Last week, I talked about all the ingredients that went into making a great American Dad episode. Solid guest stars, use each of the main characters, keep the laughs coming. It was effective and true last week, so I have no regrets, except for the minor one that it probably would have been better for me to save it for this episode, probably my favorite since I started reviewing the show. Because it does everything I talked about last week, and might even have done it slightly better.
In the main plot, the CIA hires an alien bounty hunter to capture the rogue alien (Roger), and Stan finds that his former massive crush from CIA boot camp is in town. He tries to drop everything in order to rekindle his old crush, which turns Stan into the gibbering fool that he's perhaps best when he's doing. Francine can't help but notice, so she gets righteously angry, another excellent realm for that character. She recruits Roger to get into the character of Dan Handsome, who will sweep Stan's old crush Scarlett of her feet. So we get in-character, sexual Roger, who is directly competing with Stan, another premise filled with excellence.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about “The Scarlett Getter” is that the big guest star, Shannon Sharpe, fit in perfectly. There was an initial awkward “The football guy Shannon Sharpe???” which turned into a horrific pun joke, but overall, the extroverted Sharpe made perfect sense for a ridiculous alien bounty hunter, and made it work.
The B-plot brought in the other main characters. Steve accidentally puts on a pair of Hayley's underwear that, alongside Klaus, he determines gives him good luck throughout the day. This works well for Steve until Snot steals it. Hayley, in her best (only?) moment of the series, explains the power of the placebo effect to Steve using a Smurfs reference…and then goes to beat the shit out of Snot and take her lucky underwear back.
Part of the reason that American Dad worked so well tonight was that it used a variety of different styles of humor. Shannon Sharpe's pun hit on awkward humor and the response to awkward humor (something Francine's similar pun last week did well). Of course there was the typical clever lines, my two favorites comprising the “Stray observations”. Or there was the repetitive weirdness of Francine's creative writing class, like a hot summer sidewalk. I don't recall any cutaways, but there was certainly shock humor, with Sharpe getting shot, and Roger already having been dissected. The last led into the weirdest joke of the night, an extended montage to “Yakkity Sax” of Stan and Francine trying to fit Roger's viscera back in his body properly. This was the kind of joke that Family Guy tries to do all the time, but American Dad really pulled it off, succeeding both with the shock joke of the guts to “wacky” music, and working as an homage to the form.
One of the weird things about discussion American Dad right now is that the production and airing orders are so hopelessly confused that it's difficult to tell if American Dad is on a hot streak or if it's just getting lucky. The presence of Hayley, but not Jeff, in this episode seems to imply that it's from before the wedding at the start of Season 6, so perhaps this episode was produced two years ago, and last week's also-great episode was produced two months ago. Or vice versa. So I'd love to sit here and say “American Dad is fantastic this season!” but it's possibly that Fox is just burning off episodes it thinks aren't any good…which would be ridiculous, because yeah, whatever the production order of these, American Dad is really good right now.
“You are a complicated man, Smith, I would love to do mushrooms with you.”
“All right, Stan, don't make a scene. Just say something witty and exit on the laugh……SO JEALOUS!”