AMERICAN DAD – “Brave N00b World” (Episode 4, season 17)
Chinese ice cream can save the world. That’s the message of this episode of American Dad.
CIA agent Stan Smith has a new assignment. A North Korean general is expected to be in China for an Overwatch video game competition. Stan and his team must enter the contest and progress through the rounds to assassinate the general, but first he will need his son Steve’s help playing the game and looking like a millennial. Jackson better learn to vape if he wants to fool anyone into thinking he’s young and into Overwatch! If the team can get some Chinese ice cream while there, so much the better.
Unfortunately for Stan and his team (and the world), his attention is split between his son and his assignment. He wasn’t totally honest with Steve, who thinks this is more a father-son trip than a kill-a-North-Korean-general trip. As Stan is learning, focus is key. So how can he split his focus between assignment and son?
Since it’s Stan Smith we’re talking about, you can safely assume he screws it up and the mission goes wrong as usual. But this time, he didn’t just screw it up Stan style. He didn’t even stop at full Sledge Hammer. This time, Stan goes all the to way maximum Rick and Morty, and destroys the entire world.
Smith misses his shot, botching the assassination. China launches their nukes. America retaliates. Mutually assured destruction.
Fortunately, China saved mementos of their heritage in a culture pod, including a cone of delicious Chinese ice cream. So America launches an eagle-headed missile adorned with truck-nuts and blaring “Kickstart My Heart”, and the culture pod is destroyed. Before you can say “Kee-stah-ma-hah”, there is nothing left of the Earth. Nothing but rubble, dust, and ash…and a single scoop of Chinese ice cream, floating in space, past Mars, past the asteroid belt, and into the void.
For one million years, the ice cream floats through the cosmos undisturbed until finally an alien ship happens upon it. What an incredible taste! They must have more. Scans show that Earth suffered an “extinction event”. The only way to get more ice cream is to re-create the Earth and let time do the rest.
The world has a second chance. Will Stan do it differently this time? Will anyone discover the truth of this new reconstructed existence? Will Bill Nye show up at the end to throw cold water all over “Ice Cream-ulation Theory”? You’ll have to watch to find out.
In the B-story, the entire rest of the family gets their heads stuck in the banister, which basically puts Roger, Francine, Hayley and Jeff out of action. The best instalments are usually Roger-centric, but not this time. Perhaps American Dad needed to catch up with Rick and Morty, or perhaps it should try harder to live up to the promise of old episodes like “Lost in Space” or the saga of the Golden Turd. At first it appeared this episode was going to a gamer-based comedy. Then it evolved into something more existential. It can be stated firmly that “Brave N00b World” returns the show to a high point like the good old Mike Barker days.
GETTING MORE TALE #805(.5): LeBrain’s Top List of 2019 n’ More
Preamble: The Year in Review (and Reviewing)
2019 was the seventh year of life for this site, and we do thank you for that! Getting tired with the same old way of doing things, I became bored. The solution was throwing some new content into the mix and seeing what happened!
The first thing I planned was an informal new series called Just Listening. Though people confused these writings with reviews, it’s essentially just my thoughts as I listened to an album. Sometimes I would revisit an old record I already reviewed and see if I felt any different. There were 10 instalments of Just Listening in 2019. I intend to continue doing this, as sometimes I just have a few ideas to jot down after playing an album. Reviews will remain as in-depth and intense as you’ve come to expect. I love writing reviews, and there are a few lined up for early January that I hope you’ll enjoy too. At the same time, it’s increasingly important for me to just listen to music. My collection has dusty corners that miss my attention.
Second, in 2019 I bought a bunch of new tech. Why not, right? It’s kind of funny. I grew up in the 70s and 80s; back when you debated for months or years over in which home video system to invest . Tech is far more disposable today. The worst thing that can happen is a relatively painless, postage-paid Amazon return.
So a waterproof camera was added to my arsenal. This enabled me to make a bunch of cool videos this past summer, including what I think is the best Sausagefest video yet. One of the immense joys of that summer gathering is the fresh, cool water of the Beaver river. For the first time this was captured for you up close and personal.
