That was the appeal of syndicated action television like Adventure Inc., Jack of All Trades, or Relic Hunter. You get a cool name like Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, or Tia Carerre (someone with name and face recognition) and you put them in a vehicle to make the most out of their talents without spending too much money or trying to be too clever. If you can shoehorn in a reference to a familiar property, like the Highlander movies, so much the better. 

Netflix’s FUBAR takes a winning formula that’s powered hundreds of syndicated, basic cable, and network television shows, and in true dad fashion, refuses to change what works. The first episode sets up the major plot throughline of the series, and every episode that follows builds on that by taking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s CIA operative Luke Brunner and his team on a series of 52-minute adventures. 

It feels like the spiritual successor to those ’90s syndicated shows, because it plays out exactly like Lorenzo Lamas’ Renegade. Brunner travels around, searching for the bad guy, and getting into adventures without ever really feeling like he’s in serious mortal danger. There are stakes, but it’s Arnold, and you know he’s going to come out on top, because he’s the best, and the team of quirky characters around him (including his chip-off-the-old-Austrian-Oak daughter) are always there to support their best friend/hero/father.

Schwarzenegger is the key to what makes FUBAR work. He knows how to deliver quips, and this kind of light action comedy has become his bread and butter once the edges of the ’80s were sanded off. Think of Luke and Emma Brunner (Monica Barbaro) as a grown-up version of Commando‘s John and Jenny Matrix if both of them went to work for True Lies. There’s lots of fun technology and quips, some good action sequences to show that Luke can still kick ass despite being a grandfather, and Arnold gets to dispense good advice to the people around him while not being too good to learn from them himself. 

At no point does FUBAR take itself excessively seriously, which is the hallmark of a good Dadcore TV show. There can be serious moments, but there has to be some levity, too. Even reigning Dadcore TV champion Yellowstone has a lot of funny moments amongst the (admittedly more serious) drama, most of which are powered by specific side characters doing appropriate things. FUBAR, which boasts comedian Fortune Feimster and Kid in the Hall Scott Thompson, has no shortage of those moments, with Arnold getting in his fair share of quips along the way. 

Even when people die, it’s played for laughs, not trauma. Killing people is just part of the job for a CIA operative, and everyone on the team is willing to pick up a gun and pitch in when faced with an army of disposable bad guys. After all, they’re bad guys; nobody should be shedding tears for arms dealers or drug smugglers in the world of FUBAR. There’s no need for nuance when you can make a joke about a guy getting hit by a car in a funny way. 


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