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American Dad! Review

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by Casimir Harlow May 23, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    After The Simpsons, South Park, Futurama and Family Guy, you would wonder where animation creators could go with their ideas. All have proved popular - to varying degrees - but would any further endeavours simply be a matter of 'jumping the shark'? Well, now, from the creators of Family Guy we get American Dad! The question: is it any good?

    “We're at terror alert: orange, which means something might go down somewhere in some way at some point in time - so look sharp!”

    American Dad! is about quite an unusual little American Smith family. The family's father Stan is a CIA Agent, the liberal daughter Hayley is a peace and love environmentalist, they have a live-in alien for a pet and their goldfish has the brain of a German Olympic skier. Underneath it all, however, they still have - at least ostensibly - to deal with everyday family issues like teenage sexuality and rebellion and the ramifications of forgetting your anniversary, as well as make pointed comments on current issues in Amercan society (and the rest of the world), like terrorism, racism and homophobia.

    The jokes come hard and fast and don't take any prisoners, taking down Bin Laden, completely obliterating the Bush administration (with nods to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove), hammering home Whitney Houston's cocaine issues and mocking various semi-famous actors like Bill Pullman. In spite of all this, the truly funny moments tend to be the more Team America-style extreme send-ups, like a scene where a Muslim husband tells his wife (who is dressed from head-to-toe in black with just her eyes showing) to 'put some clothes on and get me a beer!” at which point the wife immediately covers her eyes, trips over the table and falls out of the window!

    We tend to also appreciate the smaller-scale humour, mainly because we can relate to it: having to tolerate unreasonable behaviour from your boss because you are vying for promotion, fathers thinking that none of their daughter's boyfriends are suitable, husbands feeling emasculated when their wives earn more than them and those petty competitions (which I assume are much more common in the U.S.) because people always want to have better things than their neighbours.

    American Dad! is definitely an adult comedy show, with lots of on-the-edge jokes but none of the bawdy humour of, let's say, South Park (although Cartman is pretty funny). It provides lots of satisfying Dirty Harry moments (with Stan happy to draw his gun to shoot anything that irritates him - even the toaster!) whilst constantly mocking the ridiculous misogynist nature of the selfsame lead character. Even the Area 51 Alien - Roger - and the demented goldfish Klaus get to make observations on the often ridiculous behaviour of the family, only adding to the hilarity of the show and aside from famous guest vocalists like Bill Murray and Gina Gershon, we also get our very own Patrick Stewart playing the recurring role of Stan's boss. All in all, it is possibly the funniest and best animated show that I have come across since The Simpsons.

    Here we get the entire first season of American Dad! Across it we see Stan taking his family to the Middle East - with disastrous consequences, Hayley run away from home to become a stripper, the fourteen-year-old son Steve get involved with an older woman - much older, Roger the alien developing an alcohol addiction and the wife, Francine, relive her rebellious twenties. It's great stuff - thirteen episodes that will leave you desperate to see more from this family.

    Episode List:
    1. Pilot
    2. Threat Levels
    3. Stan Knows Best
    4. Francine's Flashback
    5. Roger Codger
    6. Homeland Insecurity
    7. Deacon Stan, Jesus Man
    8. Bullocks to Stan
    9. A Smith in Hand
    10. All About Steve
    11. Con Heir
    12. Stan of Arabia (Part 1)
    13. Stan of Arabia (Part 2)