July 16 – Philadelphia Enquirer: In `Raising Dad,’ Saget has case of sitcom deja vu

Call it sitcom deja vu.

After eight years of playing a widower with perky daughters on ABC’s “Full House, Philly-born funnyman Bob Saget is playing-you peeked!-a widower with perky daughters on the WB’s new “Raising Dad.”

“When I read the script, my first reaction was, `I can’t do this. I did it already,'” says Saget in an interview before addressing TV critics gathered here.

“Then I immediately began fighting with myself. This character was the way I wish mine had been on “Full House.”

On “Dad,” brainchild of Jonathan Katz (“Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist”), Saget’s Matt is a popular teacher in the high school attended by his elder daughter, played by Kat Dennings, 15.

Though considered cool by her classmates, he’s a source of mortal embarrassment to Sarah.

Matt’s father, played by Jerry Adler, lives with the family. Adler will be instantly recognizable to “Sopranos” fans as “family” adviser Herman “Hesh” Rabkin.

On “Full House” (1987-95), Saget’s Danny Tanner was the perfect, one-dimensional TV dad, sharing his home-and most of the punch lines-with his two buddies. (At the same time, Saget had another prime-time hit, as host of ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”)

“John Stamos was the handsome hunk, Dave Coulier was the funny guy and I got what was left,” says Saget, 45, a Temple University grad. “It was frustrating. I wouldn’t make the same choices today because I’m not the same person.”

Prior to “Dad,” the speed-talking Saget had been concentrating on his directing and his edgy, X-rated standup routines. A few years ago, he wrote a comedy pilot with fellow Philly guy Marshall Herskovitz (“Once & Again”), but CBS passed on it.

Divorced four years ago from his wife of 15 years, Saget is a doting father to their daughters, ages 8, 11 and 14.

“I’m a better dad now than I ever was. I try to listen to my kids. I made a lot of harsh judgments about both my parents throughout my life, and now I understand they did what they could with the tools they were given. I have an amazing dad.”

On the parental embarrassment front, Saget cops to his share. “When you try to kiss your kids when they’re with their friends, they yell at you to stop. When you’re alone with them, they’ll allow you to give them all the baby love you want.”

Dennings, who is home-schooled, says her parents embarrass her in front of her posse, “but only on occasion.” Mom has been known to-say it’s not so!-sing in the car. Dad “did a little tap dance once, as a joke.”

Saget and Dennings have a couple of unusual connections. She shares the exact same birthday-June 13, 1986-as Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twins who alternated as Saget’s daughter on “Full House. And Dennings’ father used to teach science at Temple.

As a (younger) kid, Dennings was a “Full House” fan. “I thought Danny was so nice,” she says in an interview. “I thought, `He should come over and clean my room for me!'”

Danny Tanner would have made janitorial house calls, Saget says. “He was anal retentive. Very neat and clean. He was also very loving, very huggy. Fairly non-sexual. The perfect father.”

Saget’s new personna, a teacher, “is much looser, more honest with himself,” Saget says. “He’s not in denial about his life.”

Saget made no denials about his loyalty in the recent NBA finals. Though he lives in L.A. and knows some of the Lakers personally, he was pulling for Allen Iverson and his boys.

“I was truly, deeply sad they lost. It got painful for me to watch, so I went out and did stand-up.”