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American Dad! - Volume One


TITLE: AMERICAN DAD! - VOLUME ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: April 25, 2006 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Color
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: approx. 284 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: approximately 150 minutes (plus commentaries)
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English, Spanish, and French Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: Commentaries on 12 episodes; "All in the Family: Creating American Dad!" featurette; "Secrets of the Glass Booth: Behind The Voices of American Dad!" featurette; "American Animatics" featurette; Deleted Scenes from all 13 episodes; "The New CIA" promo; 2005 Super Bowl Pre-Game Promo; Animatics and Table Read for "Threat Levels"


Introduction:

By now, everybody knows the story about Family Guy, about how it was canceled and brought back years later. In between the cancellation and subsequent reprisal, creator Seth MacFarlane, having nothing better to do (and assuming Family Guy was totally dead by then) decided to create another show: American Dad!, and now, the first 13 episodes are on DVD.

Ever wonder what All in the Family would be like if it took place in the modern world? That is kind of what American Dad! is. Seth MacFarlane, who clearly enjoys doing the voices of the main character and others in every show that he creates, plays the voice of Stan Smith, a pro-George W. Bush CIA agent who is out to catch the terrorists--which in his opinion, includes everybody that isn't exactly like him. At home, he has a very mixed family, including his Edith Bunker-esque wife Francine (who was a party girl before she married him), his liberal daughter that hates EVERYTHING he stands for, Hayley, and his son, Steve. And that is just the human characters! Rounding out the family at home is Klaus, the goldfish with the German accent, and Roger, the extremely--we will just say "flamboyant"--alien that Stan personally rescued from being murdered.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The set begins with the first episode, where Steve wants to win a student president election just to get girls, and Stan, knowing every single detail about how to steal elections, decides to give him a little bit of help! Francine decides to become a real estate agent in "Threat Levels," which Stan is fine with, until he discovers that a real estate agent makes more money than he ever will! Hayley becomes a stripper to support herself in "Stan Knows Best." Stan decides to wipe out Francine's memory after he forgets her anniversary in "Francine's Flashback," but Francine is accidentally taken back 20 years instead of one day!

On Disc 2, Jason Marsden plays the voice of an elderly woman that Roger becomes friends with (after Stan throws him in a landfill...) in "Roger Codger." Francine wants friends in the neighborhood, and Stan is okay with it--until he discovers the new neighbors are Iranian and decides to detain them in "Homeland Insecurity." In "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man," Stan enlists the help of Karl Rove to become deacon of his church, but his plans are somewhat thwarted when the least likely person in the family gets pregnant! Hayley is sleeping with Stan's boss in "Bullocks to Stan."

Finally, on Disc 3, Stan accidentally discovers--we will just say "self-pleasure"--after calling a surgeon that is work Dick Cheney and misinterpreting his medical advice in "A Smith in the Hand." Stan wants to prove to his co-workers how masculine Steve is in "All About Steve," but decides the best way to prove it is to basically disown him. In "Con Heir," we meet Stan's father--or is he REALLY Stan's father? Finally, the DVD set ends with the two-parter, "Stan of Arabia," where Stan is reassigned to work in Saudi Arabia after ruining his boss' party, but despite initial unhappiness about the reassignment, he quickly discovers that his beliefs and values fit in perfectly with the culture of Saudi Arabia and decides that Saudi Arabia is the perfect place to raise a family!


Packaging:

They did an excellent job with the packaging. The cover has a nice picture of the family standing in front of the American flag. On the back of the outer box is a picture of Stan all ready for the terrorists--in his underwear. The DVDs themselves are in slim cases. The case for Disc 1 has a picture of Stan and Francine, the case for Disc 2 has Hayley and Steve, and Disc 3 has Roger and Klaus. On the back of each case, there is a listing of all of the episodes on the set--presented in a "CIA file" style, with episode descriptions, airdates, and commentary information included, and a "file folder" that explains which scenes you can select from. Each disc is single-sided, and has the same picture on it that the slim case for the disc has on it. Episodes 1-4 are on Disc 1, 5-8 are on Disc 2, and 9-13 are on Disc 3.


