A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Coach takes a look behind the scenes of a fictional competitive college football program. The head coach has an old-fashioned view of sports and competition. He's divorced, and he and his girlfriend live together. Neither of the two assistant coaches are very socially or intellectually astute, and these deficiencies are often mined for laughs. Not much football is shown, but wins and losses are discussed, along with football injuries, academic performance, recruiting, campus politics, and dealing with a difficult athletic director.
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What's the story?
IN COACH, Craig T. Nelson stars as Hayden Fox, head coach of a fictional division I-A college football team -- the Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. Loosely modeled after University of Iowa coach Hayden Frye, Coach Fox is an old-school, no-nonsense man's man. He's aided by (and plays straight man to) his two assistant coaches/loyal sidekicks -- cheerful but vacuous Luther Van Dam (Jerry Van Dyke) and perpetual dim-witted student Dauber Dybinski (Bill Fagerbakke). There are several smart, strong women vying for Hayden's attention: his television reporter fiancé Christine Armstrong (Shelley Fabares) and his college-aged daughter Kelly (Clare Carey), to whom Hayden plays a doting and protective father. The talented ensemble cast is also enriched by Pam Stone, who plays Hayden's chief rival, women's basketball coach Judy Watkins; Kriss Kamm as Kelly's boyfriend, Stuart Rosebrock; and Kenneth Kimmins as annoying college athletic director Howard Burleigh.
Is it any good?
This series epitomizes many of the reasons people end up watching their favorite shows for seasons on end. It has a comforting rhythm: Each episode begins with a tight comedic scene that showcases good writing and strong acting before segueing into a catchy, energetic theme song that virtually compels you to tap along in rhythm. A problem is introduced, and resolution is almost always found within the allotted 30 minutes.
Coach's funny and sometimes touching storylines benefit from strong writing, talented acting, and great on-screen chemistry. Most of the dilemmas Hayden faces are family-friendly fare; the show shouldn't raise too many eyebrows for parents of tweens and older kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it might be like to be a professional coach. What does the pressure of winning mean for both a coach's career and a school's reputation?
Coach Fox is serious about sports and a kind man. How do his views about football and competition temper his relationships with the strong women in his life?
How can team sports and the concept of sportsmanship provide perspective in the face of challenges and difficulties and help people make good decisions? Why is teamwork an important character strength?
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