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American Dad! Volume 9

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    John Gargo
    Senior Member

  • American Dad! Volume 9



    Released by: Fox
    Released on: July 1st, 2014.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schaal, Scott Grimes, Rachael MacFarlane, Dee Bradley Baker
    Year: 2013
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:


    When AMERICAN DAD! made its debut on Fox back in 2005, the show played like a more politicized version of Seth MacFarlane's cult-hit FAMILY GUY. Instead of laughing at the misadventures of Peter Griffin, the perennially clueless patriarch of FAMILY GUY, audiences were encouraged to laugh at CIA agent and family man Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane), the extreme manifestation of a Conservative Republican in the Bush/Cheney era. It is telling that the creators of the show (MacFarlane, Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman) made Stan's daughter, Hayley, a cliché-spouting hippy; the two would routinely trade-off partisan jabs at each other, an effective dramatization of the polarizing times that spawned the show. And yet there was the inevitable feeling that MacFarlane was simply rehashing past ideas; instead of a talking dog, there is a talking fish and instead of a talking baby we have a baby-like alien.

    Fast forward almost a decade later to the release of AMERICAN DAD! VOLUME 9 on DVD and it becomes obvious that this show is no mere lazy rehashing of past successes. The key to AMERICAN DAD!'s longevity is the way that it has developed into its own distinct entity. For one thing, MacFarlane is on the creative sidelines of this project and, as such, the show does not resemble FAMILY GUY at all. Whereas FAMILY GUY is defined by its tendency to cut away from the narrative with almost free-associative “clips,” AMERICAN DAD! has a tendency to develop its plots and ground the humor in the situations that arise along the way. It must be said that the show has also slowly blunted its satirical bent throughout the years.

    As is the case with any show that's been on the air for almost a decade, there is a tendency to place these characters through vaguely familiar scenarios. Thus Stan Smith's prudishness is put to the test in the episode “The Missing Kink,” wherein his wife Francine accidentally discovers that spanking turns her on. In another episode, “Adventures in Hayleysitting,” Stan and Francine begrudgingly allow their irresponsible daughter Hayley to babysit her younger brother Steve; chaos ensues. These are stories that you've seen before; some of the jokes deliver and, inevitably, some of them fall flat.

    The show is at its best when the creators abandon these tried-and-true formulas in favor of outlandish one-offs. One episode in particular is “Blood Crieth unto Heaven,” a clever parody of Tracy Lett's play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. The show is introduced by Patrick Stewart (he has a recurring role throughout the show as CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock), who gives a loopy story about discovering a bundle of “lost” AMERICAN DAD! plays written for the stage and what follows is the titular work, the only script he “did not eat out of jealousy.” The remainder of the episode features the characters of the show acting out the overtly melodramatic play, complete with clumsy stage-effects.

    The show's co-creators penned the last two episodes and they're both excellent, notably lacking the hit-and-miss nature of some of the season's earlier and lesser episodes. Mike Barker wrote “Lost in Space,” a witty narrative where Jeff Fischer, Hayley's stoner husband, finds himself in a shopping mall-like space station where abductees must slave away in service jobs for the benefit of their alien masters. Jeff Fischer must prove his love for his wife or he will have his genitals surgically removed. The episode features comedian Sinbad as the only other abducted human on the space station. In many ways, not least of which is its setting, “Lost in Space” resembles an episode of Matt Groening's underrated FUTURAMA.

    Matt Weitzman's “Da Flippity Flop” is the season finale and it concludes VOLUME 9 in style. The episode is the only one to emphasize Klaus Heissler, a former East German skier whose mind has been transported to the body of a goldfish by the CIA (allegedly to prevent him from winning a medal during the 1986 Olympic Games). The action around this episode (too convoluted to go over in great detail) involves Klaus and Stan using the aforementioned CIA-technology to “swap bodies” with each other. Throughout most of the show, Klaus' character was relegated to sarcastic asides, and it's nice to see him take the center stage for this episode.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    AMERICAN DAD! VOLUME 9 comes to DVD via Twentieth Century Fox and although the episodes are uncensored the series has gone the way of MOD; the season's 19 episodes are spread throughout three DVD-Rs. The video is presented in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and the standard definition image looks good, if unspectacular, throughout. I did detect some sustained shakiness on the edges of the frame throughout the entirety of the episode entitled “The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock by the Coward Stan Smith.” This issue aside, there are no other errors to report.

    The only audio option of Fox's DVDs is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The sound comes out clear throughout, with good separation between the dialogue and the music. Like all MacFarlane product, AMERICAN DAD! is a show that occasionally features musical numbers and they all sound good even when the songs themselves are rather lame (roughly every other tune falls flat in my estimation). There are no subtitles.

    Unfortunately there are no extras on this set.

    The Final Word:

    I would imagine that by VOLUME 9 most people have already decided whether or not they're on board with this show. The episodes here run the gamut from tried-and-true sitcom-isms to surreal flights of fancy. Politics have been edged out by overt wackiness, to scattershot effect. Fans of the show will be disappointed by Fox's slapdash treatment; not only are these MOD discs but there are no extras.






























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