“Hayley: Why did you invite both of us? / Roger: Gee, I don’t know. You think it might have something to do with me being drunk all the time? I’m an alcoholic. I have a problem. I’m just not ready to deal with it yet. But I will. I promise. No more empty promises. No sir. Not from this alcoholic.”– Hayley & Roger in “Chimdale”
Welcome back, everyone, for another in-depth discussion of the funniest animated comedy, American Dad. I wanted to get this blog post ready and submitted to coincide with the release of the 300th episode of American Dad, airing on TBS September 14, 2020. This blog, as I have mentioned before, is the second of what will be three parts. The first blog post, American Dad Rewind – Part ONE, which I published a couple of weeks ago, covered seasons 1-5. Today, we are back with the Seasons 6-10 and the top episode from each season. So far, we have discussed what I argue are the best episodes from each of the first five seasons. For a list of those, please go back and read Part ONE, because we are going to jump right in and begin with Season 6. Buckle up, hold tight, and put your sunglasses on; we are speeding back to American Dad!
Every episode of American Dad opens with Stan waking up, getting ready for the day while singing the theme song. It’s a grand opening and has been pretty much the same since around the third or fourth season. The best part of American Dad’s beginning is when Stan is driving to the CIA, and Roger appears in the passenger seat. Stan is singing the theme song, but Roger joins him, and then Stan pushes him back down, thus causing the car to crash. That might seem “basic,” but what I like about it is that Roger is in a different persona each time. I always try to guess, as a new episode starts, which older persona might appear. It goes to show, Roger is the center of this show, and, as a fan, the more Roger in an episode, the better it is!
Season SIX, Episode 7: “The People versus Martin Sugar” (Honorable Mention for Episode 4: “Stan’s Food Restaurant”)
“Roger: People forgive you if you’re likeable, and let’s face it I’m the most charming S.O.B. anyone’s ever met.”– Roger in “People versus Martin Sugar”
Season Six of American Dad is another solid season with great episodes that take the characters in different directions. As you may remember from my first blog, I am a huge fan of Roger centric storylines. My number one episode is Roger centric, and “When Roger is the defendant in a trial where Stan is the foreman, Stan is finally in a position to make Roger accountable for his misdeeds.” This episode presents one of Roger’s funniest personas, Martin Sugar. While the A-plot is fantastic and centers around Stan trying to get Roger to respect the law, the B-plot is terrible. The episode is a perfect example of how, with a little tweaking, the entire episode would be off the wall excellent. Still, it is slightly brought down by a poor B-plot centering around Jeff, Hayley’s boyfriend, and his “chronic” medical issue, but I won’t say any more about it. The fact that I choose this episode as my number one of the season speaks to the well-constructed and funny storyline crafted in the A-plot.
The episode starts with Stan calling the Superior Court of Langley Falls to ask about being put on Jury Service, much to the woman’s annoyance on the phone and his entire family, who just don’t get why he loves jury duty so damn much. It will not take long, but it is soon clear; Stan “loves the law.” Stan is eventually assigned a case, but after an argument with Roger about what he does with his jury duty summons since several of his personas have social security numbers, Roger shows a disregard for the law, which pisses Stan off. When Stan arrives at court, everything changes. He is selected for jury duty and discovers Roger as the defendant. While the A-plot is fantastic, and the B-plot blew it, there was what I like to think of as a C-plot, which arced throughout the episode, which involved Stan asking Francine to take over his Fantasy Basketball team while he was sequestered. Still, when she gives him fantasy advice, he instead has Steve set his lineup, much to Francine’s angst. This arc made up only three scenes, but those scenes crushed the entire B-plot.
