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Reviews: "American Dad Vol. 7" Waves A Different Flag Than Expected

Good morning, USA! Hyper-patriotic Stan Smith has returned with his family for another volume of this Seth MacFarlane comedy, but as time goes on, Stan’s family grows. His daughter Hayley has gotten married, his son Steve gets a clone, Roger marries a redneck (and dates Steve’s friend Snot), and Francine rejoins the workforce … at the CIA. Also, Klaus is around.

It’s surprising that American Dad has lasted this long, in the shadow of its older brother, Family Guy. Does the series deserve to break out on its own, or will it forever wallow in the wings?

It’s been a while since I had regularly watched American Dad! For some, the progression may have been subtle over the seasons, but for me, skipping from early to late in the game, the show’s focal shift is definitely of note. Early seasons seemed to be focused on Stan’s CIA work (and American politics and such), but it has somewhat abandoned this area as the series has moved on. In fact, only a few episodes in this set actually focus on Stan being part of the CIA, and more on Homer-esque abandonments for new ventures.

With the show initially a revival of All In The Family at the beginning, especially in the relationship between Stan and his daughter, it’s only proper that the series return to this notion and have Hayley and her new husband move into the house to provide more dramatic humor. It’s an odd running point throughout the season, but it’s a pleasant one. The series grows, changing up the plot and offering a few threads that’ll last more than one episode; it may ruin the episode-by-episode nature of the series, but it takes it beyond just laughs, which may be against nature, but is good for its quality.

The episodes have their hits and misses; like any Seth MacFarlane production, it’s hard to say every episode is perfect or horrifying. The series does manage to be above average, and while it doesn’t rely on such simple cutaway gags and musicals as much as Family Guy has, nor on racial or cultural humor as much as The Cleveland Show, it has somewhat shed much of the political humor that defined the earlier episodes. In growing, it has left the niche it initially carved; the evolution into something like All In The Family has worked out well, but there’s some red, white, and blue jokes abandoned due to it.

The extras in this set are comparatively light, but appreciated. A featurette, “I Heart Patrick Stewart,” shows the production crew’s love for their voice actor. A half-dozen or so commentaries get to have fun with the series (and reveal a few insights); deleted scenes throughout the set show alternate takes or lost footage; and American Dad! at Comic Con 2010 is a short bit of their panel. It’s a solid set of bonus features to be sure, but what’s to be expected from a mainstream animation series on primetime Fox?

Does American Dad volume 7 warrant a flag wave? It’s worth checking out if you’ve not kept up with the franchise, and if you have, you should know if you like the way the series has gone. It’s a solid set, and you know ahead of time if it will end up on your shelf or not.

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