American Dad! is Seth MacFarlane’s funniest show, at least nowadays. Perhaps that’s because Dad, Stan (voiced by MacFarlane), has grown over the years, doesn’t always have to play the moron. Or it could be that the show’s CIA work setting allows the writers to stretch their political satire muscles. Maybe it’s the presence of the space alien, Roger (also MacFarlane), who gets to observe us humans from the (literal) beyond. The list goes on, from sarcastic goldfish Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) to Patrick Stewart voicing Stan’s wild boss. Whatever the reason, American Dad! is pretty consistently funny. And now season nine is available on DVD from Fox Home Video as American Dad! Volume 9. Why it’s taken so long for the 2012-2013 season to be released, I’m not sure, but at least it’s here now!
The best of season nine can be found in the classic episodes like “Love, American Dad Style,” finds Roger crushing on Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), something quite unexpected. And in “American Stepdad,” Roger falls for, and marries, Stan’s mother, therefore becoming his landlord’s new daddy. Also in that installment, Steve (Scott Grimes) finds a Fast and the Furious sequel script that blows the lid off the film series.
“Blood Crieth Unto Heaven” is a parody of August: Osage County, and “For Black Eyes Only” is a James Bond knock off, an appropriate movie series for this show to tackle. “Naked to the Limit, One More Time” has Jeff (Jeff Fischer) blabbing about the alien living with the Smiths, forcing Roger to consider killing him, and actually kicks off an arc only recently completed (maybe?) in season ten.
“Lost in Space” is part of that arc, taking place entirely with Jeff on a space station. Unfortunately Jeff’s journey into space is a little disappointing because it means we see the character a lot less. But thankfully American Dad! keeps to continuity, and does check in on him from time to time, as it also deals with Hayley’s separation from her husband. Part of me wishes Jeff would come back and rejoin the ensemble, but a bigger part is just happy to see such a drawn-out story on what is ostensibly a simple cartoon series.
There are also some pretty familiar plots. In “Can I Be Frank With You,” Stan and Francine’s (Wendy Scaal) relationship is tested when he spends too much time hanging out with his work buddies. “Adventures in Hayleysitting” finds Hayley babysitting her brother, Steve, and of course she’s irresponsible and things go wrong. “Finger Lenting Good” has the family trying to give up their vices and gives Roger a Cinderella story. “Spelling Bee Baby” has Francine pushing Steve into a spelling bee. In “The Boring Identity,” Francine takes advantage of Stan’s lost memories. In “Da Flippity Flop,” Stan and Klaus switch bodies. But even these tired premises are still amusing episodes, as they maintain the style and tone that works so well on a weekly basis.
In my opinion, the weakest stuff is usually when Steve is hanging out with his friends. I just don’t like those characters, and while occasionally they may get into 80s movie-inspired stories, which is the best use of them, most of the time they are just gross and sad. Ditching them would improve the overall production greatly.
As with the other Fox releases I’ve covered this week, American Dad! – Volume 9 has no special features. This is frustrating and feels a bit like a rip off. But the choice is either deal with it or skip the set, and being a long-time fan of the show, the former is the slightly more appealing choice.
American Dad! – Volume 9 is available now.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00LFW6BA0,B00BYNL8DU,B000E6ES9O]