“Stan: Where’s Steve? I want to see how my fantasy basketball team’s doing. / Francine: Well, he understood the fantasy part, but had no idea what basketball was. He tried to add three gryphons and an orc to your roster. / Stan: Fucking nerd.”– Stan & Francine in “People versus Martin Sugar”
“Steve: What did Daddy think of my trades?Francine: You hurt your family with what you did, Steve. You made us weaker as a unit.”– Francine & Steve in “People versus Martin Sugar”
What makes the story funny are the scenes featuring Roger trying to get the best of Stan. While Stan begins the trial seeking to make Roger pay for his disrespect of the law, it will always be Roger’s episode. The best part is the trial scene towards the beginning, with quick, funny, and in your face comedy, which is spoofing 12 Angry Men. As the defendant Martin Sugar, Roger is accused of running a horrific sweatshop and fictional daycare. While serving as his own defense attorney, Roger, as Martin Sugar, uses his speaking time in the courtroom to get the jury, judge, and prosecutor to like him through his hilarious personality and outright manipulation. Once Stan uses his manipulative skills to get Roger convicted, the episode takes on a Fugitive spoof as Roger, after being found guilty, escapes his transportation with perfect Roger jokes. Stan must track him down, therefore, making Roger respect the law. The entire storyline is funny, with rapid and fresh jokes and several “asshole” Roger personas. The ending finds Stan, arrested during his pursuit of Roger, standing trial with Roger, now a jury member, and waving to him. This comical action shows that Roger, who now has the legal power, will manipulate the jury to convict Stan since, as he said at the beginning of the episode, you can do anything if you’re likable, and he is freaking likable.
All in all, solid episode of Season Six, although I could have easily selected a few other Roger centered storylines like the Honorable Mention episode “Stan’s Food Restaurant,” which, yet again, had an A-plot centered on Stan and Roger. With Stan always complaining when he eats out, “Roger offers to help Stan live out his dream of opening a restaurant until their different visions for what the eatery should be” causes mayhem, but not before Roger throws out some great comedy. Even so, there are other great episodes this season like, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which is fun and linked to other American Dad Christmas episodes, or “Fartbreak Hotel,” which was one full A-plot that gave each character, mostly Steve, Francine, and Roger, power and funny character arcs, or “Jenny Fromdabloc,” which introduced a new Roger persona who can “move, really fast.” All of these episodes stood out this season and pushed for the number one spot. Great season, fun comedy, and Roger is remaining as consistent as ever!
“Roger: I know the restaurant business. I managed a Hardee’s in Myrtle Beach for three years. Everyone called it “Party Hardee’s” ‘cause of the buttload of drugs I was moving through there. I was “sick”the day of the raid. Got tipped off by this detective whose daughter I saved from drowning. But I can’t go back there, he won’t look the other way again.”– Roger in “Stan’s Food Restaurant”
Season SEVEN, Episode 17: “Ricky Spanish” (Honorable Mention for Episode 10: “Wheels & the Legman and the Case of Grandpa’s Key” and Episode 9: “Stanny Tendergrass”
“Brian Lewis: You got some nerve showing your face around here, Ricky Spanish!”– Brian Lewis in “Ricky Spanish”
I think you know by now that all seasons of American Dad are fantastic. Even with Season Four and Five being my two favorite seasons, with over 90% of the episode being rewatchable, each season crushes the animation comedy game. Season Seven had several episodes that illustrated brilliant writing, were drink spitting funny, but none created a Roger character so fantastically diabolical as “Ricky Spanish.” The character, or persona, of Ricky Spanish, since its iteration, has become one of Roger’s most well-known and feared personas. I mean, I am all about Chex Lemeneux, the Team USA Hockey player, Jennie Gold wedding planner, Bible editor Sydney Hoffman, therapist Dr. Penguin, the Legman, and Kevin Bacon. I promise I will do a top 10 blog soon enough that focuses solely on the best Roger personas. But Ricky Spanish is a monster, and the episode, which has powerful narration by the great Warner Herzog, is freaking fantastic.
Here is the episode summary, “After caterpillars chew holes in most of Roger’s disguises, Roger rediscovers an outfit buried in a trash bag in the back of the closet. But when he walks through town drawing hated stares, he stops at a motel and is assaulted by Brian Lewis and is reminded that he is now Ricky Spanish, the most hated man in town.” American Dad enjoys indulging in the extreme insanity of the Roger changing persona arc of the show. As a loyal fan, I find Roger’s different and elaborate personas enjoyable and consistently fresh when American Dad introduces new ones with each coming episode. “Ricky Spanish” is an episode for all of those curious about what would happen if Roger had a persona so bad that even he forgot about it. Ricky Spanish is that persona, and “Ricky Spanish” is that episode. The entire A-plot focuses on the character’s re-discovery by Roger and Steve’s desire to help Ricky correct his past wrongs by making amends with those he had hurt. Even though Steve believes he is helping him, Roger, as Ricky, is manipulating him to help him commit a crime and, in the end, will leave a new enemy in his wake, Steve, who will go to jail and vows to get back at Ricky for his betrayal. Again, the B-plot was not at the standard set by the A-plot, but it has its moments. It had Stan and Francine, answering a call at the door and meeting Tungi, from Africa whom the Smiths had sent money to over the years. The plot explores Stan and Francine’s initial confusion of who he is, then the excitement of having him around, and finally, their annoyance towards him as they feel he overstayed his welcome, and they attempt to ditch him on no less than two occasions. Overall, fine, but the A-plot steals the show.
