TITLE: AMERICAN DAD! - VOLUME 4
DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 14
Running Time: 305 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 107 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitles; Closed-captioned
Special Features: Commentaries (every episode); Deleted Scenes; Tearjerker: And Then They Will Cry featurette; Roger: Master of Disguise featurette; Comic-Con 2008 featurette
Good morning, USA! CIA Agent Stan Smith is reporting for duty for yet another DVD set of the animated comedy American Dad! Volume 4 contains 14 episodes from seasons 3 and 4 of the series on a three disc set that contains a handful of nice special features.
The series comes from Seth MacFarlane, the guy that gave us the popular series Family Guy, and he also plays the title role of Stan Smith, a CIA Agent that is also trying to get by as the typical American dad, or at least typical by his own definition of what is typical. He lives in a typical suburb with his rather dull housewife Francine, his hippie daughter Hayley, nerdy son Steve, and then of course like all typical households, there is the Dynasty-watching boozing alien Roger and talking German goldfish Klaus. They’re all just getting by the best they can in this typical American household in American Dad!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
This set is comprised of a mysterious and curious hodgepodge of episodes, and begins with episode 10 of season 3 (January 13, 2008) and includes every episode through episode 6 of season 4 (November 16, 2008), but for some random and bizarre reason, episode 8 of season 3 (December 16, 2007) is tacked on at the end of Disc 3. This episode was not included in Volume 3 for some reason. So now, not only do we have these random volumes when seasons would have worked much better, but to make things more confusing, we have episodes being thrown totally out of order. I can’t understand why Fox insists on doing this with this series, as well as Family Guy. It is annoying and confusing. But, to be clear if you own all four volumes including this one, then you have every episode up through episode 6 of season 4.
The series turns an episode into a spy movie spoof in the episode “Tearjerker.” In “Oedipal Panties,” Stan goes undercover for a good cause--his mother’s romantic life. The communists are coming (and living next door) in “Red October Sky.” In “Office Spaceman,” the CIA is going to do an important job--capturing aliens--and what better way to do it than to use Roger? Raven-Symone guest stars.
In “Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold,” Stan goes on a search for some treasure that was buried by (of all people) Oliver North. Steve is on a quest to lose his virginity in “Spring Break-Up.” Sugar Ray guest stars. Puberty has started for Steve in “1600 Candles,” but Stan and Francine aren’t ready for it, so how will they stop it?
In “Choosey Wives Choose Stan,” Stan meets Francine’s ex-fiancé and feels inferior in comparison. Hayley’s new boyfriend looks an awful lot like Stan in “Pulling Double Body,” and there is a good reason for that--he is Stan’s CIA body double! Finally, the set ends with “The Most Adequate Christmas Ever,” where Stan is on a quest to find a Christmas tree at the last minute.
The set has a packaging style that we are all becoming accustomed to, but I personally have love-hate relationship with the packaging style. Unlike the first three volumes, which used slim cases, this set uses the regular plastic DVD Amaray-style case. In a sense, this packaging style is very efficient and easy to deal with, but it also feels somewhat cheap on some sets, and makes this set look and feel cheap when sitting next to the first three volumes on the shelf. But it isn’t a major deal. The front of the package has a picture of Stan (holding a smoking gun) with Francine and Roger. When you open the case, you have all three discs and a listing of the episodes with descriptions (there is no other information other than the descriptions, unfortunately). Discs 1 and 2 contain five episodes each, while Disc 3 contains four episodes and all of the special features. Disc 1 has a picture of Stan on it, Disc 2 has a picture of Roger on it, and Disc 3 has a picture of Francine on it.
Menu Design and Navigation:
I really like the design (read on, because design isn’t everything) on the menus on this set. They are both very professional and creative, and all of them have a spy movie theme (perhaps because of the “Tearjerker” episode on the set). The main menu on each disc has Stan and Francine tied up in front of a big screen TV at the CIA watching clips from each episode on the disc and lists all of the episodes on the disc, as well as a Play All option and Special Features option. When you select an episode, you get a submenu with options of Play, Scene Selection, Language Selection, and Special Features. These options are all relatively self-explanatory, but Special Features allows you to listen to the commentary tracks as well as the original censored audio tracks. As mentioned, there is a Scene Selection menu for each episode, and chapters are also appropriately placed throughout each episode.
But professional and creatively designed menus do not necessarily equate to perfect menus, and the menus have one MAJOR flaw. On the menu, all of the lettering is done in red and yellow, and when you highlight a selection on the menu, it has a green outline. But it is a very faint and impossible to see green outline. I spent several minutes thinking that there was something wrong with my disc or DVD player because I could not see anything highlighted on the screen! This would have been fine if the outlining was a bit thicker, but it isn’t, and as a result, the menu quality suffers somewhat.
