NBC recently cut back its order for pilot-season scripts. Bad idea! I know we’re in the middle of a writer’s strike, but the network’s upcoming My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad (hosted by Dan Cortese, pictured) and America’s Favorite Mom sound unspeakably jank. At this rate, folks are going to be forced to sit around the table and talk to each other at dinnertime. And then what? Reading? Doing cross-stitch? Abandoning indoor plumbing for outhouses?

That said, with a few tweaks, I think these concepts can be saved. As it stands, My Dad will pit fathers and their children against each other in “stunt-driven challenges.” But why not make these papas prove their worth in the most grueling and important tests of all? If I produced My Dad, I’d have contestants face off against each other as they attempt to do the following:

  • Change a poopy diaper on a surly toddler with a severe rash.
  • Navigate a crowded Wal-Mart toy aisle on Black Friday with three kids — without any temper tantrums, and without making a purchase.
  • Help a teenager with her trigonometry homework. (Pythago-who?)

Similarly, America’s Favorite Mom could be must-see TV if it’s pulled from the clutches of Today, and turns its focus to mothers as they try to:

  • Give a guilt trip about missing Cousin Susie’s baby shower
  • Conjure up new, fascinating and paranoid scenarios in which their kids’ lives could be in peril. (Fasten your seatbelts!)
  • Awkwardly have “the talk” with their teenage sons or daughters.

What other challenges would you like to see on My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad and/or America’s Favorite Mom? Don’t leave these decisions in the hands of network suits!

addCredit(“Dan Cortese: Frank Trapper/Corbis”)