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American Dad: “Dr. Klaustus”


American Dad

“Dr. Klaustus”

Season 7 , Episode 14

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I’ve been reviewing American Dad for almost two seasons now, and I believe that this is the first Klaus episode I’ve seen. Even Haley had more to do in a few episodes, most notably that first two-parter about her marriage. Klaus, on the other hand, has been largely forgotten, occasionally popping up to make fun of Roger or Steve.

Many of you in the comments have noticed this as well, and praised it. That praise is probably deserved. Klaus just isn’t a strong enough character to hang an episode on. He’s grating, and the snotty German accent just drives comedy and sympathy screaming out of the room.

In spite of Klaus being the focal point of “Dr. Klaustus,” American Dad still makes some good come out of it. Roger has been playing the family therapist—a Dr. Penguin—and has been consistently telling each of the family members to lie to each other about their various, increasingly fucked-up issues. But Klaus is a trained psychologist, and knows he could do better. So he sends Roger’s new alter-ego, Sgt. Pepper of the Army Reserve, to Iraq.

Iraq’s a long way to travel for a Hurt Locker parody, where Roger cleans out latrines instead of disarming bombs. This is probably the weakest portion of the episode, or at least the most disappointing. Roger’s character is one-note, and he doesn’t really interact with anyone interesting, although a moment when he declares himself unfit for human society is fairly entertaining.

It’s far more fun watching the tender threads that bind the Smith family as they fray under to Klaus’s manipulations. Haley’s unhappiness with Jeff’s Ultimate Frisbee skills are a high point, but everything the family is doing works. Steve is hiding his family from his unlikely girlfriend by pretending Greg and Terry are his parents. Jeff is more attracted to Francine than Haley. Stan can’t stand Francine’s cooking, but she’s been stealing money from him for drugs for years (what drugs are never specified). It all culminates in an anarchic battle, as Steve pees in everyone’s Cheerios.

I mentioned last week that American Dad seemed weaker when it only had one plotline going on at a time, and I think this is still partially the case with this episode. There was a fairly lengthy digression as Roger went to Iraq, yes, but the whole thing was still basically the story of the Smith family therapy. What made it better was that every character had their own component of the story. It was enough to be funny, but not so much that anyone— except perhaps Klaus—overstayed their welcome. I suppose this is probably the best we could hope for given that this was an episode about one of the show’s weakest characters and built around a parody of a years-old movie.

Stray observations:

  • One way to deal with Klaus: “Snowglobe!”
  • “What happened? Did I win?” It’s been a while since we’ve seen ditzy Francine, I think, but very welcome.
  • “Inbred dinner wolves! This is what I’m talking about! Embarrassing!”
  • “Why is there a hole in Daniel Craig’s mouth?” “He was hungry and I was feeding him something.” A somewhat light episode for Roger’s perversions.