It’s easy to sit here tootin’ my own horn but I feel the 2019 video gets you closer to the feeling of actually attending a Sausagefest yourself. You can imagine sitting in the river with us, drinking or smoking whatever you fancy.
A new dashcam enabled me to start another video “series” called Dashcam Idiots. I honestly thought, living in Kitchener Ontario, that I’d have a lot more content to post by now. (I did get a cool late-night video of a deer on a country road that I thankfully didn’t hit.) I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have a multitude of dashcam videos to upload.
The biggest and most important new series was a long time wish of mine: my VHS Archives.
The new tech this time was a cheap USB video capture device. This enabled me, after many years of promises, to share my personal Pepsi Power Hour videos with you from the late 80s and early 90s. It has been a culmination of a decades-long dream: taking this rather large VHS library and getting the rarest and most valuable content online. As of writing this, I’m 82 instalments deep.
And because this is supposed to be a list of lists, here are what I consider to be the Top Five Best/Most Significant of the 2019 VHS Archives. You’d be remiss not to play these.
1. Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) interviewed by Erica Ehm – 1989
The best interview with Blackie that I’ve ever seen.
2.Bruce Dickinson and Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) interviewed by Erica Ehm – 1988
3.Bruce Kuclick and Gene Simmons (Kiss) interviewed by MuchMusic – 1992
Reposted by Bruce!
4.Rik Emmett of Triumph co-hosting the Pepsi Power Hour with Erica Ehm including two musical performances – 1988
5.MuchMusic Hear N’ Aid special featuring Ronnie James Dio (1986)
There’s lots left on these tapes so the VHS Archives will continue into 2020! I’ve left some “big guns” in reserve for future posts. As long as none of these tapes break! One or two of them are in very, very rough shape now. Others are still pristine.
Want a taste of what’s still to come? Here’s a preview.
Which of these interviews would you like to see first? Vote below!
The Movies I Saw: Don’t expect a comprehensive list!
1.The Avengers: Endgame
2.Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
5.Spider-Man: Far From Home
Nothing but sequels and spinoffs!
Top TV Shows of 2019: I don’t watch a lot of shows.
1.Stranger Things 3
2.Star Trek: Discovery season 2
3.American Dad! season 16
4.Rick and Morty season 4 (part one)
5.The Mandalorianseason 1
I’ve been talking The Mandalorian on social media quite a bit, and I’ve been quite critical of the show. It’s #5 by default.
The new Tom Keifer Band is really remarkable. With soul, roots n’ blues yet also a foot in classic Cinderella rock. The heart of the Keifer Band made it an easy #1. Whitesnake put out a strong effort; probably their best since Slip of the Tongue or even 1987. Marillion may have re-recorded old songs with an orchestra, but in doing so it’s possible that they have recorded the definitive versions. Tool is Tool is Tool is Tool. And Jim Crean deserves a shout-out for his guest-laden original album The London Fog, better than a lot of well known releases in 2019.
The Darkness – Easter is Cancelled
I have not been able to wrap my head around this album. I’ve steadfastly stood by this band through five albums, often in quick succession, but this time they’ve thrown a curve. Perhaps it’ll grow on me in 2020.
…And I haven’t even seen The Dirt. I just feel that strongly about it.
I hate the look of the guys playing The Crue, I hate the idea of a biopic, and I hope to make it through another year without seeing it. I’m happy with my copy of the book — the only Dirt you really need.
…A Look Ahead at 2020
Motley Crue will be a towering part of the 2020 tour scene, as they look ahead to their big “Stadium Tour” with Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett. Meanwhile the Robinson brothers Chris and Rich have formed a new version of The Black Crowes, who will be playing all of Shake Your Money Maker live. Far more interestingly, Mr. Bungle (now featuring Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo) will be reuniting and playing only three shows, featuring their cassette demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny played in full for the first time. Even the original BulletBoys have reunited.
The big news, so they say, is still to be announcd. Keep your ears to the ground for a full-on 2020 AC/DC tour with Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd back in the fold. Reliable sources have stated that the band are finishing up old Malcolm Young song ideas for album release.
Stay safe this New Year’s Eve and we’ll chat in 2020!
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):
No screen time.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!