By Ken Tucker
Updated June 19, 2010 at 03:08 PM EDT

Happy Father’s Day. Today I want to skip the usual classic-TV-dad debates (you know, the ones that pit Bill Cosby vs. Mike Brady vs. Homer Simpson) and narrow the focus to more recent, current TV fathers. Specifically, who do you think does a better job of fathering, Castle‘s Rick Castle, or Modern Family‘s Phil Dunphy?

Here’s my thinking on these two:

• Rick Castle is pretty much the ideal single dad. He enjoys spending time with teen daughter Alexis. He’s a novelist, which means he spends a lot of time at home trying to look as though he’s working when he’s actually just daydreaming, which leads to many good long conversations with Alexis. He treats her as the mature child she is, asking her for ideas and theories about the real-life cases and fictional plots in which he’s engaged. Yet he also sets limits for the kid, in a firm, bracingly old-fashioned way.

• Phil Dunphy may act like a doofus and be one of those dads who’s always trying to be cool and keep up with what kids today are doing. (Even though his idea of being cutting edge includes memorizing songs from High School Musical.) He refers to his style as “peerenting,” which means he acts as though his three kids are his peers, and adjusts his parenting accordingly. Yes, it may be easy to pull a fast one on Phil (as daughters Haley and Alex do all the time), but he’s absolutely devoted to his kids, even when it comes to trying to get his awkward, layabout son, Luke, to become a better athlete. Even if it means taking a few in the groin. Or embarrassing your daughter when her boyfriend visits. Bottom line: Phil cares.

What do you think? Rick or Phil? Someone else?

For more: Who’s the better TV dad, round 2: Glee’s Burt Hummel, or Friday Night Lights’ Eric Taylor?