Overall, the episode had more than enough of everything a viewer and fan of American Dad could want. It was Roger centric, followed one of his personas, and introduced powerful narration by Herzog to make a substantial and yet, beautiful and poetic commentary on the point of the episodes in its final moments. Honestly, Herzog’s voice is so unique, and I would listen to him narrate pretty much anything. If I were told Herzog was narrating the next Ken Burns’ documentary, I would immediately, and excitedly, sign up for alerts on my phone to know when it aired on PBS. I mean, watch the Mandalorian on Disney+ and examine, with eyes and ears, his scenes with “Baby Yoda not Yoda” and tell me I am wrong. Ok, I should move on from Herzog and back to American Dad. Even though Episode 10: “Wheels & the Legman and the Case of Grandpa’s Key” and Episode 9: “Stanny Tendergrass” deserve recognition and attention as possible number one episodes, Ricky Spanish is too powerful a Roger persona to stand up against. It helps that “Ricky Spanish” has become an iconic episode, and I never once thought of any other episode from Season Seven challenging it for the top spot.
“Roger: Wheels, may I speak with you? Papa Wheelie, why don’t you go fill out your HR forms. Teddy Bonkers will help you. / Stan: Th…the teddy bear? / Roger: Teddy bear?! His name is Theodore Bonkers. He’s not the smartest guy, but he tries harder than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve met Ed Burns. Go talk to him. / Steve: Just go with it.– Roger, Stan & Steve in “Wheels & the Legman and the Case of Grandpa’s Key”
Season EIGHT, Episode 11: “Max Jets”
“Gina: Hands across America, bitches!”– Gina in “Max Jets”
Season Eight is solid, but when I think about it, and those episodes that I argue are rewatchable, ones I could watch dozens of times, only one episode comes to mind for this season, and that’s “Max Jets.” This episode is insane, but I like that it is solely an A-plot, with the entire episode following the whole family as they seek to wreck Roger’s impending wedding to a young waitress named Gina. Roger is presenting himself as the persona of Max Jets, a wealthy older man who enjoys giving the Smiths money and gifts. The episode begins with everyone out to dinner, but Stan is trying to keep the cost down, but Roger tells everyone not to worry about money since his persona of Max Jets is getting out of prison and will shower them with cash. One funny scene follows Roger as he sneaks into prison to assume this identity, just in time to be released. I love it when the guard calls him a model prisoner since “you just slept for six years.”
Once Roger returns home, he gives the family tons of money and gifts, which annoys Klaus, who doesn’t understand the bit, which is brilliant since viewers are thinking the same thing. Then, “while dining out again, Max,” who is now flirting with the waitress Gina, “tells the family that he is donating his wealth to them. As they plan a getaway trip for Spain the next morning, Max shows up with Gina and asks for his money back… After they tell their story of meeting, the family figures that she is a gold digger” who may deny them their inheritance. “While most of the family tries to butter Max up, Stan tells it like it is. Max refuses to believe this and reveals that he built Gina a sound studio in the basement.” Once they get engaged, “the family plots to kill Max” before getting married, but this means killing Roger.
Of course, the episode has many twists and turns as all the Smiths come up with different ways to kill Max but fail miserably and thus do not prevent the wedding. In the end, Roger is killed, with Gina revealing that she’s not in Max’s will, so she is not a gold digger. The revelation that Gina will get nothing, from Max’s after his death, prompts the Smiths to do a celebratory song and dance in excitement for their coming inheritance, which is classic American Dad, and Seth McFarlane. The ending is well done and does not care whether it makes sense, which I appreciate. It turns out Max had a son, Roger, in disguise, and he planned the murder with Gina, who he is having an affair with, and together, they sought to run away. Did that make sense? So, as Max Jets, Roger is murdered by Roger, as Max Jet’s son Jerry, who planned it with Gina, to get Max’s immense wealth. But then Jerry was killed by Gina, who then received the entire fortune. I think the following quote sums up the brilliance and comedic ton of the episode perfectly!
