Judge Dan Mancini thinks Seth MacFarlane shouldn't drag The Sugar Hill Gang into his lousy comedy.
Our reviews of American Dad! Volume 1 (published April 25th, 2006), American Dad! Volume 4 (published May 6th, 2009), American Dad! Volume 5 (published July 9th, 2010), and American Dad! Volume 7 (published May 25th, 2012) are also available.
Lord, I despise everything Seth MacFarlane touches. The fact that a dude who confuses profanity-laced restatements of pop culture memes with actual jokes has managed to create a show as strangely indestructible (and downright awful) as Family Guy, not to mention The Cleveland Show and American Dad!, is utterly baffling to me. His Family Guy spoofs of Star Wars are embarrassingly void of any content (funny or otherwise). I'd rather be water-boarded than watch Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy shorts again. Heck, I even found his voice performance as Johann Krauss in Hellboy II: The Golden Army irritating.
American Dad! fans be warned: If, based on that opening paragraph, you think you know where this review is going, you're probably correct.
American Dad! is a blunt and obvious satire of American politics and pop culture that centers on obscenely square-jawed and hopelessly stupid Republican CIA agent Stan Smith (MacFarlane) and his family: suppressed wife Francine (Wendy Schaal, The 'Burbs), liberal activist daughter Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies), and dweeb son Steve (Scott Grimes, Band of Brothers). The Smiths are joined in their adventures by Roger (also Seth MacFarlane), an abrasive, foul-mouthed space alien who escaped from Area 51 and is hiding from the government, as well as the family's pet, a goldfish implanted with the brain of German ski jumper Klaus Heissler (Dee Bradley Baker, Phineas and Ferb). Man, it's all so zany and original! Because Alf would've been a hundred times funnier if the hand puppet had dropped tons of f-bombs!
American Dad!'s satire (if you want to call it that) isn't offensive because of the targets it chooses to skewer (political conservatives for the most part), but because of how dull a skewer it employs. Great satire offends by repackaging accepted truths in such a way as to reveal their absurdity. Lacking the imagination (or perhaps the work ethic) required for such a thing, MacFarlane and his co-writers content themselves with trying to shock with profanity (seriously, what tiny percentage of the adult population is actually shocked by the word "fuck" anymore?) and a general mean-spiritedness that makes the show an exhausting marathon of characters constantly deriding one another, all the while regurgitating liberal political and cultural orthodoxy. Like all of MacFarlane's efforts, the show's episodes are mostly a haphazard collection of recycled pop culture shenanigans, absent wit, context, and punch lines. Biting social commentary? Not even close. There's certainly nothing in any of the episodes in this set that would make the show's target audience squirm (by contrast, the sacred cow-less satire in South Park will step on your toes eventually, regardless of who you are and what you believe about the world).
The previous volumes of American Dad! on DVD were a bit scattershot, but Volume 6 contains all 18 episodes of the show's fifth season, spread across three discs. The centerpiece of the set, really, is the Christmas-themed episode "Rapture's Delight," which I guess is supposed to be a full-frontal assault on evangelical Christians. Whatevs. Its storyline finds Stan and Francine having missed the end-of-times Rapture because they snuck away to have sex in a janitor's closet during a church service. What follows is Stan's transformation into a post-apocalyptic warrior (complete with a saw-blade prosthetic in place of his left hand) and a motorcycle-riding Jesus (who takes on Francine as his old lady) doing battle with the Antichrist. The episode is so lacking in anything resembling satirical bite that, despite its attempt at baiting religious conservatives into generating controversy (and, by extension, publicity for the show), it only garnered a few negative reviews (largely ignored by the media) from the usual media watchdog groups. The fact that this set treats it as some groundbreaking moment in television history would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.
American Dad! fans can rest assured that the episodes look and sound great on DVD. Half of them are presented in full frame transfers, while the other half received a 16:9 anamorphic treatment. Either way, color reproduction is excellent and detail is limited only by the animation. Audio is a perfectly serviceable Dolby 5.1 mix.
Special Features include crew commentary tracks (MacFarlane doesn't participate in any of them) on "In Country…Club," "My Morning Straightjacket," "Rapture's Delight," "A Jones for a Smith," "Merlot Down Dirty Shame," and "The Great Space Roaster," uncensored audio (and occasionally video) on most of the episodes, deleted scenes for all of the episodes on Discs One and Three, and a broadcast script for "Rapture's Delight."
American Dad! Volume 6 is almost 400 minutes of pure stupid. Run far, ran fast.
Guilty as charged.
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