American Dad: Volume 4
Any problems caused by the writers’ strike certainly don’t show in the quality of American Dad Volume 4 episodes in fact there are so many excellent episodes in this boxset that it's difficult to choose favourites but here are just a few...
In Tearjerker Stan plays a 007-type secret agent, in a fantastic James Bond parody, in which his mission is to stop the evil Tearjerker (played by Roger) from creating a movie so sad that anyone who sees it will cry themselves to death.
Widowmaker is a true American Dad classic that sees Stan opening up emotionally to Francine after receiving psychiatrist treatment from a disguised Roger who is playing at being a psychiatrist.
Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie's Gold sees Stan determined to leave a legacy and finds him searching for legendary buried treasure beneath his house. He looses control of the kids and Francine is understandably annoyed. In a common, but classic, twist for American Dad, Stan finally realises at the episode’s denouement that his legacy is his children and that he must be a better father.
In 1600 Candles it comes as a surprise that the Smith family are planning to celebrate Roger's 1,600th birthday but viewers need not worry, unsurprisingly, something derails the party plans – Steve finally hits puberty and Stan and Francine are terrified of having a hormonal teenager in the house. In a golden American Dad scene Francine says that she is leaving as she can’t cope with it –until she conjures up a more devious method of controlling Steve.
Worthy of special note is Roger who has to be the best character in American Dad and certainly my favourite. Roger is the lovable, but alcoholic, affection-craving alien, and queen of the soap-opera-style bitches. In this boxset his character develops even further than before as he brings out a variety of new wigs and disguises – yes he loves disguises. His finest episode is The One That Got Away in which he discovers in true Fight Club style that one of his personas has taken on a life of his own. It’s a fantastic episode and stand out as being one of the most inventive storylines ever to appear in American Dad.
There are the usual crazy, and frankly ridiculous storylines that we have by now come accustomed to, which are, let’s be honest, part of the appeal. Every episode Stan seems to alienate his family, his boss, or his neighbours due to one or another, usually bigoted, deep-seated belief such as racism, homophobia, love of guns, misunderstanding of any and all forms of love, or just plain puerile behaviour. Naturally he always learns the errors of his ways – at least until the next episode.
The only negative element is the occasional joke that goes too far and ends up coming off as distasteful, but as there is always a fine line to walk with comedy this is more or less forgivable. However I would like to point out that the preoccupation that American Dad has with ‘jokes’ relating to people being raped is completely unforgivable. Why is that ever funny? It’s not. Positively however the crudeness of humour rarely sinks to some of the low points that Family Guy is prone to.
Overall American Dad is consistently funny and amusing, it’s certainly in my opinion, currently the best animated comedy and has been for some time. It is literally laugh-a-minute stuff, which can’t be said for all TV shows, even the one’s that do bill themselves as comedy. The moments of perfect pitch-black humour, that pop up every so often, are worth the cost of the boxset alone.