American Dad! – Season 5 Review

Ok, so here’s the deal, in 5 sentences or less (probably less) – Each week I’ll review a single show’s past season, marking my personal highs and lows and any other note-worthy things. I swear NEVER to refer to anything out of film school. There will be no mention of editing, camera work, directing or any of those things. I will attempt to keep these reviews as fun as humanly possible, as my entire mission is to write them as if I were just a regular Joe (which I am). I am a fan of these shows first (some more so than others, but that won’t affect me, I promise), and only as a distant second I write about them. I love TV, I watch a LOT of it (most people would say too much) and I will treat each week and every review with the same mindset – to make you, the readers (yes! all 3 of you!), want to watch the show if you haven’t yet, and ff you have seen it, maybe give you some food for thought.

So here’s the first show up for review – American Dad!

There’s a serious problem in writing about most cartoon shows, and most 30 minute comedies for that matter : there’s very little in the way of repeated story-telling, character development, plot arcs and other things that make 1 hour shows tick. Each episode is a 22 minute ride, some better than others, but they have a clear beginning, middle and end. So how on earth do you write a season review on 20 something different episodes and try to pack them in as a single blob (I was going to write entity, but that word always sounded to artsy for my liking)?

Simple – you don’t! There’s no way you can do it, so what I’ll do instead is give a few thoughts about the general directions of the show and some thoughts about some characters.

Let’s start with an important statement: I am not a Seth McFarlane fan, and to make matters worse – I do not enjoy Family Guy a hell of a lot (other than the Star Wars episodes and the one were Stewie attempted to kill Louis).

OK, that was a hard admission. Now that we’re past it; I hope that my 3 loyal readers (not counting my mom of course) have remained (Thanks guys! Your gift mugs are in the mail) and continue to read on.

American Dad! to me is all that Family Guy isn’t – it’s as if Seth McFarlane is using half a brain for each show, one half in which he writes jokes most humans can wrap their heads around, and one in which he writes Family Guy (I have not seen the Cleveland Show so I’ve got no clue which part of the brain it came from). American Dad!, in general, has faster jokes, a lot more physical humour (most of which is courtesy of Roger) and a HELL of a lot less dead pan, stare-you-in-the-face, scratch your head, “HUH?” type jokes, which Family Guy is famous for. While it has a pretty set format, they manage to stick enough jokes in it to turn those 22 minutes into a lot of fun.

Roger:  Seriously, How can you not laugh at an old, alcoholic, costume wearing, puking from over eating musical theatre fan that just happens to be a pear shaped alien? The thing about Roger is that 5 seasons in, and we’re still waiting to see if he has anything resembling a moral compass, so far, it has yet to be found, which is what sets him apart for the other “hero” of the show – Stan. Roger’s willingness to go lower than humanly (or alienly) thought possible just to get his wish is probably the center of more episodes than I can remember. Personal Highlight for the season – The episode were Roger wants a Roast for his birthday gift, gets what he wants, only to go nuts after it.

Stan: Roger’s opposite in more ways than I realised until I started writing these very lines. Stan, more often than not, would get in trouble just because he’s trying to do something good (granted, in most cases that benefits him more than others, but still), have that something blow up in his face, and spend the rest of the episode trying to correct his mistake (with Francine usually screaming at him). He is, at heart a romantic, gentle caring giant, with some serious problems in expressing said emotions, but unlike Roger he means well. Personal highlight for the season – The “my morning jacket” episode, I was seriously laughing at that one, and I don’t even know the band. Who among hasn’t had an older relative suddenly take a liking to something that’s suitable for someone 30 (or more) years younger? It’s embarrassing, right? So as American Dad! does, they took that one to the MAX.

Steve – I for one would love more Steve episodes than we saw this past season, because that would mean seeing more of his merry band of misfits (fat kid, Jewish kid and foreign kid) with Steve as their leader. But I would not mind seeing Hoshii replaced because frankly, the “Japanese kid saying something his friends don’t understand only to have someone else say ‘that’s right’ shtick” has run itself so far down into the ground that Hoshii can use the tunnel to go back home to China (or wherever he’s supposed to be from).

As for Francine and Haley, well, in most episodes they’re just kind of “there” but they’re hardly as funny as the other characters, even more so in Hayley’s case.

Here’s what I don’t want more of – Enough with that stupid Kuala bear already!!!  If I wanted Family Guy moments I’d watch Family Guy, wouldn’t I? He wasn’t funny the first time he showed up, he still isn’t.

Why should you watch next year? Because I got the sense that they’re settling into a nice groove of good episodes, and I see no reason for it to stop, or if it does, I might start hating Family Guy more than I do now!!

Till next week