American Dad: Since I started reviewing American Dad and getting back into the show, I've heard people declaring Roger to be little short of the greatest comic character in recent history. Even our illustrious commenter SarCCastro says so, and he's arguably The Tick's greatest guest star ever. But… I haven't seen it. I mean, there have been bits and pieces this season, but Roger's generally been used for shock value. He dresses as bizarre characters and sticks random things in his butt. Which is not to say that I haven't enjoyed him, but rather, that he hasn't blown me away just yet.
This was the Roger showcase I'd been waiting for, where he gets the chance to be shocking and witty, as well as using his character costumes to fantastic effect. Steve's friend Snot is obsessed with Hayley, who, being recently and occasionally happily married, isn't interested. In order to break him out of his rut, Steve convinces Roger to play a teenaged girl who's interested in Snot. Naturally, Roger goes too far, and it's fantastic.
It all comes down to a stress ball, really, for both the plot and several of the best jokes. Roger walks into the house dressed as a corporate executive, squeezing a stress ball. On its own, it's a great visual gag, but it turns into him being self-aware and making fun of the character, a joke at Fox's expense (Sons of Tuscon? Was that a thing? I remember the name, so it was a thing, I guess…), a plot point about Snot's nominal virginity, and then a fantastic credits gag, of the sort that isn't usually used on Animation Domination. A B-plot involving Stan and Francine acting out '60s sitcoms and Stan being unable to hold his martinis is trifling, but fortunately, it never attempts to be anything more than that trifle. This was as good as I've seen American Dad. A
Family Guy: While I thought that last week's Family Guy was something of a return to form, this episode was closer to a modern Simpsons episode in certain ways—aping the form of the classics, while not quite getting it right. Still good—not great.
Lois' sister Carol just had her ninth husband walk out on her, so she moves in with the Griffins, quickly falling for a new man, who happens to be Mayor Adam West. Lois doesn't want Carol to let her low self-esteem push her into another failed relationship, so Lois works to sabotage it. This works, she feels guilty, and she realizes that since her sister supported her, she should support Carol. There's some decent, if uninspired, character stuff here. But, as ever, the character stuff exists primarily to hang the comedy on.
And, in this episode, we're back to five-jokes-per-minute Family Guy. Even though many of the jokes don't land—a cutaway to a boring German talk show-host is a joke that's been tired for years if not decades—enough attempts do that the episode generally works. Some of the best jokes come from Peter trying to build a childhood fraternal relationship with Mayor West, as they dash outside to fight about the rules to made-up games or ride bikes really quickly together. It's actually kind of sweet, while also using the ironic distance and fast pace that makes Family Guy work when it works best. Maybe it says something about how Family Guy has been so unimpressive to me recently, but getting back to the constant jokes instead of the uninspired sentimentality is a good thing in my book. B
The Cleveland Show: Tonight's Cleveland Show didn't necessarily transcend its form, but it did about as well as it could, given the inherent limitations that the show seems to put on itself. OK, given that this show is like a leisurely Family Guy, given that very few of the characters get past one dimension, let alone two, given that it has very little sense of place or relationship, given all that's wrong with the show, there were still some little bits and pieces that made me laugh as much as anything tonight.
Donna's baby daddy swings by to get an alimony check, which he declares is the second-best job in the world. The first? A cutaway to a scientist saying “In this experiment, we will be testing the effects of massive amounts of high-quality marijuana on a man's ability to play video games while having sex.” I'll put that gag up against American Dad's “Hardcore B.F. Weekend” T-shirt for the best of the night. There's also a great variation on the normal Cleveland Show sense of humor, as Cleveland tries to sneak too much food into the movies. He gets surprised, and it turns into a visual gag, as all the food falls out. What makes it work? A table and a waiter, who asks “Are you ready to order?” to which Cleveland, disgruntled, responds, “We're gonna need a minute.”
In short, this is the kind of episode that Cleveland tries to be. Some of you in comments have suggested that, even if Cleveland were firing on all cylinders, I wouldn't like it. And that's partially true. I wouldn't necessarily seek this episode out or recommend that anyone watch it instead of something else. But on the other hand, it's one of the rare Cleveland episodes that I'm not sorry I watched. B-
- “Are you digging for my heart in there?”
- “Hardcore B.F. Weekend”
- “Oh god…” Both Steve and Hayley say that in response to Snot's wooing of Hayley, a nice reminder of how siblings can be very alike.
- “You get to go to Forever 21.” “Eeeee! Cigarette jeans!”
- “We stayed up all night, talking about our hopes and dreams. And then I f***ed her!”
- “Had to throw a couple cats.”
- “There Is No God” “He's got red eyes from smoking weed.” The Principal was in fantastic form tonight.
- “I'm sorry our horse-for-two costume freaked him out, Mrs. S.”
- “I can move really, really fast.”
- “Only circles can fit through that rectangular doorway!”
- “The second one's easier cause of toes.”
- “LOOK WHO THE F***'S TALKING!” I'm not a huge fan of the anti-Meg jokes, but this one worked.
- “Carol. I wanna make this a night you'll never forget.”
- “Peter, I'm gonna go pick up Stewie. I'll be back in five or 10 minutes.” “Well, which is it?”
- “She says that to Meg a lot, so that's not good.”
- “Peter.” “Lois.” “God.” “Allah.”
- “Aww, I wanted that one.”
- “Good luck. Hope you like weird boobs.”
- “That's because I never told you. Remember?” “Oh yeah.”
- “That genie was right. Salty meat-sweat was a bad wish.”
- “We're gonna make him pa-ay! We're gonna make him pa-ay!”
- Snoop Dogg on a giraffe. Because why the fuck not? Excellent.
- “Aw man, that's a dude!”
- “Tony Hawk said he was gonna show her a backside ollie. But we all know what that means.”