Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Inexplicable TV Review: American Dad, somehow the best MacFarlane project

The Smith family.

I’ve always had a soft spot for American Dad, the animated show that was Seth MacFarlane’s first sort of spin-off after the (eventual) success of Family Guy. But while I loved the initial pilot episode, with the world’s oldest dog, it sometimes slips from my attention, and then I scramble to catch up on episodes.

Unlike Family Guy, which has gotten more disgusting as its gone on, American Dad has mostly stayed at the same “ew” factor. Yes, there are lowlights, like when Roger decides he has to go live in the South to become a real country singer. But for the most part, the show stays focused on the Smith family’s exploits in the D.C. area.

It’s interesting how the two shows have developed. Family Guy is almost nihilistic in its pursuit of gags and jokes. There’s little continuity from episode to episode, and things just get more crude and “shocking” as time goes on.

The problem I’m alluding to from the quote usage there is that because you know the show is going to go for the most horrible thing, it’s seldom surprising when they actually do it. Family Guy has also shifted away from the experimental vibe it has a few years ago, when it was doing bottle episodes and murder mysteries. (By the way, it makes me feel old that I’ve been writing about this show on-and-off for six god damn years. Holy hell.)

American Dad has essentially slotted into the role that The Cleveland Show used to take, a show that I liked. There is just a bit more of a focus on character development vs. gross-out gags. It probably helps that American Dad is now on TBS, which cares a little bit less about ratings than a traditional broadcast network like FOX.

One trait from Family Guy that is still used strongly on American Dad though – unusual voice acting choices. You wouldn’t expect Patrick Stewart to be on this show, but he’s always great as CIA director Bullock, and they get him to say some ridiculous things. Then again, he was also great on Extras.

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