American Dad

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “The Hand that Rocks the Rogu”

AMERICAN DAD – “The Hand that Rocks the Rogu” (Episode 20, season 14)

Ever since the debut of Rogu earlier this season, American Dad fans have eagerly anticipated his next starring appearance.  This was saved for the season finale, “The Hand that Rocks the Rogu”.  Rogu, if you recall, is Roger’s homunculus, birthed from a tumor.  He has Roger’s ability to disguise himself as anyone he desires, but also has the temperament of a small child.  He needs to be watched and cared for like a child, despite his alien nature.

It’s Rogu’s childlike nature that makes him a perfect candidate for the schemes of Steve Smith.  Steve needs money, so he can afford the curly fries in the school cafeteria instead of the boring old straight kind.  The solution:  babysitting.  Mom doesn’t think he’s ready.  Roger, however, thinks he’s up to the task.  Roger leaves Steve to take care of Rogu, while he does one of his many jobs (a female prostitute).  If Steve does well, his mom will have to admit he’s ready to babysit.

Ominously, taking care of Rogu has three rules (shades of Gremlins):

  1. No candy.
  2. No screen time.
  3. Don’t let Rogu look at the ant farm.  (He won’t chip in for it, so he shouldn’t enjoy it.)

Predictably, within minutes, Rogu’s eaten some licorice.  When he starts barfing up little balls of Rogu that turn into fully-grown Rogus, Steve knows he’s in way over his head.  One turns into three, and three turns into dozens.  It only gets worse when Klaus the goldfish tries to contain the situation by giving the Rogus a little screen time….

Season 14 produced at least three exceptionally good American Dad episodes, and two of them centered around Rogu.  The bizarre alien offspring has quirks (a love of innocent jokes for example) and abilities far different from his father Roger.  American Dad felt rejuvenated this season and Rogu was a key part of that.

If you only watch two episodes this season, make ’em Rogus.

4.5/5 stars

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold”

AMERICAN DAD – “Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold” (Episode 15, season 3)

As we review our way through significant American Dad episodes, several outstanding musical numbers emerge.  When it comes to memorable TV tunes, there’s the Simpsons and then there’s American Dad.  A highlight of the earlier seasons was the song “Ollie North”, sung for one of Stan Smith’s heroes, the scandal-ridden Colonel Oliver North.  Done in an after-school-special style, the song is meant to educate!

As a kid I remember a summer of waiting through Oliver North hearings just to watch an episode of The Transformers.

Stan’s tune succinctly summed up the entire scandal.

In the 80s there was Cold War drama,
We fought the Commies inside Nicaragua,
Our friends were the Contras, Freedom was their mantra,
So we sent them lots of money for guns, and landmines.

But Congress stopped the Contra money flow,
Just ’cause they moved a teeny bit of blow.
But then a hero came forth, His name was Oliver North,
He and Reagan went around the sissy Congress.

OLLIE NORTH! OLLIE NORTH!

(Spoken) You see, North secretly sold missiles to a harmless country called Iran who would always be a grateful ally. Then he gave the profits to the Contras. Genius!

But the sales were uncovered by the press,
Reagan and North began to stress,
‘Cause what they did was technically high treason! (But it was totally justified.)

North volunteered to take the blame,
To save Reagan from prison rape shame,
The truth he did bury with his hot secretary,
Thanks to her shredder, he got off totally scot-free!

OLLIE NORTH! OLLIE NORTH!

He’s a soldier!
And a hero!
And a novelist!
And now he’s on Fox News!

But that’s not the story here.  Working for the CIA, Stan Smith has access to information.  He knows that North had a secret cache of gold, and he buried it somewhere on his property. The very house that the Smiths live in today! Ollie North’s gold has long been an obsession for Stan.  He named his first child “Hayley Dreamsmasher” because having kids meant giving up his quest for the gold.  Now, Stan thinks he has decoded secret messages left by North. When Stan begins actively pursuing Ollie’s gold again, the family grows concerned. Then a giant pit mine is dug in their living room.

In a separate storyline, Roger the alien tries to prove that he is sexually harassable.  So he invents two new characters (Laura Vanderbooben and Luke Fondleberg) to make that happen.

Will Stan find Ollie’s gold?  Will Roger win a cash settlement?  It doesn’t matter because that Ollie North song is so damn catchy!

