TV Show Review: American Dad (Pilot)
Almost anyone will agree that the sitcoms on TV these days are uninspired, unoriginal, predictable, and use the same recycled jokes over and over. While I agree that comedy on TV needs an overhaul, American Dad proves that even when trying to do something different, you can still end up with a generic pile of garbage. The uninspired characters, cookie cutter plot, and jokes that could’ve been torn out of any garden-variety sitcom form the same old mindless comedy you’ve seen a million times before, only this time it’s animated. American Dad ends up being just as bland as the shows it purports to parody.
American Dad tells the story of the Smiths, an average American family with average American problems. The “American Dad” in question is Stan Smith; a conservative rough and tough man’s man who works for the CIA. He worries about his son Steve’s lack of manliness, laments his daughter Hayley’s profuse liberalism, and tells his weak-minded wife, Francine, how to act and what to think. Stan’s personality and interactions with his family were outdated long before Al Bundy had begun to offend the world. Also along for the ride are a goldfish with the brain of a randy German Olympic skier, and an alien who is apparently too lazy to go back home. If you were to remove the fish and the alien, you’d have generic sitcom #527. Get rid of just the fish, and you have Alf without the laughs or originality. Characters like Stan, Francine and the goldfish are slight tweaks on the people you would expect to see in the average sitcom, but still too close to a mirror image to evoke real laughter or interest. Steve, Hayley and Roger the alien would perfectly fit into any other TV show. With such a boring group, viewers can find nothing of interest in the characterizations.
In the pilot episode, we see Steve having trouble dating girls, but his luck improves when he gets help from his father. When Hayley doesn’t want to do her college reports, she hires the family alien to write them for her, and pays in chocolate. Of course, at the end of the episode, everyone learns their lessons, and they go back to one happy family. Although there are a few things out of the ordinary that occur (mostly Stan’s use of his CIA skills in solving his families’ problems), the plot could be a template for any other bland comedy. Such mindless drivel has been seen a million times over since the sitcom was first created. The plot fails to introduce anything of interest to the show.
The only things that could save a program with such problems are the jokes. Unfortunately, these are just as much a letdown as the rest of American Dad. The jesting is mostly the same lifeless refuse you can get on any other sitcom, with a tiny bit of pointless shock humor. One would expect a show coming from the creator of Family Guy, Seth McFarlane, to be ripe with cutting edge offensive techniques, but with shows like South Park which are a million times more biting and intelligent, American Dad comes off somewhere in between Sesame Street and confusingly stupid.
I am giving the pilot for American Dad an Avoid Like the Plague rating. The show reeks of blasé dullness you can find in most other comedies on TV. It comes off as generic sitcom with no intelligence whatsoever. What little shock it has seems half-hearted and has nowhere near the impact of more intelligent shockers like South Park or The Simpsons. There is simply no reason to watch a show that tries to break new ground, but ends up copying all the mistakes of its predecessors. Without a major retooling before the show’s official start, this would appear to be a complete waste of time for everyone involved.
American Dad gets 42 thumbs up my worst rating ever.