American Dad!: Volume 3 – DVD Review

americandad3
Available at Amazon.com

Seth McFarlane is a man of many voices and has a mind with numerous ideas rolling around in it. He brought us the Griffin family as they tried to live their quasi-normal existence. But McFarlane still had more rolling around in his head. The offspring of Family Guy, American Dad! brings us the Smith family as they try to live a normal everyday life in present day America . The only problem is that they aren’t the average everyday American family.

Stan is the man of the household and has a job in the CIA and loves his country just like every gun-toting American should. His wife Francine takes care of the household and likes to keep things going smoothly, even though she has a temper that doesn’t take much to get agitated. Hayley is their free-spirited hippie daughter who believes in making the world a better place through her odd, yet informative songs. Last but not least is the youngest member of the family Steve who is a young boy merely trying to get along in life.

Oh let’s not forget Roger the alien who lives in the attic and Klaus the talking goldfish. Klaus always has something witty to add to any conversation taking place near his fishbowl. Even though, oddly enough, his fishbowl always happens to be wherever the family is in the house. Roger has a bit of a drinking problem and is just trying to fit in however possible. He seems to do a damn fine job at it too considering he has a wide assortment of wigs and disguises (glasses) that get people to look past his abnormally large head and grey skin.

It really is a fun show and fans of Family Guy are sure to enjoy it, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t draw in much of an audience if Stewie, Peter, and the rest of the Griffins hadn’t come along first. It’s a shame too because American Dad has a lot of good episodes and really is a funny show. One thing it also has going for it, which has begun to take away from Family Guy, is the limited amount of flashbacks. There aren’t cut scenes to other shows or flashbacks to false memories but just a solid story from start to finish.

It wouldn’t be fair of me to really judge this volume of American Dad! because I was only sent a screener disc from the set. Make that a screener of only the third disc in the set meaning I only actually got to watch “Surro-gate” and “Franny 911” along with the special features. That includes not being able to hear any of the audio commentaries either from episodes on the other discs. You know if you like American Dad! or not, and Lord knows I do. That is why I’d be able to recommend this set for true fans even without seeing all of it. I’m just not at liberty to really say if the casual or new fan would enjoy this set as much as the first two volumes.

Episodes

Bush Comes To Dinner: Having recently entered an essay contest in hopes of getting a personal visit from President George W. Bush, Stan is overcome with joy to find the Commander in Chief standing on his doorstep. Meanwhile, Hayley challenges the President on his Iraq War policy while Roger and Steve vow to capture Osama bin Laden.

A.T. The Abusive Terrestrial: Roger and Steve have had a falling out, and now Roger must seek out a new best friend. Though Roger is indeed quick to find a replacement for Steve, his new pal quickly turns abusive. Later, after Steve and Hayley hatch a plan to get Roger back home, Stan takes a tour of the Mr. Pibb factory and comes face-to-face with the soda king himself.

Four Little Words: A blind date between Bullock and one of Francine’s friends goes horribly awry after Stan tries to loosen everyone up by getting them drunk and Bullock accidentally kills the woman. Terrified that Francine will start asking too many questions, Stan decides that the only way to ensure her silence is to frame her for the murder.

Meter Made: Stan is starved for power, and who has more power than the average meter maid? Upon embarking on his new career Stan quickly realizes that being a meter maid has it’s fair share of perks; not only can he land the best restaurant tables, but quarters flow freely from he meters and Francine seems impressed, too. Later, a visit from Parking Internal Affairs agent Turlington (voice of Forest Whitaker) convinces Stan that crime doesn’t pay, and Hayley becomes a nude model for a college art class.

Big Trouble In Little Langley: Francine’s adopted parents have dropped by the house unannounced, and now they’re refusing to accept Stan as the “man of the house.” Convinced that the only way of getting rid of them is to track down Francine’s birth parents, Stan sets out on a search and rescue mission as Steve strives to get frisky with the hottest girl in class.

42-Year Old Virgin: The guys are playing poker when it’s discovered that Stan is still a virgin. Of course he’s has sex, he’s just never killed anyone. Now, in order to get their old pal Stan some proper experience, Roger and the rest of the gang team up to find Stan a suitable victim.

Franny 911: Stan and Roger have just had a falling out, and Francine is convinced that she can help salvage the pair’s failing friendship. Of course what better way to convince Roger that Stan still cares than to arrange a fake kidnapping? When Stan fails to show up at the drop point to pay Roger’s ransom, the curmudgeonly alien suddenly realizes that he might start treating his friends with a bit more respect.

American Dream Factory: Feeling dejected about the direction his career has taken, a frustrated Stan falls back on his dream of producing festive teddy bears. But it’s not easy making a quick buck in America these days, and in order to turn a profit Stan hires in some illegal aliens. When Hayley catches wind of her penny-pinching father’s latest scheme, she picks up the phone and dials Uncle Sam directly.

Black Mystery Month: Steve is researching a paper for Black History Month when he catches wind of a conspiracy that has been playing out ever since the Civil War. Later the curator of the Smithsonian Peanut Museum is assassinated while trying to tell Steve the truth. Now the secret society behind the conspiracy is on to Steve and Stan, and they’re willing to take drastic measures in order to keep their secret safe.

An Apocalypse To Remember: Convinced that the apocalypse is at hand after arriving late for a CIA nuclear drill, Stan races back home to move his family into the mountains. Later, Stan realizes his mistake, but keeps the truth from his family because he likes the attention. But news travels as far as it does fast these days, and when the family runs into a mountain man the truth finally comes out.

