"American Dad!" (2005)
USA / English
"From the creator of "Family Guy" comes a man who will stop at nothing to protect his country.
"The random escapades of Stan Smith, an extreme right wing CIA agent dealing with family life and keeping America safe, all in the most absurdist way possible.
Sporadically hilarious but has too many misses in there to hold a wider audience
Stan Smith is a CIA agent and holds the love of his glorious county
above all else. He lives an All-American family life too, with a good
white wife and his two children. Unfortunately for him his son is not
the sporty American teenager he would like and his daughter is so left
wing that he doubts her genetic makeup. Add to this an alien that he
rescued from Area 51 and a goldfish with the brain of a German
scientist and you have a tumultuous household.
Watching the first episode of this new series I must admit my first
thoughts were why I needed a slightly different approach to a humour
that was done well enough in Family Guy. However a few episodes in and
the show began to settle into its own routine and feel. The CIA aspect
and the rightwing mocking Stan essentially sets the tone of the series
and many of the episodes have either his job or his politics as their
focal points. Although this does provide MacFarlane with the targets he
wants, it also limits the scope of the series and prevents it wandering
too far. Eventually it will have to if it wants to survive and then I
worry that the changes will be of necessity and not work as well.
Anyway, for the first series it seems to have just about worked well
enough to provide enough narrative to keep it moving, the question is
whether it is funny enough.
Although hardly narrative or character driven, AD is more of a
straightforward affair than FG, with the latter's "like that time I
moments providing plenty of sudden humour. AD still has good lines and
uses the support characters well to provide more off-the-wall moments
but it can't get consistency down well. At times I'm laughing out loud,
only for a few scenes later to be cringing in embarrassment as the
misfires come in fast. It will appeal to those on the left with this
style of humour but it is still an acquired taste and is unlikely to
get as big a fanbase as Family Guy managed. The political right are
correct to dislike it as, despite claims of Hayley providing mockery
balance, it is very clear what MacFarlane thinks. As a non-American I'm
totally fine with this because the right deserves all it gets, but
again it does limit the scope of the humour slightly.
The cast are characters are OK without being great. Stan does what he
is supposed to do (mock the political right) and is well delivered by
MacFarlane. Francine is a bit washy and again highlights that
MacFarlane seems to have problems with his female characters; Schaal
does OK with it but rarely stands out. Grimes' Steve is enjoyable
enough while MacFarlane's Hayley is actually a better character than I
expected. As with Stewie though, the best lines are stolen by Roger and
Klaus. Like the former, these two exist within their own world in each
episode and can be relied on to produce the laughs. At first neither
won me over as they just reminded me how good Stewie was but gradually
both have cut their own rut. Roger is consistently funny and Klaus is
sparingly used but used well.
Overall this is not a fantastic show but it lines up easy targets and
knocks them down pretty well at the cost of being limited in scope. At
times it is hilarious but there are also a lot of misses knocking
around; it is the nature of the beast I suppose but it is still a
problem. Worth seeing for Family Guy fans definitely but unlikely to
have the wider appeal to grow as a series.