American Dad: “Virtual In-Stanity”
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American Dad: “Virtual In-Stanity”

This one's for the nerds. It had regular guest star Patrick Stewart joined by Alyson Hannigan and Sarah Michelle Gellar Prinze Jr., as well as references to Aliens, Avatar and The Terminator (at least). Despite having many opportunities, American Dad generally resisted the impulse to pander, with the possible exception of Francine climbing into an exo-suit and saying “Stay away from him, you bitch!” This meant the episode managed to focus on doing what American Dad does best – being funny.

The plot serves the purpose of putting all the characters into the position of interacting with one another in increasingly ridiculously fashion, which is what's best for a joke-based comedy. Stan realizes that he's been an absentee dad for most of Steve's life, so he decides to fix that. He seeks advice from Francine, which leads to the inevitable truth: “He doesn't want ball games, he just wants to ball dames. Huh? HUH?” So Stan, naturally, uses a sexy CIA “avatar” to hang out with Steve. Steve's happy to do so to get into her pants, but Stan's not ready to take the relationship to the next level, so Steve goes to hang out with a realer, nerdier, apparently easier girl. So Stan decides to put out with his avatar, Francine finds out, and stops him. Meanwhile, Roger and Klaus go on a limousine-related killing spree.

This means that every major character has something to do in this episode, and each of them, except perhaps Klaus, do it entertainingly. A range of different minor characters pop in as well – Stewart's Bullock is hanging out with Stan, Principal Lewis drops a joke then leaves before he wears out his welcome, and Snot's reciprocated-but-star-crossed crush on Steve is referenced enough for at least one of the better jokes of the episode, but it doesn't become the focus.

It also helps that Hannigan and Gellar are effective guest stars. It doesn't turn into Buffy The Animated Series, and their characters never directly interact, which may or may not be a disappointment to you. But both have voices with enough personality to fit their characters – they're no Cee-Lo, but they don't need to be.

So this episode had everything it needed to be a success, and it built on that. From the initial “Race riot!” joke in the opening, it did what American Dad does best – it maintains a constant level of humor, with a high point of Stan getting low to “Get Low” using his avatar. It's a great episode for fans of Roger, Stan, Francine, and Steve, which I'm pretty sure encompasses pretty much every American Dad fan.

Stray observations:

  • “Stan, we finally just got Steve off the heroin from the last birthday present you got him.” “I got so hiiiigh.”
  • “Your mom didn't kiss me til the third date! It made the sex on the first two dates very impersonal.”
  • “Must...get...ploughed...by son!”

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