When Stan Loves A Woman: Stan has discovered Francine’s secret sex garden, and now he’s convinced their marriage is on the rocks. Meanwhile, Francine has become convinced that the only way to save their marriage is to ask for a divorce. Perhaps if Stan remembers what it was like to be a bachelor he could better appreciate how good he truly has it. Out on the streets, Steve panhandles for spare change in order to support his new energy drink habit.

I Can’t Stan You: Stan realizes that eavesdropping can have serious consequences after bringing home a high-tech piece of CIA spy equipment and listening in on his neighbor’s conversations. Upon discovering that popular opinion of him is at an all time low, the vengeful snooper has the entire neighborhood evicted. Perhaps it’s going to take a visit from an old friend to set Stan straight.

Tearjerker: This episode of the animated sitcom American Dad finds the entire family suddenly transformed into characters from a James Bond-like spy spoof. Tearjerker (played by Roger) is a diabolical movie producer whose films possess the power to kill. If he can only lure enough celebrities to his spa – where he kills them and replaces them with look-a-like robots – he can finally make his dream film, “Oscar’s Gold.” If completed, “Oscar’s Gold” will cause viewers to cry until they eventually die. But Stan isn’t about to let the movie-going masses sob themselves to death, and he’s convinced he can stop Tearjerker before it’s too late.

Surro-gate: Francine has become a surrogate for her gay neighbors Terry and Greg – a development that pushes staunch Republican Stan right off the deep end. Though Stan plays it perfectly cool on the surface, the moment the baby is born he kidnaps her and races to the Nebraska border. Gay couples have no rights in Nebraska, so the baby should be safe there for the time being. Meanwhile, Steve and Roger become unreasonably paranoid that Klaus is coming for them.

Haylias: Hayley is determined to move to France, citing the fact that America has been overrun by imperialistic oppression. In order to keep his daughter on U.S. shores, Stan convinces Hayley that she was once brain washed by the CIA. Later, against the advice of Bullock, Stan gains complete control of Hayley by using her trigger word. But activating his daughter could have deadly repercussions should Stan delay in snapping Hayley out of her current trance. Meanwhile, Steve and Roger make the decision to become private eyes.

Dope & Faith: Stan is praying for a new pal when he makes a connection with an amiable atheist. Now subsequently convinced that he must convince the man that God exists, Stan makes his new friend’s life a living hell. Meanwhile, as the plan begins to backfire, Roger announces to Steve that he has been accepted to Hogwarts.

The Vacation Goo: Francine is enraged to discover that all of her vacation memories have been artificially created, and now she’s determined to hit the road for a real family getaway. While Francine indeed gets her wish for the vacation of a lifetime, she starts to have so much fun that she begins to suspect it’s just another ruse by the CIA. As Francine’s family is forced to bear the brunt of her paranoia, Roger makes it his mission to become a world-class actor.

Joint Custody: When Roger becomes a bounty hunter, he and Stan become locked into a cross-country dash to capture Jeff, who is currently wanted by police for smuggling marijuana into Florida.

The Magnificent Steven: Eddie Kaye Thomas, Curtis Armstrong, and Carnie Wilson lend their voices to this episode of American Dad that finds Stan being prosecuted for sending contaminated cattle to the slaughterhouse. So how did a stunt designed to make a man out of Steve suddenly turn into a courtroom conflict? Later, Roger manages to spark a feud between Francine and Hayley for reasons unknown.

Episode descriptions courtesy of All Movie Guide

The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and look great. The colors are bright and it’s obviously not meant to be the best or most realistic animation in the world, so it doesn’t try to be.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and make for some real fun times. The great part about Seth McFarlane is that he often adds subtle little things that you really need to pay attention to or you’ll miss. Some of those things happen to be off screen comments from other characters or softer hilarious comments while a lot is happening on screen. The surround sound really captures everything and lets you hear things you may have missed while watching the show in syndication.

Audio Commentaries – Not included on either episode on my screener disc, but are in the set that will be in stores.

Deleted Scenes – Like volume two, there are literally tons of deleted scenes included here. You may not be able to pick out exactly which episodes they go with, but they’re still damn funny.

Comic-Con Table Read – The entire cast gets together and does a full table read at the Comic-Con for the episode, the “42-Year Old Virgin.” Its great watching them read it out loud like this and do the voices of characters we only ever see in the animation world. Ok, and let me tell you that I’ve seen this episode before in syndication and it is fantastic, but it’s one hundred times funnier listening to and watching the talents actually do the voices.


You already know whether you’re going to pick up this set or not, so just go with your instinct. Fans of the series want it, and those who aren’t yet fans need to watch it. Start with volume one perhaps and move your way up, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it. American Dad! is not a watered-down version, nor is it a spin-off of Family Guy. It is its own entity and one that completely stands alone with some of the funniest characters, strangest storylines, and perhaps some of the best writing overall for an animated sitcom. Hell, you should buy this set for the live table read alone. That whole feature is priceless. Now stop being a weenie and get out there to buy this set or some other variation of American Dad! before Stan kills you. He’ll do it too.

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20th Century Fox presents American Dad!: Volume 3. Created by: Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker, and Matt Weitzman. Starring (voices): Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schaal, Rachael MacFarlane, Dee Bradley Baker, Scott Grimes, Mike Barker. Running time: 393 minutes on 3 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: April 15, 2008. Available at Amazon.com