Tuesday, September 27, 2011

American Dad! gets into "Hot Water"

     On the season premiere of FOX's American Dad, "Hot Water," Stan (Seth MacFarlane) gets super stressed out because of his very tight schedule. Principal Lewis (Kevin Michael Richardson) suggest that Stan get a hot tub, and while Stan is reluctant at first, he sees one he really likes. Unfortunately, he chooses an evil hot tub (voiced by Cee Lo Green), and begins partying all the time. Francine (Wendy Schaal) goes along with it for awhile, but ends up leaving Stan over the warm water. But the hot tub will not stop until Lewis, Francine, and Peter are dead.

     It is not unusual for Seth MacFarlane to parody something. It's a trope he uses quite often in his various animated series. "Hot Water" is no different, tackling Little Shop of Horrors. The shop Stan buys the hot tub from is "Little Shop of Hot Tubs." The hot tub mimicks Stan's voice to lure Francine to her doom. It also eats Lewis, and ends up killing Stan. The music is a completely different style, but the parallels are so close that, when a customer walks into the hot tub store, I expect him to say "I couldn't help noticing that strange and unusual hot tub in the window." That never happened, but it easily could have been a deleted scene, so much does the episode relate to the musical.

     Interestingly, two main characters die in this episode of American Dad! Both Francine and Stan bite the dust before the end credits roll. "Hot Water" is not the first time that this happens in an episode, but it is a bit unusual because, by next week, they will be fine again. That is not to say that American Dad! does not allow character growth. It married Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane) off and that stuck. But occasionally, in event episodes such as this one, the continuity of the series is abandoned.

     It's a pretty trippy episode. Besides a 1970's era hot tub, which somehow has more advanced electronics, a fact that does not go unnoticed by the characters, but there is plenty of singing and hallucinations. Most of the main cast gets to participate in at least one song. There is no B story, so there is plenty of time to squeeze in several numbers. Over all, it's a pretty cool experiment.

     Cee Lo provides not only the singing voice for the hot tub, but also appears live, unanimated, in several narration shots during "Hot Water." He is not the only one famous to make an appearance, though. One of the party girls that Stan hangs out with is voiced by Gabourey Sidibe, who starred in Precious and is now on Showtime's The Big C.

     American Dad! airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

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