5/5 stars

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “Jeff and the Dank Ass Weed Factory” (featuring Snoop Dogg)

AMERICAN DAD – “Jeff and the Dank Ass Weed Factory” (Episode 5, season 14)

With a title like “Jeff and the Dank Ass Weed Factory” , you should know what to expect automatically.  That’s right — this time, American Dad spoofed the Roald Dahl children’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and made it totally not for children!

Tommie Tokes (Snoop Dogg) has opened his weed factory to the pubic for the first time!  All you (and a guest) have to do is discover a golden blunt wrap, only four in the world!  But the C.I.A. want in as well.  Director Bullock needs to get his hands on the “Everlasting Edible” in the never-ending war on drugs. Stan Smith is dispatched, the perfect agent for the job.  Stan is notoriously anti-drug.

“Why did the pothead cross the road?  He doesn’t remember!”

Meanwhile his stoner son-in-law Jeff is down in the dumps because Stan considers him a lazy and stupid pothead.  He’d sure like to find one of the golden wraps and take a tour of the fabulous weed factory.  Stores are sold out everywhere, and one by one, the news announces the names of the winners.  First is “Pube Face”, then Larry the Steely Dan fan, and Angie who smokes before every meal.

Jeff almost lights and smokes his own golden blunt wrap before the family stops him!  He is the fourth winner!  And the perfect pawn that Stan needs to get inside the factory and steal the Everlasting Edible.

At the gates of the weed factory, Tommie Tokes suddenly appears!  It’s basically Snoop Dogg dressed as Gene Wilder, because let’s face it, if you needed someone to play a character named Tommie Tokes, Snoop is already that character in real life.  First room on the tour:  the edibles!  As in the original source material, one by one the winners are eliminated.  Pube Face thinks a normal office desk and stapler are edibles, and dies.  And like in the source material, little colourful dwarves appear to sing whenever someone dies.  It’s the Snoopa Loompas!  “Don’t be dumb, and use your eyes, you can’t make weed into office supplies.”

Into the next room, Tommie Tokes unveils a machine that can scan your mind and produce your own personal ideal strain of weed.  Angie wants to try it, but Tommie noticed that Stan didn’t eat anything in the edibles room.  He orders Stan into the scanner.  “If you don’t, I’m gonna think you a Narc.”  Not wanting to blow his cover, Stan is scanned.  His ideal strain?  “C-High-A”.  Angie, however, is not so lucky and gets zapped when she rushes in before the scanner is recharged.  Finally Larry the Steely Dan fan has his face blown off by Tokes’ insane sound system.  Larry, at least, died how he wanted.  But Jeff and Stan have wandered off on their own…one of them with ulterior motives!

“Why did I even have this dumb factory tour?” asks Tokes.  “I had very little to gain from a business perspective!”

Will Stan steal the Everlasting Edible, or will he get too stoned first?

There was no B-story this time, so not much Roger or anyone else.  The best episodes usually involve Roger and his personas.  “The Dank Ass Weed Factory” isn’t a top ten or top twenty episode, but Snoop fans or connoisseurs of weed humour need to check it out.

3.5/5 stars

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “Rabbit Ears”

AMERICAN DAD – “Rabbit Ears” (Episode 4, season 14)

It has been an exciting week for American Dad fans, as they devoured one of the weirdest episodes of the entire series, “Rabbit Ears”.  This is a series that did an entire episode in the form of a stage play.  Another was styled like an indi film and featured Zooey Dechanel as an overtly stated “manic pixie dream girl”.  This time, American Dad took off for The Outer Limits and ended up in the Twilight Zone.

There is no hint of the episode’s bizarre setting in the standard opening.  Stan, always up to something stupid, goes garbage picking on “big items” week, when people throw out large appliances.  He brings home a mattress infested with bed bugs and a giant, ancient television.  The Smith family are not amused, especially when Roger steals their attention as his latest persona:  a non-verbal newborn baby.  Then it gets weirder.

Sequestered in the basement with his mattress and television set, Stan sets up the antenna and gets nothing but static.  Then suddenly, Stan is woken from his slumber by the sweet sound of jazz, as a show finally comes in: “Nighthawks Hideaway”.

“Nighthawks Hideaway” intro with Alistair Covax

“Weclome Nighthawks, we’ve been expecting you.  The hour is late but the party is just getting started.  I’m Alistair Covax, your host for a sophistical little soirée with jazz, stimulating conversation, beautiful ladies…and more jazz.”