Menu Design and Navigation:

These remind me of the Family Guy menus in a lot of ways. The main menu has the closing music playing in the background, and in the middle of the screen, there are brief video clips from various episodes playing--seems familiar to those with Family Guy DVDs! You can select the episode you want, or Play All from the Main Menu. Of course, Disc 3 also has the Special Features Option. On the Episode Selection menu, you can choose from Play, Scene Selection, Language Selection, or Commentary. Scene Selection allows you to start the episode from five different points in each episode, and of course, there are chapters located at all of the appropriate spots as well.


Video and Audio Quality:

This is a new show, and the oldest episode on the set is barely over a year old, so as one might expect, video and audio quality is great on the set, there is not a thing to complain about. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and additionally, you can choose English, Spanish, or French subtitles, as well as watch the episodes using closed-captioning.


Special Features:

They did a very good job with special features for the show! First of all, of the 13 episodes included, 12 of them have commentary tracks! The only thing that doesn't make sense is why they didn't include commentary on the other one. Although I didn't listen to EVERY commentary track, the ones I did listen to were full of information and there were few moments where the commentators were silent.

But there is more than just commentaries! There are several featurettes, beginning with "All in the Family: Creating American Dad" (20:33): This is just a featurette that discusses the show in general and how it began, including interviews with Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Seth MacFarlane, Dee Bradley Baker, Rachael MacFarlane, Wendy Schall, Scott Grimes. There is also a "Secrets of the Glass Booth" featurette (5:31) that talks about doing the voices on the show, but a lot of the material in this featurette is repeated in the "All in the Family: Creating American Dad" featurette.

If you want to actually see the voice work in action, there is plenty of that. You can watch "How's Your Aspen?: American Dad Performance at HBO's 2005 US Comedy Arts Festival" (25:46), a featurette where the actors are doing a live table read for the episode "Smith in the Hand." There is even a featurette that goes through a 40 minute table read from the episode "Threat Levels" while watching the animatic. Want deleted scenes? There are deleted scenes from EVERY episode included! There is a total of 17 minutes worth of deleted scenes, including 42 separate scenes! You can watch them individually or you can select Play All. The only thing missing is they don't allow you an option of watching these at the time that they would have aired, as is done on The Simpsons releases. There is a "The New CIA Promo" featurette (3:08), which is a fake promo for the CIA with Stan Smith as the star of the commercial. I'm not sure what purpose this was to serve, but it is kind of interesting to see anyway. There is a "2005 Super Bowl Pre-Game Promo," (1:35), which aired before the Super Bowl to promote the show (which aired later that night). For those that enjoy animatics (and honestly, I'm kind of annoyed by them after the seemingly nonstop animatics of the releases of The Simpsons), there are plenty of them... 14 minutes worth... from various episodes. There is also a promo for Family Guy (0:33), but it is hardly a special feature.


Final Comments:

This is a very good show and a very good set--it is nice to see that American Dad! is already off to a great start with the very first set! Hopefully future releases will be just as good. What I don't understand is why they didn't include episodes 14-19 on this release. Those episodes have already aired on Fox, and for $39.98, it would make sense to include those. It seems like they have done the same thing with this that they did with Family Guy Volume 3 (including such a low number of episodes). It is difficult to tell at this point in time how long American Dad! will be around, as it isn't an incredibly successful show (but at the same time isn't exactly a ratings disaster either), but it is obvious that the creators see this show as 'less of a show" than their other show, Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane sometimes seemed to be confused about details of this show even, which is not the case with him when he is discussing Family Guy. So pick up this DVD set--and if you don't, you'll be reported to the CIA for being a terrorist!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/22/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000E6ES9O/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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