American Dad: “Hot Water”
B+

American Dad: “Hot Water”

B+

American Dad

“Hot Water”

Season 7, Episode 1

Hello animation fans! In the great cartoon split-up of 2011, I've ended up with American Dad, which I'm quite happy about. Other than maybe Bob's Burgers (which I'm also pencilled in to cover when it takes American Dad's place in the Spring), American Dad was the most consistently entertaining Animation Domination show when I covered all of them last season.

Yet I'm also a little concerned, because while American Dad may be entertaining, it can be difficult to write about. Its gleeful disregard for convention and serialization is a major part of its charm, but when there aren't rules to break, what can you say? In American Dad's case, you can still say a lot, because, well, this show is weird, as tonight's episode demonstrated in fine fashion.

If there is any pop star whose sensibilities would seem to mesh with American Dad's, it's Cee-Lo Green, who combines a wicked sense of humor with wild creativity and sheer over-the-top horniness (seriously: I had to stop following his Twitter account when it seemed to exist primarily to pick up women). Yet it's one thing to have a congruent guest star and another to essentially give him the keys to the show, as “Hot Water” turns into an elaborate, musical Little Shop Of Horrors parody. Stan finds a hot tub, the hot tub corrupts him into turning into a hot tub hedonist, but then he realizes that it's evil, and then fights back.

As I was writing this, even though I saw the episode just an hour or two ago, I got concerned that I'd forgotten just how Stan had defeated the hot tub. I had no memory of this! Did I need to go online and look for it? But then I remembered: Stan didn't win. Despite setting everything up for a heroic return, the episode closes on Stan, Francine, and Principal Lewis' apparent death. Because that's funnier than having a happy ending, and there's no need, when next week, American Dad will reset and go right back to being insane the way it was.

But when that way involves a rock opera including a finger in some kind of braying donkey, or Steve and Roger's song about Daddy being gone, or Cee-Lo himself inexplicably narrating the episode on-camera? I'll take that reset button, and I'll take it happily. This wasn't, perhaps, the gut-bustingly funny American Dad that the show can be at its best, but audacity in musical form is just about as good. American Dad used tonight's season premiere to establish itself as the weird middle sibling of the Fox animated shows. Right now, it's probably also the best of them.

Stray Observations:

  • “9:11 to 9:12 – think about 9/11.” Stan plans his day.
  • American Dad seems to think “dropping a deuce” is inherently funny. Fortunately, it's probably right.
  • “That old hot tub loosened Stan right on up. Now he's got lady foot in his mouth. That's cooool.” Whooooaaa foot fetish!
  • “You think that every single day of my life I don't want to do coke? But I can't! I have PTA tomorrow!”
  • “So much old material that's irrelevant/whoa what was that/back to being relevant!”