AMERICAN DAD! – “The Life Aquatic with Steve Smith” (Episode 2, season 12)
American Dad is back! The 12th (or 13th) season (depending on how you count) commenced last week. While last week’s instalment was ho-hum, this week’s was a brilliant return to form, thanks in no small part to the mighty metal music of Metallica.
It is spring time. 14 year old Steve Smith has vowed that this year, he will finally get to touch his first real boobs. His latest scheme is simple. Varsity athletes seem to touch boobs all the time. Therefore, Steve needs a varsity jacket. The water polo team is looking for members, and hardly anyone has signed up. At tryouts, we meet the coach: “I’m the new coach, James Hetfield. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Woah! The James Hetfield from Metallica?’ The answer is no way. Even though I look and sound like him, and have all his guitars. The point is, if I had to deal with the kind of pressure that guy is under, I’d probably crack and end up as a high school water polo coach. So it’s a good thing that I’m just this very different James Hetfield.”
Unfortunately Steve cannot swim and is cut from the team. Only when he colludes with the family goldfish Klaus (an East German ski jumper whose brain was transferred into the body of a fish) does he have a chance. They realize that Steve can become the greatest water polo player in the world, with a little extra help from Klaus. Klaus operates Steve’s legs by using his short n’ curlies as puppet strings, and Steve is unstoppable! With his legs being controlled by Klaus, Steve can concentrate on the ball. Cue: “Master of Puppets”. Steve is back on the team! In fact, he’s the star.
The next musical number is the more recent “All Nightmare Long” (one of the best tunes from Death Magnetic), accompanying a montage scene. Steve and Klaus’ plan seems to be working, as Steve attracts the attention of Amy (Ashley Tisdale), the school sports editor. She wants to know what makes Steve so skilled at water polo, and the pressure is on. James Hetfield orders the team to take the rival highschool “off to neva-neva-land-ah!”
The side plot involves Stan Smith and Roger the alien buying a sailboat at a CIA auction. Roger’s antics are always hilarious, but the side plot can’t help but remain in the shadow of the main Metallica feature. Still, Roger’s voice is always hilarious to me, and I crack up when I get to hear Roger calling people “assholes”. I am easily amused. The show does benefit from the ability to use mild swearing now. Roger and Stan realize that owning a boat is kind of useless since they have nowhere to go and no idea how to sail. They must get rid of it…somehow!
If American Dad can maintain this level of quality, it is bound to be a great season. It’s also good to know that American Dad is maintaining its strong musical connections, even though showrunner Mike Barker left in 2013. Barker was responsible for many of the show’s best such moments, such as the My Morning Jacket episode. Although last season was a little bumpy, this episode might be the best one since Barker left.