“Hayley: So how could she kill Jerry, who was you, without killing you? / Steve: And how did Max die without you dying? / Roger: Y’know what, I would love…LOVE to explain all of it to you but we’re out of time.”– Roger, Steve & Hayley in “Max Jets”
Season NINE, Episode 9: “Vision: Impossible” (Honorable Mention for Episode 10: “Familyland”)
“Roger: There might be a lesson to learn from this, if I were the kind of guy who could learn lessons. But, lessons are not for me. Lessons are for schoolboys, schoolboys are for me! Red light!”– Roger in “Vision: Impossible”
Going into Season Nine, we are 3 for 3 with Roger centric episodes as winning the top spot, and I will give you a guess whether a Roger centric episode wins this season. Of course, it does! “Vision: Impossible” plays with a few science fiction plot points, and the episode does play out like something you would see in the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Here is the storyline, which does combine both the A & B plots, “Roger tries to get a picture of his crotch at a red light camera but is struck by a truck and lands in the hospital.” Then “following a coma,” where Roger puts on a white beard to match the length of time he has been out, “Roger has a vision of his doctor being fired when he touches him while shaking his hand.”
The episode’s start is hilarious, with Roger walking into the kitchen, hanging balloons, and wishing himself a happy birthday, but thanking Stan and Francine for having surprised him, even though he literally set up all the decorations in front of them, and it’s not his birthday! Classic Roger. It set a perfect tempo for the episode’s length and that Roger will ultimately take his shenanigans way too far! I mean, the reason he ends up trying to take a picture of his crotch at the red-light camera is to capture his happiness of the day since he feels the family doesn’t want to spend time with him. The accident that occurred places Roger in this science fiction path arc, and you won’t find any complaints from me. With electric comedy, large muscle raccoons, and a baby running a hospital, the entire episode hits the right cord. The fact that both the A & B plots link smoothly, nails POP culture comedy with random Bowflex jokes, and that Roger is the center of attention, the episode is by far the best of the season. Also, each member of the Smith’s has solid lines and jokes, including Hayley, who sometimes needs a direct link in a Roger centric arc to excel her character to the fullest extent.
Overall, the scene at the Safety Museum is funny, while some toe the line between smart and mean, but in the end, it’s Roger, as he saves the Smith’s that makes it laugh out loud brilliant. I mean, he drops a Cold Stone Creamy joke that is so random, but funny as hell after he saves them all but takes it too far, as always, when he hits Hayley with a severe burn. The episode has a lot of fun with Roger’s visions and how the family comes to rely on him, but when he loses his visionary power, the entire family has trouble living their lives without checking with him first. Even going as far as losing complete control of their lives without Roger’s input. Lastly, the episode introduced a new character John Q. Mind, going by “Mind Quad,” who is at the hospital and can move things with his mind. He has made a couple of appearances since, but curious how they continue to bring him back. A solid episode that is by far the best of Season Nine of American Dad. As I always say, more Roger, more personas, and the more a jerk, the better!
“Roger: So… can I get an orange juice, or is there a long-ass story about that, too?”– Roger in “Vision: Impossible”
Season TEN, Episode 8: “Morning Mimosa” (Honorable Mention for Episode 1: “Roger Passes the Bar”)
“Roger: Betty Crocker, Famous Amos, John DeLorean. What they have in common? They’re all entrepreneurs whose stories I haven’t fully researched.”– Roger in “Roger Passes the Bar”
Season Ten would bring two episodes very close to taking the prize for my favorite of the season, but for the first time, the episode I feel won the season was NOT a Roger centric episode. The Honorable Mention episode, “Roger Passes the Bar,” is as Roger centric as an episode can be with an A-plot that follows Roger as a bar owner. With the stress of bar ownership taking its toll, Roger decides to sell it and “sells out.” While including hilarious sayings like “Dive on in” and establishing classic Roger sarcasm, as well as insults to both an old woman in a hospital bed and the threat of a brutal yelp review, “Roger Passes the Bar” is one of the funniest episodes of the last few seasons, but unfortunately, could not capture the top spot.
