Pechlát, sees a new swimming lover in the pool, the agile pensioner and local resident immediately highlights the lifeguard’s qualities, including the essential fact that he is divorced. However, it is not necessary, we immediately see that a spark has jumped. There will be no shortage of similar romantic flare-ups in the opening episodes.
The sympathetic Dorka, played by Petra Hřebíčková, is not the only woman who appears in Peter’s life. Soon, the eldest daughter, who is running away from a relationship, finds herself in the family house in the Garden City in Prague. And then the youngest too – she lived in Brussels and is currently running away from her mother.
Screenwriters Benjamin Tuček, Marek Matoušek and Radovan Snítil adapted the originally Hungarian series. The Czech version is based not only on Martin Pechlát in the role of a somewhat clumsy father, who pays too much attention to the rules, but above all on many female protagonists. As they say at the beginning, everything ends with a wedding and also a scene in which the hero strangles someone. The story constantly revolves around rapprochement and separation.
However, no major revision of the romantic comedy genre, which would perhaps be indicated by the great unknown in the form of a wedding and the subsequent perhaps capital crime, is taking place. Already the opening voice of the narrator leads the audience by the hand all too safely. Instead of shutting up two or three sentences earlier, he explains the obvious.
Dad in trouble is such a lame relative. He knows how to work with ordinary, everyday dialogues, he relies on the chemistry especially between the sisters Viky, Laura and Alex, who suddenly find themselves under the same roof again after years. Although the youngest Alex, played by Veronika Divišová, is on the verge of puberty and adulthood, and her most common response is a raised middle finger, the girls are clearly close and care about each other.
Veronika Divišová in the role of Alex, Štěpánka Fingerhutová as Laura, Martin Pechlát as Petr and Agáta Kryštůfková in the role of Vika. | Photo: Jakub Caha
Even the moments of the first dates are believable, for example when the oldest Viky, played by Agáta Kryštůfková, trades a job in a cafe for… another job in a cafe. And he starts to find that the new boss is a lot less of a jerk than the previous one.
However, some script solutions do not sound so realistic anymore. It is not so much about coincidences that bring the characters together and they discover that they are not complete strangers. Rather, it is about the cadence of mistakes and missteps, which, in the spirit of soap operas, constantly bring most of the protagonists together and disintegrate them.
Compared to dozens of soap operas and most Czech romantic comedies, it is positive that – at least for now – there are no outright negative, manipulative characters.
But they are not completely out of life on the other side either. Almost all of them either act out of proportion to their age or mask their true nature by constantly drinking and pretending. An exotic wedding or an immediate breakup are the order of the day in the series, usually a trivial reason is enough. And we don’t know enough about the heroines to understand them.
As a consumer sitcom with a bit of romance, however, Dad in Trouble is a decent standard thanks to solid acting and, at times, atmosphere. It’s a pity that this is still the type of work that has fallen asleep in time and lives in a world where the viewer is an all too undemanding creature.
The 50-minute footage indicates greater ambitions, but don’t expect any psychology of the characters. It’s a series where at least once per episode someone has to fall “funny” – although unlike many domestic acts, this is not a natural feature of all women. And so Dorka falls because she got drunk, and her friend Petr because he couldn’t eat them. But this still does not represent a performance that should be applauded, only the bar is no longer underground, but somewhere near the knees.
The music of the bands Mňága and Žďorp often plays in the series. And for now, his tone is similarly positive as the voice of frontman Petr Fiala.
Daddy in Trouble is a slight departure from the genre that doesn’t require you to hang your eyes on the screen. It just lacks the individuality and charm of the simplicity of Mňága’s songs. The almost one-hour episodes do not seem endless, even though the director Petr Zahrádka is more of a routine. But less than a third of the way through, one has to wonder if there will be too many breakups and loves on the way to the final sixteenth episode. Even now, some of the plot twists are very powerful.