“What IS this show?” asks Stan.  It’s in black and white and clearly from the 1960s.

“Charlie, play some of those notes you know I like,” says Alistair to the jazz pianist.

Nothing on Google.  No record of the host Alistair Covax (Star Trek‘s Chris Pine) either.  Even TV Guide magazine says the show does never existed…but they know of a support group for people who claim to have seen Nighthawks Hideaway!  A show that does not exist…but multiple people have seen it.  Shades of Shazam/Kazaam!

Investigating the support group, Stan finds only one other attendee:  neighbour Al Tuttle (Richard Kind).

“There used to be more people, but one by one, they stopped coming,” explains Tuttle.

But what about the show?  “There’s only one episode!  And it re-runs over and over and over on channel 36!”

It’s even stranger than that.  “There’s only one episode…but it changes!  Little…differences in the show!  I keep track of them!”

That night, Stan notices something different on Nighthawks Hideaway.  Tuttle is in the show!  Not believeing his eyes, he knows further investigation is required.  Tuttle’s house is empty, but Stan finds his TV and notebook.  Here, Tuttle tracked differences from night to night.  The last page has the ominous note “I MUST GO IN.”

Stan studies the book and tracks the changes, night after night, in the basement on the old TV and finally discovers what happened to Al Tuttle.  And that’s when things get really Twilight Zone, and to go further would get into spoiler territory.

This episode “Rabbit Ears” was a truly fresh spin on a classic science fiction / horror theme.  Perhaps this style of storytelling is coming back into vogue.  There is a rebooted Twilight Zone now, hosted by Jordan Peele.  Regardless of trends, American Dad are still the masters of a specific type of surreal animated comedy.  The show is its own genre now, and “Rabbit Ears” is a clear indicator that its potential remains wide open.  Keep ’em coming.

5/5 stars

 

 

Sunday Chuckle: Rogu!

By now you know that “Rogu” is my favourite new American Dad character. I decided to set him up as my desktop background at work.  The result is suitably freaky.

 

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “Persona Assistant”

AMERICAN DAD – “Persona Assistant” (Episode 16, season 13)

For fans of Roger the alien, the13th season of American Dad really delivered this time.  It was a special episode:  #250 of the long-running animated series.  The best episodes usually focus on Roger and his many personas.  This instalment was one of them.

We get a glimpse of Roger’s daily life.  He’s busy for an alien.  He has so many personas to live, and only 24 hours in a day.  The workload must be getting to him.  He’s feeling sickly and has a strange lump growing on his ample forehead.

Roger is resistant but the Smith family take him to see Dr. Kalgary, the show’s resident master of the dark sciences.  Kalgary removes the lump, a large tumour, and Roger is sent for rest and rehabilitation.  Taking a jar with his tumour sealed inside, Roger goes on vacation.  So who will handle all his personas while he’s away?

Stan steps up for the recovering Roger, only to find that living the lives of his all personas is hard work!  Of course he mucks it all up.  To his shock, Roger’s personas were so important that their absences causes the city to descend into chaos and anarchy.  When Roger finally returns, he is not alone.  It turns out that his species have a way of handling stress.  That tumour was not a tumour at all, but a little homunculus named Rogu!  With Rogu’s help, Roger can fix the damage that Stan has done.  But not before the return of one of American Dad’s most requested personas:  Ricky Spanish!  The most hated man in town!  Only Rogu can stop him.

When I saw Rogu, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.  The same thing happened the next day when I watched again.  For whatever reason, Rogu has tickled my funnybone in a serious way.  Roger has, over time, become almost a normal character.  There’s little he can do that surprises you anymore.  Rogu?  That’s a whole new ballgame.  The show can get even weirder now.  (Rogu is absolutely certain to return, considering an upcoming episode is called “The Hand that Rocks the Rogu“.)

In the second storyline, Steve’s joined the jazz club at school.  Playing on the old stereotype of drugged out jazzbos, Steve takes performance enhancing drugs to take his scat singing to the next level!  The finals are coming, and Steve brings his scatting to the extreme.  Only morphine can stop him.

Fuck yeah, American Dad.  I thought maybe the best years were behind.  Apparently not.  Carry on!

5/5 Rogus

Sunday Chuckle: Jeopardy!

Just something cute for this week.  If you’re a fan of Jeopardy, perhaps you remember this one from the April 30 episode.  I was so excited I had to take a picture of the screen.

