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Featured TV on DVD Review: American Dad!: Volume Six

April 18th, 2011

American Dad!: Volume Six - Buy from Amazon

American Dad!: Volume Six is the complete fifth season of the show. Why is season five called volume six? I swear they do these things just to annoy anal retentive critics. After reviewing Volume Five last year, how does this three-disc set compare.

For those that need a brief recap of the show, Seth McFarlane provides the voice for Stan Smith, a C.I.A. Agent of dubious skill. He's married to Francine, who is a bit of a ditz. Their two kids are Hayley (voiced by Rachael MacFarlane, sister of Seth) and Steve. The elder daughter is socially conscience and therefore disapproves what her father does for a living. The younger son is nerdy and therefore his father disapproves of him. There are two other members of the family that are less conventional. There's Roger, an alien the family is hiding in the attic and who has been mooching off the Smiths for years. Then there's Klaus, a goldfish who talks with a German accent because he's the brain of a German Olympian stuck in the body of a goldfish.

The season starts off on a rather average note with none of the episodes on the first disc really rising to the level of classic. In Country...Club focuses on Stan trying to get Steve to understand the true meaning of the American National Anthem so he can sing it well. Stan takes him to a Vietnam War reenactment and a series of spoofs follow. It's a good episode, but while watching it I couldn't help but think of Duckman and the episode In the Nam of the Father, which used many of the same jokes. Stan is looking for a promotion in Moon Over Isla Island, but when he accidentally kills the general he's supposed to be negotiating with, he has to get Roger to take his place. Steve is given the responsibility of staying home in Home Adrone, but ends up abusing that trust when he and his friends mistakenly take a military drone. Meanwhile, the rest of the family is stuck on an airplane waiting for it to take-off. The two stories are only tangentially related, but both work and it's one of the better episodes on this three-disc set. In Brains, Brains and Automobiles, Stan has to travel into Roger's subconscious to save him from a coma. Exploring Roger's subconscious could have been really interesting, but it was a missed opportunity. Stan tries to relive his childhood in Man in the Moonbounce, but winds up in prison. While in Shallow Vows, Francine learns Stan only married her for her looks, so she really lets herself go to see if he truly loves her. In response, Stan has his corneas removed. Unfortunately, the last two episodes are a little weak.

My Morning Straitjacket has Stan becoming obsessed with Hayley's favorite band and in his need to see the lead singer, he has to turn to Francine's old groupie skills. Hayley decides she doesn't need to listen to her father's advice in G-String Circus, which leads Stan to look for a new daughter, and finds one in Tanqueray, a stripper. Rapture's Delight is the Christmas episode for the season, and as the title suggests, the Rapture happens, but Stan, Francine, and Roger are left behind. This puts a strain on their relationship, so Francine leaves Stan and starts dating Jesus. Two strong episodes in a row. Unfortunately, Don't Look a Smith Horse in the Mouth is a letdown. Just about every joke involving Roger felt repetitive, which is something that has become a real issue by this point in the show's run. Stan starts out attacking everything liberal in A Jones for a Smith, but after accidentally becoming addicted to crack, he realizes he needs to ask for help. The episode might have been more amusing if it were a little more subtle. In May the Best Stan Win, a cyborg Stan from the future travels to modern day to help him train for the machine uprising. His timing couldn't be worse, as it is nearly Valentine's Day and Stan hasn't been paying attention to Francine enough as it is.

In Return of the Bling, Stan and Roger go to the 1980 Olympic Hockey reunion to prove that Roger was part of the team. Stan starts to worship him as a hero, until he learns the horrible truth. There are some good parody bits here, but it doesn't quite live up to its potential. Francine is mugged in Cops & Roger and instead of helping, Roger just runs away. To make up for this, Roger joins the Police Academy. Have I mentioned how much Roger is starting to bug me? Merlot Down Dirty Shame has Francine and Roger going on a wine tasting tour; however, the pair get so drunk, they make out. It's one of the better Roger-centric episodes this season. Steve is being bullied in Bully for Steve by Stan. Yep, his father is bullying him in an attempt to make him a man. The Smiths are invited to a pool party in An Incident at Owl Creek, and Stan in determined to not let his family be an embarrassment. Given how adamant he is, it comes as no surprise when he's the one who embarrasses himself. It's Roger's birthday in Great Space Roaster and Roger insists they hold a Celebrity Roast for him. But when they insult him, he decides to get revenge by killing them all. It's arguably the best episode of the final disc, but since only this one and Merlot Down Dirty Shame are above average, that's not saying a whole lot.

Hits this volume are limited to Home Adrone, G-String Circus, Rapture's Delight, Merlot Down Dirty Shame, and The Great Space Roaster, with In Country...Club, Brains, Brains & Automobiles, and Return of the Bling being quality hits. The rest are average, or weaker. That's not quite as good as seasons past, but it's not terrible either, as there are more true hits than true misses. However, there are a lot that are merely average.

The Extras

There are audio commentary tracks for seven episodes, some of which have more than one track. but you have to go to the individual episode menus to find them, and not the special features menu, which is where they should be. There are also deleted scenes for most episodes, which can be found on both the extras menu and the episode menu. Disc two has a ten-minute making of featurette on Rapture's Delight, which is arguably the best episode of the season. Certainly it is the most unique in its style. The final disc has a 3-minute montage of animal abuse that has taken place over the years.

The Verdict

The hit to miss ratio for American Dad!: Volume Six is a little off with too many average or weaker episodes for an enthusiastic recommendation. If you are a fan of the show and have bought the previous five volumes and have been happy, then this one is worth picking up as well. On the other hand, there are signs that the show is rapidly running out of steam.

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