“Roger: If you don’t get that dead lady out of my room, you are going to have what I refer to as a “Yelp disaster”.”– Roger in “Roger Passes the Bar”
It’s wonderfully funny. The B-plot centers around Steve and his friends as they help a beautiful neighbor named Charlotte, voiced by Jane Krokowski, a house-flipper who is secretly manipulating them to do manual labor. “Roger Passes the Bar” has one of the funniest B-plots of the series. Overall, it is an episode that could have easily beaten back some of the top episodes from other seasons. But, with Season Ten, it happened to be going against another episode that brought the star power of two actors whose characters, and rock-solid voice-over performances, raised drinking morning mimosa to a whole new level. In a season with several Roger centric classics and developing lasting personas, in this season, it’s a Steve centric episode that takes home the prize.
“Francine: You know what Trish, “The Sizzle”? Fuck You! [turns to Steve] Sometimes it’s OK to say it. Like now, or when you’re driving.”– Francine in “Morning Mimosa”
This episode is insane in every possible right way. The episode begins with a nice touch. Led by two incredible actors, Casey Wilson & June Diane Raphael, who voice Trish and Suzi, who is also known as “The Sizzle,” are the hosts of a daytime talk show called Morning Mimosa. The A-plot is driven by their love of more than one mimosa, Kelly Clarkson, “raging” out and publicly shaming guests. Here is the overall plot, “Francine enjoys a television show called Morning Mimosa, which treats its guests brutally after getting the audience drunk. Later, she asks Steve to set the table, but when he blows her off for his video game, she unplugs it, prompting him to curse at her.” Francine then refuses to do anything for Steve to teach him a lesson. With the dynamic between Steve and Francine changed, Steve turns to his friends who suggest using YouTube for help to learn to cook and do chores. There, while falling for the pitfalls of snake bite videos, he learned to cook and eventually start a cooking channel. When his YouTube channel blows up with popularity, he is asked to do a segment on Morning Mimosa. As Francine fears, he may not be ready for the Sizzle and Trish, their mimosa-driven rage, or their drunk studio audience.
The episodes A-plot is one of the seasons’ funniest and might be the best overall storyline of this blog. Even though this is not Roger centric, the Steve and Francine dynamic is brilliantly written and structured. Steve and Francine do not usually have any animosity, so throwing them into a mom versus son dynamic made for hilarious antics, especially as Steve started to be self-sufficient, much to Francine’s displeasure. There is no real B-plot, other than Stan who, because of Francine and Steve’s fight, begins to tune people out with the snap of his fingers. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t matter as Francine’s parenting style, and enjoyment of Steve’s early failings take a hilarious center stage.
I have always believed that Steve is at his best when screaming at the absurdity of current circumstances. He wins the episodes and the climax of the episode, which occurs on the Morning Mimosa set, as Trish and the Sizzle turn on him and seek to kill him for lying about being an orphan. As Steve screams and questions what is going on, Francine shows up, Steve is saved, and thus, rebuilding their close mother and son relationship. Tons of laughs, and not that many lines crossed, as is sometimes the problem with American Dad. While the episode began by destroying what was usually a good relationship between Steve and Francine, it ended by rebuilding it by throwing Steve in front of Morning Mimosa and in need of saving. So much comedy, so much brutal fun, and each Smith has their own independent comedic moment that shine.
“Francine: Pretty hot crowd today. / Klaus: Yeah, its maximum mimosa Monday. They’re gonna kill your son.”– Klaus in “Morning Mimosa”
Overall, Season Ten was a great season, and “Morning Mimosa,” as well as “Roger Passes the Bar,” crushed the competition. So, those are my favorite episodes from Seasons Six through Ten of American Dad. Please stay tuned for Part THREE, when I tackle seasons 11 through 15. More American Dad, more Roger and his personas, more insane situations, and more quotes! Enjoy the 300th episode of American Dad on September 14, 2020. Who knows, maybe it will be the number one episode from the current season. Let’s watch and see!
(some quotes and episode summaries found on americandad.fandom.com)