Regular readers at mikeladano.com know the question.  What is American Dad?

In Getting More Tale #606, we discussed five reasons why Roger the Alien is the greatest character on television today.  “Roger the Alien is responsible for many historical events that you didn’t know about,” I wrote.   “He helped the US hockey team win the gold in the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’. He did this on steroids as his hockey player persona, Chex LeMeneux.”

Great to see good ol’ Chex as a question on Jeopardy!

#606: Why Roger Smith is the Greatest Character on Television

GETTING MORE TALE #606:
Why Roger Smith is the Greatest Character on Television

Roger Smith from American Dad is an alien. He’s grey, squat, with a big bulbous head and no visible nose. He thinks he looks like Lena Dunham. “It’s nice to see someone with my exact body type succeed.” But he has several amazing abilities that allow him to blend in with modern society. Some of these abilities are musical. If you want to know how an alien can impact the world we live in, even musically, then check out some of Roger’s amazing traits and accomplishments below.

Parker Peters

1. Master of Disguise

Roger can disguise himself as anyone.  Even his own family can’t recognise him in certain outfits. A wig and some clothes are all that’s necessary. In disguise as Kevin Bacon, he even successfully framed the actor for a car accident when the real Bacon was 2000 miles away.  “I didn’t think I did it,” said the real Kevin, “but it’s clearly me on the tape!”

Some of Roger’s most incredible disguises include “alien hunter” Parker Peters, and his mentally handicapped bodybuilder persona, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Max Jets

2. Incredible Speed

Using his ability to move really fast when he wants to, Roger can appear to be in multiple places simultaneously. This has allowed him to live multiple lives under different personas. As wedding planner Jeanie Gold, he raised a family. As Roslyn Jenkins, he has been married for eight years to business mogul Ax Jenkins, in a long running plot to trick Ax into breaking his pre-nup agreement. It is revealed that even though he lives “full time” with the Smith family, he also seemingly lives with dozens of other families all at the same time. Meanwhile, his old man millionaire persona Max Jets languishes away in jail. Roger’s ability to manage these multiple lives simultaneously is unparalleled in television.

Kripsy Kreme McDonalds

3. Musical Ability

Roger is also drummer Krispy Kream McDonalds, percussionist for Steve and the Ass-Tones. Because he has no bones, his drumming ability is unparalleled. That’s not all.  As hipster guitar player Donald, he acquired his great skill due to a deal with a devil. When he makes a bet with another guitarist, the stakes being “the cost of his lessons”, Donald wins and passes the soul debt on to the loser.  He is also known as country singer Cuss Mustard, and even seduced Ricky Martin and stole his shirt.

Roger can be heard singing a number of original songs on the show. His best include “The Confi-dance” and “You’ve Got a Kink”. Roger is naturally drawn to artists such as Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. In order to watch the Barbra Does Celine pay-per-view TV special, Roger disguises himself as a Viet Cong and kidnaps Stan in a makeshift POW camp, all for the pay-per-view password.

Roger even “invented” Disco music. In a time travel snafu, Stan Smith left a Best of Disco cassette in the 1970s. The tape is found by Roger, who strikes it mega-rich, until Disco is declared dead in 1981.

The Prophecy

4. He is Somehow Connected to the End of Days

Early in season one, Roger reveals he can poop out jewel-encrusted golden turds. As the series unfolds, one of his turds inspires great evil and murderous cover-ups over the years, moving all the way up to the White House. In the season 14 opener, it is revealed that Pope Francis and all the world’s religious leaders are aware of a secret prophecy involving the discovery of the golden turd. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show that the only way to destroy the golden turd is to return it to its source – Roger’s anus.

Chex LeMeneux

5. He Impacted History in Remarkable and Unexpected Ways

Roger the Alien is responsible for many historical events that you didn’t know about. Yes, he “invented” Disco. How about Jar Jar Binks? Also invented by Roger. The killing of the Notorious B.I.G.? Caused by his driver Roger aka MC Raw G, when he went all road-rage on another vehicle. “No one cuts off Biggie Smalls!” Whoops. He also got a sober George W. Bush back on the booze, and helped the US hockey team win the gold in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”. He did this on steroids as his hockey player persona, Chex LeMeneux.

