Christopher Meloni's new series isn't so much about the law, but there's no question he's still trying to maintain order. Three years after ending his long "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" run as Detective Elliot Stabler, the actor goes for laughs in the FOX sitcom "Surviving Jack," premiering Thursday, March 27.
Bill Lawrence ("Cougar Town") is among the executive producers of the 1990s-set show, based on Justin Halpern's autobiographical book "I Suck at Girls." Meloni basically plays Halpern's father, a no-nonsense doctor who becomes a Mr. Mom to his teen children when his wife (Rachael Harris) starts law school.
"I was kind of leaning toward this arena," Meloni tells Zap2it of tackling a more humorous project than he usually has lately, "and it's been borne out in that I feel lighter in my day."
And lighter in his new role, too: "I think people find it refreshing when someone is unapologetically himself, right or wrong. I've been comparing this guy a lot to Archie Bunker, without the racist element. He has a stance, and he can defend it, and that's a refreshing thing in this day and age, especially when political correctness is kind of the framework from which we make so many decisions."
That's also mirrored by Jack's matter-of-fact take on the lives of his offspring (Connor Buckley, Claudia Lee). He's not above slamming the door, literally, on a prospective boyfriend for his daughter.
"He's a doctor, so he looks at things clinically and analytically," Meloni reasons. "He's like, 'You're getting all agitated over nothing. Life will be tough enough as it is. Don't add to the agitation.' He does have the capacity for understanding people and where they're at, though. He won't coddle them, but there is an empathy to the man."