DVD Review: American Dad!, Volume Two
Release Date: May 15, 2007
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
· Seth MacFarlane
· IMDb: American Dad
by R.J. Carter
Published: May 15, 2007
CIA Agent Smith Stan Smith (Seth MacFarlane) is as gung-ho patriotic as you can get. He salutes the flag. He's pro-gun. And he's got the strongest Republican chin this side of The Tick. Which makes him the poster child for parody of the modern American political climes. With his supermom wife, Francine (Wendy Schaal), by his side taking care of their two kids -- uber-nerd Steve (Scott Grimes) and peacenik doper Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), they may appear to be a normal (i.e. somewhat dysfunctional) family, unless you peer a bit beyond the veneer: Stan has guns hidden all over the house, the goldfish Klaus talks (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) -- oh, and there's an alcoholic homosexual alien named Roger living with them who crashed landed at Roswell sixty years ago. (Roger is also voiced by Seth MacFarlane, with a spot-on Paul Lynde impression.)
In the opening act of this volume (which continues the chronological presentation of the series, just not delineated by seasons), Stan tries to get closer to his daughter Hayley by taking her to a gun-themed amusement park, with fun things like Ted Nugent's "Kill 'n Grill" eat what you shoot café. Hayley's just not feeling it, though, and stages a protest. However, when a stunt to get Hayley to love guns results in Stan being paralyzed, her guilt drives her to do whatever he says -- including helping him become the national spokesperson for the National Gun Association, because he's living proof that guns work!
With "Star Trek", geek king Steve turns in a creative writing assignment about a clumsy alien named Roger that earns him a publication credit. But when only seven people turn out at the book signing (which is only slightly less painful than having nobody show up), Stan decides Steve needs a hook: so he sets him out to become the bad boy of child authors, skyrocketing the boy to stardom -- and a divorce from his parents.
Steve becomes the center of attention in a later episode as well, as Stan tries to help his boy escape the nerd herd and make good with the popular kids. As a last resort, Stan brings home some experimental steroids from the office, which end up with a weird side-effect: the drugs give Steve bosoms! Disturbingly, this makes him popular with the older guys, who just like looking at them. Meanwhile, Francine feels that she's not seen as accomplishing much in life, and goes offshore to get a 12-hour diploma in medicine. Not being accepted at a hospital, she winds up accidentally becoming the go-to doctor for the Handicapped Mafia. Episodes just don't get more wrong than "Helping Handis".
In "Failure is Not a Factory-Installed Option", master negotiator Stan is sent to a car dealership to buy Francine a Femmewagon, but comes home with the Phallus ES instead. He continually goes back to the dealership to set things straight, but continually loses out to the salesman until he's got a whole yard full of cars, a mountain of debt, and a complete loss of his self confidence, resulting in his boss (Patrick Stewart) suspending him without pay. Meanwhile, the car lot that was formerly the Smith's front yard becomes the place for Steve to become a man, when Roger moves into the attic with a movie projector and reels of "The Breakfast Club" and other 80s flicks, creating an impromptu drive-in.
My two personal favorites, however, are "Dungeons and Wagons" and "The Best Christmas Story Never". In the former, we see a wholly new style of animation used as we enter the online gaming world where Steve is revered as a god. However, when Hayley's ex-boyfriend becomes a player, the only way she can get him back from Steve is to enter the game herself -- and kill him. Meanwhile, to add excitement to their life, Stan takes up street racing to impress Francine (which leads her to express her pleasure in a hilarious remake of the Whitesnake video, "Here I Go Again".)
Finally, in the Christmas episode, Stan loses his appreciation for the season when he's overwhelmed with too much liberal "Happy Holiday" greetings and the removal of the Nativity from the local public park. The Ghost of Christmas Past (Lisa Kudrow) appears to take Stan back to the past so he can appreciate the holiday, but loses track of him as he decides his new mission to de-liberalize Christmas is to kill Jane Fonda! Along the way, he drops a disco cassette which a past-Roger finds, making him rich by picking out the hot disco bands before they get discovered. However, when Stan meets Martin Scorsese and convinces him to give up drugs, the famous director never does the cocaine that makes him whacked enough to make "Taxi Driver". This means he never casts Jodi Foster, John Hinkley never obsesses over her, doesn't shoot Ronald Reagan to impress her, and Reagan doesn't become empowered enough by surviving the assassination attempt to defeat Mondale! Two month's into Mondale's term, he hands the country over to the Soviet Union! There's only one way to put things right, even though it goes against everything Stan believes in: he has to go back in time and shoot Reagan himself!
