Fourteen episodes of the Fox series about a conservative CIA agent and his family. Bonuses: commentaries, deleted scenes, uncensored audio, featurette, Comic-Con footage.
If Family Guy could spoof Star Wars with the epic Blue Harvest episode, then it's only fitting that American Dad take on the espionage world of Agent 007. In "Tearjerker," a season 3 benchmark that kicks off this three-disc set, Stan Smith (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) portrays secret agent Stan Smith, with the other characters taking on Bondian persona. Dutiful wife Francine (Wendy Schaal) is transformed into the femme fatale Sexpun T'Come, and alien Roger (MacFarlane) portrays arch villain Tearjerker, a failed actor with a diabolical scheme to make the saddest movie in the world that will make all who see it cry themselves to death. At one point, Stan meets his superior, B (a game Patrick Stewart), in Japan. When Stan asks why they must be dressed as geishas, B replies, "Because I thought we could be secret Asians." Which just goes to show that American Dad will go any distance for a gag. And we mean that literally. In the episode, "Pulling Double Booty," Stan and Francine's rebellious peacenik daughter (Rachael MacFarlane) gets hot and heavy with Stan's CIA body double, which elicits a projectile reaction from Francine. "Oedipal Panties" is another cringe-worthy episode in which we discover the lengths to which Stan will go to keep his mother to himself.
There are a couple of milestones among these 14 episodes from seasons 3 and 4. "1600 Candles" marks Roger's 1,600th birthday, while "Oedipal Panties" is interrupted to celebrate the series' 1,000th vagina joke. By this point, we should be past Family Guy comparisons. Both series are a riot of obscure pop-culture references, gratuitous celebrity potshots, and meta asides (in "Widowmaker," Francine ponders making a "gag me with a spoon" joke, "but then I thought, 'Who's that for?'"). But at least when Stan goes to absurd extremes, it is more in keeping with his overzealous, xenophobic character. The writing takes some rewarding chances as it careens wildly from the smart to the sophomoric. The holiday episode, "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever," contains an Auschwitz joke that is actually kinda funny, even as one cringes at the "oh, no they didn't"-ness of it. As with previous volumes, this set contains bountiful extras, including deleted scenes, audio commentaries for every episode, a featurette on the making of "Tearjerker," and, best of all, a live ComiCon table read of the first act of "Pulling Double Booty." American Dad, we salute you. --Donald Liebenson
Stills from American Dad!, Vol. 4 (Click for larger image)