Video and Audio Quality:
It is hard to go wrong on a recent animated series on DVD with video and audio quality, and as one would expect, this set is fine on video and audio quality. I looked for flaws and honestly couldn’t find that many on the set, although the episodes are not presented in high definition or anything like that (as the series has not yet been aired in that format, but most likely will be soon). The episodes look good and the audio (presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound) sounds fine. There are English, Spanish, French, and even Portuguese subtitles on the set, as well as closed-captioning.
“Oedipal Panties” (21:52)
“Red October Sky” (21:51)
“Office Spacemen” (21:52)
“Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold” (21:22)
“Spring Break-Up” (21:53)
“1600 Candles” (22:32)
“The One That Got Away” (21:52)
“One Little Word” (21:51)
“Choosey Wives Choose Smith” (21:51)
“Escape from Pearl Bailey” (21:55)
“Pulling Double Booty” (21:53)
“The Most Adequate Christmas Ever” (21:59)
There aren’t as many special features on this set as there were on the previous sets, but we still have plenty of them, beginning with the commentaries, which are presented on each and every episode once again. Commentaries for each episode are as follows:
“Tearjerker” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Albert Calleros, Eli Dolleman, Jonathan Fener and Nahnatchka Khan
“Oedipal Panties” - Jordan Blum, Rodney Clouden, Eli Dolleman, Kevin Thresher and Brent Woods
“Widowmaker” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Bob Bowen, Keith Heisler and John O’Day
“Red October Sky” - Jordan Blum, Eli Dolleman, Shawn Ian Kerkhoff, Mike Mayfield and Brent Woods
“Office Spaceman” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Chris Bennett, Laura McCreary and Brent Woods
“Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Pam Cooke, Erik Sommers and Jansen Yee
“Spring Break-up” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Albert Calleros, Jonathan Fener and Nahnatchka Khan
“1600 Candles” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Caleb Meurer, Kenny Schwartz and Rick Wiener
“The One That Got Away” - Mike Barker, Jennifer Graves, Chris McKenna, Walter Murphy and Tim Parsons
“One Little Word” - Albert Acosta, Glenn Buswell, Rodney Clouden, Kevin Thresher and Andria Venturina
“Choosey Wives Choose Smith” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Alex Cuthbertson, Joe Daniello, Matt Fusfeld and Shawn Murray
“Escape from Pearl Bailey” - Bob Bowen, Valerie Fletcher, John O’Day, Kevin Thresher and Brent Woods
“Pulling Double Booty” - Mike Barker, John Aoshima, Brian Boyle, Josue Cervantes and Rachael MacFarlane
“The Most Adequate Christmas Ever” - Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, John Aoshima, Kurt Dumas, Chris McKenna and Matt McKenna
The remaining special features can be found on Disc 3, beginning with deleted scenes (38:39). There are a TON of these. If my counting was correct, there were a total of 87 different ones! Fortunately, there is a Play All option for these deleted scenes. Honestly, these are often my favorite special features on the animated series, because they often end up having to cut out humorous cutaways that were brilliant, but had to go due to time constraints.
Next, we have “Tearjerker: And Then They Will Cry” (15:45). This is basically a behind-the-scenes look at the episode “Tearjerker” which is on Disc 1, talking about the spy spoof elements of the episode.
In “Roger: Master of Disguise” (11:09), we basically have a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the alien in the family, Roger. It really just talks mostly about how he gained a larger role in the series and talks a lot about how, as he began to get out of the house more often, they have been disguising him as a human.
Finally, there is a “Comic-Con 2008” featurette (39:59). These have been included on past releases of the series as well, and it is basically a table read of one of the episodes by the voice actors. The episode presented here is “Pulling Double Booty.” During the read, we get to see sketches and animatics from the episode, as well.
I don’t have any true complaints about this set, but somehow it really seems to be less impressive than the previous sets. The downgraded packaging, of course, is one of the biggest gripes that I have about this set. It just makes it feel so cheap. Also, having fewer special features (even though commentaries for every episode are still included) is a bit disappointing, but then again, there are still plenty of special features included on the set, so that isn’t a major deal. Finally, why can’t they just release every episode in seasons, and most importantly, simply in the order in which they aired?
Despite those gripes that I am making too big of a deal out of, you’d be surprised to know that actually, the set is pretty good. Fans of the series are definitely going to enjoy this set, and fans of animated comedies will enjoy this series as well. Admittedly, it is no Family Guy, but it is still a funny series that fans of Family Guy are sure to enjoy. And that is the CIA report for today folks!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 06/02/08
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