And if you keep track of it, you may just find out the secret of the Golden Turd. (Insert secret sinister snicker here.)
The cool thing about this three-disc set is that there's absolutely no skimping on the bonuses. Each and every episode has a commentary track with the cast and crew, and some of them even have extra side-by-side scenes with the animatics compared to the finished animation. Plus, there are deleted scenes. Make that one hundred and nine deleted scenes! These are finished artwork, too -- so why not incorporate them into the episodes?
There are two featurettes: "An American Dad Like No Other" is a look at the thought processes behind "Dungeons and Wagons", and the actors discuss their favorite scenes of the series. For the artistically inclined, there's a seven-minute lesson on how to draw Roger the alien.
At turns hilarious and painful, MacFarlane and company show no mercy as they swing for the fences at everything patriots hold near and dear. Sharp-eared (no, I don't know what that quite means) viewers will catch the guest voice talents of Azura Skye, Elijah Wood, Jennie Garth, and a horde of others.
Audio is in English 5.1 Dolby Surround, with subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Previews on this set include Family Guy, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and American Dad!
01. Stannie Get Your Gun
- commentary with John Aoshima, Mike Barker, Brian Boyle, Nahnatchka Khan, and Matt Weitzman
02. Star Trek
- commentary with Mike Barker, Shawn Ian Kerkhoff, Chris McKenna, Matt McKenna & Matt Weitzman
03. Not Particularly Desperate Housewives
- commentary with Mike Barker, Chris McKenna, Dan Vebber, Matt Weitzman & Brent Woods
04. Rough Trade
- commentary with Mike Barker, Pam Cooke, Seth MacFarlane, Matt Weitzman, and David Zuckerman
05. Finances With Wolves
- commentary with Mike Barker, Albert Calleros, Nahnatchka Khan, Kenny Schwartz and Matt Weitzman
06. It's Good to be the Queen
- commentary with Mike Barker, Rodney Clouden, Liane Siegel Shattuck, Russell Rothberg and Matt Weitzman
07. Roger 'n Me
- commentary with Mike Barker, Seth MacFarlane, Rick Wiener and Matt Weitzman
08. Helping Handis
- commentary with Mike Barker, Steve Hely, Nahnatchka Khan, Caleb Meurer and Matt Weitzman
09. With Friends Like Steve's
- commentary with John Aoshima, Mike Barker, Erik Durbin, Dan Vebber and Matt Weitzman
10. Tears of a Clooney
- commentary with commentary by Mike Barker, Chris McKenna, Matt McKenna, Matt Weitzman and Brent Woods; additional special feature: multi-angle animatic scene
11. Camp Refoogee
- commentary with Mike Barker, Albert Calleros, Jonathan Fener, Seth MacFarlane and Matt Weitzman
12. The American Dad After School Special
- commentary with Mike Barker, Pam Cooke, Dan Vebber, Matt Weitzman and David Zuckerman
13. Failure is Not a Factory-Installed Option
- commentary with Dave Bastian, Rodney Clouden, Jim Feeley, Ron Hughart and Brent Woods
14. Lincoln Lover
- commentary with Mike Barker, Nahnatchka Khan, Kenny Schwartz, Rick Wiener and Brent Woods
15. Dungeons and wagons
- commentary with Jim Feeley, Anthony Lioi, Caleb Meurer, Micky Rose and Jansen Yee; additional special feature: multi-angle scene
16. Iced, Iced Babies
- commentary with Mike Barker, Steve Hely, Caleb Meurer, Matt Weitzman and Rick Wiener
17. Of Ice and Men
- commentary with John Aoshima, Mike Barker, brian Boyle, Erik Durbin, Kara Vallow and Matt Weitzman
18. Irregarding Steve
- commentary with Mike Barker, Travis Bowe, Pam Cooke, Chris McKenna and Matt McKenna; additional special feature: multi-angle scenee
19. The Best Christmas Story Never
- commentary with Mike Barker, Brian Boyle, Steve Hely, Matt Weitzman and David Zuckerman
"An American Dad Like No Other" (11:35)
Favorite Scenes (11:30)
Drawing Roger (7:11)
Deleted Scenes (109 clips)