American Dad! Volume 7

Cult cartoon hits a new high with its sixth season, but does this DVD set do it justice?

The animated adventures of CIA agent Stan Smith and his extended family may have been running since 2005, but based on this seventh DVD volume (confusingly, home to the entirety of the show's sixth season) it's showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed, for my money, the 19 episodes in this three-disc set include some of the very best in the show's history - proving that American Dad! is just at confident in exploring the psychology of its characters as it is in making jokes about farts.

Here's what's on offer...

100 A.D. - The show's 100th episode. Hayley and Jeff elope and Stan puts up a $10,000 reward to anyone who can stop them. Also, 100 characters are killed off!
Son of Stan - Roger is still on Hayley and Jeff's trail, and Stan and Francise clone Steve to see who's parenting style is best.
Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls - Stan tries to create the best Halloween attraction on the block using five serial killers.
Stan's Food Restaurant - Stan lives out yet another life-long dream, while Steve tries to hook up with the new school slut.
White Rice - Francise learns that Stan has been using hypnosis to supress her memories of when she was a stand-up comedian.
There Will be Bad Blood - Stan learns the shocking truth about his 'poor' half-brother Randy.
The People vs Martin Sugar - One of Roger's aliases goes on trial and Stan is selected for jury duty in the same case.
For Who the Sleigh Bell Tolls - It's all out war with the denizens of the North Pole after Steve accidentally shoots Santa.
Fartbreak Hotel - Francine creates a new life for herself when the family are forced to move into a hotel due to Roger's lethal gas.
Stanny Boy and Frantastic - Stan and Francine makes friends with a younger couple with a fondness for extreme sports.
A Piñata Named Desire - When Stan's awful acting results in the deaths of his fellow CIA agents during an undercover operation, Roger offers to help him out with acting lessons.
You Debt Your Life - Stan disowns Roger after repaying the 'life-debt' he owed the alien lodger.
I Am the Walrus - Stan tries to reassert his dominance in the family after Steve is the first person to finish a family meal.
School Ties - Roger sells a US senator's teenage daughter to a drug dealer after Stan makes him enroll in a private school.
License to Till -Roger and Klaus try and transform Steve into a 'cool kid', while Stan and Francise compete at pranking each other.
Jenny Frömdabloc - Roger assumes a new female identity to cheer up Snot by pretending to be in love with him. But things take a turn for the worse when he and Snot have sex!
Home Wrecker - A home makeover leads Stan and Francine to divide the house in half.
Flirting with Disaster - Francine gets a job at Stan's office and finds herself the centre of attention with his colleagues.
Gorillas in the Mist - Stan and Steve become best friends, leading to a crisis at gorilla enclosure at the local zoo.

Picture: Despite the fact that this was the first full season of American Dad! to be broadcast in high-definition, Fox still hasn’t bothered to release the show on Blu-ray. However, the hi-def widescreen source material ensures that this is easily the best the show has ever looked on DVD.

While the three-disc set still squeezes six or seven episodes onto each disc, the anamorphic 1.78:1 transfers are simply magnificent. Colours are brilliantly realised and completely stable, edge delineation is wonderfully crisp and sharp, banding is kept to a minimum and there’s very little in the way of compression artefacting. Outside of a HD release, this is undoubtedly the best the show will ever look.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: All 19 episodes features Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks and deliver exactly what you’d expect from a TV series. There’s really not too much in the way of dynamic surround effects or room-rattling bass to get excited about, but the tracks do an excellent job with the all-important dialogue and scores. Movement across the front stereo spread is well-balanced and feels extremely natural.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: While it appears that the days when we’d get audio commentaries for every episode of the show are long gone, this latest three-disc set still manages to deliver a reasonable selection of bonus features.

The most ubiquitous are the deleted scenes – 15 on the first disc, 20 on the second and 22 on the third. All told there’s about 36-minutes of bonus footage to work through, most of it cut purely for timing reasons rather than concerns about the quality of the material. Only eight of the set’s 19 episodes benefit from audio commentaries this time around – 100 A.D., Stan’s Food Restaurant, There Will be Bad Blood, For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls, A Piñata Named Desire, I Am the Walrus, Jenny Frömdabloc and Gorillas in the Mist.

The majority of the chat-tracks feature various members of the cast and crew and prove just as entertaining/informative as ever. However, two offer something a little different. The commentaries for A Piñata Named Desire and Jenny Frömdabloc are provided by PhD students from ‘The Interdisciplinary Collective for American Dad! Studies’ who provide no end of amusement as they start critically dissecting the episodes in order to demonstrate how it explores topics likes gender roles and contemporary American politics.

The third disc also serves up an 8-minute tribute to Patrick Stewart featuring members of the cast and crew, including the legendary thespian himself, and a 14-minute panel that followed a preview screening of For Whom the Sleight Bell Tolls at the 2012 Comic-Con.
Extra rating: 3/5

We say: As American Dad! goes from strength-to-strength, so does the show's treatment on DVD. A must-own for fans.

20th Century Fox, R2 DVD, £28 approx, On sale May 14