Over the past four years, “American Dad” has been a staple in Fox programming. Some would even be bold enough to say that the show is better written than the channel’s mega hit “Family Guy.” While that argument will be one that goes on forever, only a small group would ever say that “American Dad” isn’t a hilarious animated sitcom.
Collecting 14 episodes from season three and four, “American Dad: Vol. Four” on DVD isn’t the best offering of the series, but it’s still one that long-time fans will enjoy.
Episodes like “Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold” are a tribute to the first few seasons of the show when the humor was mainly politically-based. Seeing this episode is living proof that the series can still make you laugh the way it intended to when it first began. Other episodes like “Red October Sky” and “Widow Maker” do a great job of putting Stan in the middle of things and having the family react and chime in, making for great comedy.
Overall, it’s the winning formula you’ve come to expect if you’ve watched the first two and a half seasons of the show.
If more episodes were along these lines, then perhaps veteran fans would find the collection more enticing. Regardless, the show still shines plenty bright enough to be successful.
It’s just a different kind of bright, almost like switching from a standard light bulb to a liberal approved energy saver. Both get the job done, just in different ways.
For the most part, this collection focuses heavily on the other characters on the show and not so much on Stan as it has in seasons past. Here, we see Haley deal with her problems with rage, Steve with puberty [in one of the funniest moments in the show’s history] and Francine with her husband’s inability to open up. These are all great moments, but it makes it feel like the series has taken a step in another direction. Sure, it’s funny, but where is the political satire that made so many fans of the show in the first place?
Other developments in the collection include Roger’s problems with his credit card and his attempt to throw a Spring Break party at the Smith’s home. While the developments with the rest of the family during this DVD place more focus on them than the rest of the show, Roger has always been on his worst behavior throughout, making his adventures here fit right into place. It is more often than not that Roger serves as a catalyst for Stan as well, getting him to do things that the hardcore conservative would never do by himself. Seeing Stan with a Spring Break “buddy” in addition to several of the other predicaments they find themselves in makes the show what it is.
Combining these new elements of the show, with what has consistently worked over the years for “American Dad” produces a collection that in spite of being solid, feels a bit different than it used to. Again, it’s still funny, but it’s not exactly what you’d expect from the show. Dedicated fans may be a bit disappointed, feeling that the show is trying to be more like “Family Guy,” but will still get their fix. Casual fans however will find it smart enough to get their attention and funny enough to keep it.