"NBC has been trying to replicate This is Us for a couple of seasons, and has found bottling that formula difficult to master," says Brian Lowry. "It comes a little closer than most with Council of Dads, an emotional concept that exhausts so much ground in the premiere it's difficult to foresee where it goes thereafter." He adds: "The concept is pretty astutely designed to tug at the heartstrings, even if it does so in a brazenly manipulative way. It helps initially that there are so many moving parts, but also offers a hazy blueprint as to whether Council of Dads can sustain interest after chewing through so much story so quickly...In some respects, the timing for this show -- one that unabashedly celebrates family, mixed with hardship and grief -- seems to come at an opportune time. On those terms, Council of Dads feels like a drama with a fair amount of potential. What it doesn't feel like, however much NBC would like it to be, is another This is Us."
Council of Dads' pilot chews through so much story it's hard to become emotionally attached: "Cancer affects millions of people, and it takes its toll on everyone it touches, but a pilot is a proof of concept, not a log line or a prologue, which is what Council of Dads treats its series premiere as," says Caitlin Thomas. "And as such, by the end of the hour, which concludes with Scott's eldest daughter, Luly (Michele Weaver), marrying Evan (Steven Silver), a man she met at the beginning of the hour in a cancer support group, it's unclear exactly what this show will look like as it continues every week. More damaging, though, is the fact the show, which is factory-made to trigger an emotional response, actually fails to connect with viewers on an emotional level because it summarizes what could have been an entire season of story in 42 minutes and then asks us to care about people we barely know."
Sarah Wayne Callies was happy to do a normal show after Prison Break, The Walking Dead and Colony: "It was the criteria for me in deciding what story to tell next," the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I took a moment in my career after Colony ended and I thought maybe I'm done acting, maybe I should be focusing on writing, directing and producing. And part of that came from a feeling that I would love to have a greater voice in what stories are told. Actors don't get to decide that — they're brought in at the last minute after they've hired a writer and a director, a casting director and production designer and the whole thing's financed. But I spent about six months just really trying to figure out what stories do I want to tell? Because I kept getting sent scripts and I went, 'No, no, I don't want to put this into the world.' When you've had a career like mine, every show with a gun, or an alien or a zombie or a dragon gets sent your way. I just kept thinking, 'This isn't what I want to put into the world.'"