Monday, June 9, 2008

TBG's 2007-08 TV Report Card: American Dad

Grade: B-

Thoughts: Count me among the legions who wonder how good this show could be if Seth MacFarlane or FOX would just kill off Family Guy, already.

The biggest change in the third season of American Dad was the elevation of the alien "Roger" to full-fledged co-star status. In this year's strike-shortened 16 episode run, he was often featured prominently in the lead story, as all the "alien hiding in the attic" pretenses from the first two seasons went out the window. Roger's hare-brained schemes and bad wigs often led to the best dialogue in any given week, so it's easy to overlook the suspension of disbelief required (even for a cartoon) to accept a gray, noseless effeminate eggplant walking among us.

Consequently, the secondary characters became increasingly superfluous as the season wore on. Sure, Klaus the Nazi Fish and oldest daughter Hayley have always been worthless, but Hayley's brother Steve was always good for an endearing depiction of geek life. Now, it seems his only appearances these days are devoted to his attempts to touch a girl's boob. Somewhere, Eugene Levy's legal representation is preparing a cease-and-desist letter on the grounds of gimmick infringement.

The lead character "Stan" remains the broadly-drawn caricature of right-wing America. Whatever few subtleties he was once written with died a long time ago. His blowhard persona actually plays well in the context of his family, but not so much when the story veers back to its CIA/War on Terror lampooning roots.

Season's Best Episode: "Tearjerker"…I've never been a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, but this satirical take fit perfectly with the already-established bent of the characters. The diabolical "Oscar Gold" plot was ham-handed enough to work for more than just the movie snobs and the obligatory Bond opening sequence had a terrific payoff ("Wait, you're a gun?!")

Season's Worst Episode: "42-Year-Old Virgin"…The lead story was OK. Stan reveals that he's never killed a man and, in a nod to the movie of almost the same name, he sets off to pop his homicidal cherry. The back-up story, however, was an insanely creepy tale about a pedophile setting his sights on Steve and his friends with hilarity, ostensibly, ensuing. Family Guy has a recurring character that appears for a perverted one-off molestation joke, but devoting an entire sequence to the subject isn't really funny.

(And, on an unrelated note, those televised trailers for M. Night Shyamalan 's The Happening really shouldn't be airing when four-year-olds are awake. Just one more reason for me to hate that guy and ALL his movies. Yes, even The Sixth Sense…but, especially Unbreakable. And, Signs, too.)

In or Out for Next Season: In. I'm ditching one of the other Sunday night "Animation Domination" shows for good next season, so I'll keep this one around to fill my cartoon quota.

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