American Dad's brand of consequence-free shock comedy is more difficult than it looks. Yes, South Park and Family Guy have both been doing it for decades, but to say that those two shows lack consistency is something of an understatement. American Dad, despite using many of the same concepts, is actually fairly consistent.
It works for the simple reason that it's built on a straightforward core relationship between Stan and Francine, which is hardly a new observation in this space. Just last week we had an episode that focused almost exclusively on the two of them. Stan is crazy in his way, Francine is crazy in her way, and it becomes a relationship of equals, where one grounds the other at times, or both go off into insanity-ville together. For any comedy to work on a regular basis, it needs some grounding in an emotional connection.
This is why this episode doesn't quite work. It breaks away from Francine and Stan's fun relationship and veers into the more conventional cartoon relationship, where the husband is a buffoon and the wife has to keep him check. In this case, there's a crisis (the hurricane which also crossed over to Family Guy and Cleveland), and Stan wants to solve it in his apparently rational way. But Francine notes that those seemingly logical responses to a crisis are almost always wrong in practice. As a result? We see Stan trying to prove her wrong and failing miserably.
This isn't a terrible premise, and I wouldn't even call this a bad episode of American Dad. It certainly has some great moments, like when Hayley, who's supported Stan's plans throughout, takes his advice to let some water in and is promptly carried off by a shark, or a random shot of Principal Lewis in a thong firing assault rifles. On the other hand, it does waste Kristen Schaal's vocal talents on a random character, and anyone who read my Bob's Burgers reviews know the esteem with which I hold her line readings.
- Speaking of Hayley, this episode is probably the one that gave her the most character work since she married Jeff. Part of that issue is the massive backlog of American Dad episodes, which makes anything resembling continuity pretty well impossible. But the larger part of the issue might be, as this episode indicates, that Hayley isn't all that interesting (note to American Dad writers: Watch Community's Britta Perry).
- These episodes were originally scheduled to run in the spring before Fox pulled them due to potential insensitivity about storms and flooding in the news.
- “Maybe a massage will calm you down. Just start up here.”
- “See what a good wife Jeff is, Francine?”
- “My wine fridge! I had my cocaine in there!”
- “Thank God this one survived. I can still go to cowboy weddings.”