"American Dad: Volume Four" DVD Review
May 12, 2009 by James Harvey
Definitely an under-appreciated series, American Dad has been one of the most consistently entertaining series since its debut a few years ago. While the first few episodes were rocky, the series quickly found itself and became arguably the best animated on the Fox Sunday line-up after the other under-appreciated King of the Hill animated series. Created by Seth MacFarlane and the gang behind Family Guy, the series has taken a noticeable turn away from the usual Family Guy gags and has become something all it's own. Full of likable characters and very pointed humor at the American way of life, American Dad has become a smart, irreverent, and jaw-droppingly hilarious animated sitcom.
From Seth MacFarlane, the twisted comedic mastermind behind Family Guy, comes another outrageous animated farce, the sublimely subversive American Dad. C.I.A. weapons expert Stan Smith is back, keeping the homeland secure while alienating his family and terrorizing his neighbors in the process. Whether he’s saddling up for a mad cow cattle drive or destroying evidence of President Bush’s drunken debauchery, Stan does whatever it takes to ensure domestic tranquility and make the world safe for democracy of the ultra-right-wing variety! Join the Smith family and Roger, their alcoholic pet alien, for the hilarious American Dad: Volume Four. God Bless America!
Definitely one of the best animated series on television, American Dad is a consistently hilarious and always managed to have a few surprises in store and, even in this fourth volume collection, the series shows no signs of slowing down. American Dad manages to skirt away from being a Family Guy clone and has found its own unique spin on things. Stan Smith and Roger (the alien) are undoubtedly the stars of the show, with son Steve Smith getting some key spotlights. These three characters in particular really seem to have a great dynamic going between all three, and its that dynamic that actually fuels some of the best episodes in this collection. Now true, the series does tend to usually repeat itself, particular with the "Stan learns a lesson" episodes, but they manage to juggle the cast enough to never become stale. In fact, even with these episodes,I find the show is consistently hitting its stride.
Not every episode can be a winner. For example, the episode "Spring Break-Up" falls kind-of flat. The episode comes off as just an excuse for an overabundance of tired sex jokes. And, to be honest, that's probably the weakest episode in this release. Stand-out episodes include the awesome James Bond spoof "Tearjerker," "1600 Candles," "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever," "Escape from Pearl Bailey," "Red October Sky," and "Office Spaceman." Now, that's nearly half the set, but those are the episodes that really stand out to me as the best. American Dad manages to offer plenty of laughs mixed in with some great plotting, some really inspired ideas and spoofs, and just great gags. "Escape from Pearl Bailey" really shines because it manages to hit every beat perfectly, every spoof dead-on, and every gag flawlessly, proving American Dad to be one of the most ingenious comedies on television.
Episodes featured in this release include "Tearjerker," "Oepidal Panties," "Widowmaker," "Red October Sky," and "Office Spacemen" on the first disc, "Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie's Gold," "Spring Break-Up," "1600 Candles," "The One That Got Away," and "One Little Word," for the second disc, and "Choosey Wives Choose Smith," "Escape From Pearl Bailey," "Pulling Double Booty," and "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever" rounds off the third and final disc.
Overall, American Dad: Volume Four contains an absolutely solid collection of episodes with only a single weak installment, and that itself is debatable. If you're tired of The Simpsons or Family Guy, than I recommend giving American Dad a shot. Not only does it turn the traditional standard family-oriented comedy on its head, but it has some of the most inspired writing of any of the animated comedies currently on television. While the show may suffer from the occasional poor episode, it really does stand above the current slate of animated fare. I could endlessly ramble about great Roger moments, some great one-liners from Steve, and so on, but this is one show that deserves to be experienced rather than merely told about. American Dad: Volume Four definitely deserves the Highly Recommended stamp. Full of great subversive humor, killer dialog, and some really inspired writing, American Dad is quickly become the show to top. Please don't let my poorly-written review stop you from checking out one of the best cartoons out there.
American Dad looks absolutely vibrant here, with each frame just popping off the screen thanks to a great audio/video transfer. While there may be some slight compression issues, which are barely noticeable, you can't beat just how great this series looks. Far surpassing broadcast quality, American Dad has never looked so good. And, thankfully, the sound quality is just the same. The 5.1 English Dolby Digital track really gives the audio an extra push, allowing every joke to jump out loud and clear.
In terms of bonus features, we get a rather generous helping of content that should keep viewers watching long after they've finished off the episodes. American Dad: Volume Four includes audio commentaries with the cast and crew of the series on every episode, over thirty minutes of deleted scenes, a featurette focusing on the "Tearjerker" episode, a featurette spotlighting Roger and his assorted costumes, and a forty-minute script reading from the 2008 Comic-con. It's a great collection of extras that fans will no doubt get a kick out of. The audio commentaries, a mix of neat anecdotes and self-congratulatory jabs, are enjoyable and worth a listen, and both the featurettes and Comic-Con table read are great additions to an already satisfying collection of extras.
Overall, Fox Home Entertainment has created a solid release in American Dad: Volume Four. While the amount of episodes is a disappointment, what we get here isn't anything to scoff at. The quality is sharp for almost every episode, save for one or two, and the bonus features are excellent! American Dad has really emerged as one of the bright spots of the Fox Sunday Night line-up, especially with the quality of Family Guy and The Simpsons taking a dip. It's a smart show, full of satirical and subversive jabs at the American way of life and, frankly, it rarely misses the target. Given the wealth of adult-oriented animated shows out there, this is one show that really sticks out above the rest. American Dad: Volume Four comes Highly Recommended!
American Dad: Volume Four is now available on DVD.