As if all this wasn’t enough, he can fart toxic gas! Just feed him okra. He is fireproof and can float. Stan Smith used him as a floatation device when stranded on a desert island.

If these reasons are not enough to convince you that Roger Smith is the greatest television character of the modern era, then nothing will. My advice is to just watch American Dad and see for yourself.

#590: Hipster Moustache Cassette Player

GETTING MORE TALE #590: Hipster Moustache Cassette Player

As expressed in Getting More Tale #423: The Tyranny of Cassette in the 80s, I am not a fan (at all) of the cassette tape format.  As cassettes have picked up traction this year, it is an opinion that I have been sharing more frequently on social media.  I feel we need a refresher.

Some fans (such as fellow writer and tech-head Boppin) have made good arguments for tapes in the past, explaining that if you have the right equipment, you can make a tape sound so good that you won’t know it’s a cassette.  That may be so, but I:

  1. don’t have said equipment nor any desire to get a new tape deck.
  2. no longer have the need to play cassettes, having upgraded 99% of my collection to more permanent formats like CD and LP.

The subject of cassette tapes was recently revived with the announcement that the hit Netflix series Stranger Things will be receiving a deluxe cassette soundtrack.  The cassettes will be packaged to look like miniature VHS tapes…just like the 1980s.

I’m a fan of the show, so I get it.  Stranger Things celebrates so much about the 80s:  the culture, the style, the music, and yes, even the technology.  If you are also a fan, owning a cassette soundtrack version in retro packaging would be quite a collectible treat.  Not as cool as the 80s-style Stranger Things action figures, but still neat.

Fans of the music of Stranger Things would be well advised to get the excellent soundtrack, but if you get it on cassette, why bother to play it?  It won’t even sound as good as a Youtube stream.  Unless you’re one of the few who has great cassette equipment, why not just buy the CD, or the absolutely gorgeous LP editions, and play those?  They’ll last longer while the cassette will wear out the fastest.

Would you open it?  Would you play it?

This brings us back to a short bit that I recorded for Sausagefest 2017, which was received with agreement by those in attendance.  Here’s the relevant portion below.  I call it “Hipster Moustache Cassette Player”.  What do you think?

 

HIPSTER MOUSTACHE CASSETTE PLAYER

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “My Morning Straitjacket”

AMERICAN DAD! – “My Morning Straitjacket” (Episode 7, season 5)

Has Stan gone too far this time? Daughter Hayley has gone to a rock concert!  According to a furious Stan, rock concerts are “the devil’s music!  It’s the number one cause of school violence, teen pregnancy and leather pants!”  But My Morning Jacket are “awesome” according to Hayley, and she plans on going again the next night, until Stan confiscates the tickets!

Fortunately for Hayley, mom Francine understands rock and roll.  She used to get backstage the hard way, not like today with those sissy radio giveaways.  She secretly returns the tickets to Hayley, infuriating Stan. Using his CIA noise-cancelling earplugs, he goes to the concert to “rescue” his daughter.  “Idiots!  Paying good money to hear something they already heard on a record!”  But when he removes his special earplugs, he hears the music…and finally feels something!  Where Stan used to feel only anger, he now feels everything!

Jim James has an “angelic” voice according to Stan.  “He makes Enya sound like a Russian couple arguing at the bowling alley!”  He can’t get enough.  “I want to hear all their music!  Right now!”  This leads to an unhealthy obsession with the band, accompanied by a smorgasbord of their songs:  “Wordless Chorus”, “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream (Part 2)”, “I’m Amazed”, “Remnants”, “Highly Suspicious”, and “Phone Went West”. The animation for Stan’s musical fantasy sequence is suitably trippy. Stan flies through space carried by owls, with My Morning Jacket singer Jim James riding on his back! As usual for Stan, his obsessive behaviour leads to neglect for his family and job. Something has to be done! The final straw is when Stan spends $900 on a bootleg CD of Jim James gargling in the bathroom before a show.

Stan is under the delusion that he and Jim James are soul mates, so Roger the alien comes up with a plan. Dressed as his groupie persona Abbey Road (“I’m Abbey Road, and when it snows I need to be plowed!”) they go to follow My Morning Jacket and meet Jim James. When they finally encounter James in person, he convinces Stan that he already has a real soul mate — his wife Francine.

The music of My Morning Jacket is diverse and entertaining, and although their softer moments are a bit limp, when they rock they rock. As for this episode? It rocks.

5/5 stars