American Dad!: Volume 5

The sun in the sky has a smile on his face and he's shining a salute to the American race...

Comedy is a difficult thing to review. What makes one person roll around laughing on the floor will simply make another roll their eyes. Which makes reviewing something like this fifth volume of episodes from American Dad! pretty difficult. After all, the show has been on the air for five years now, and it wallows in almost exactly the same sense of pop culture-spoofing humour that show creator Seth MacFarlane has been peddling in Family Guy for over a decade now - so chances are, you already know whether this is your kind of thing or not.

So there's really little point in actually reviewing the content of the 14 episodes contained in this three-disc set. Suffice to say that, while you could hardly call it growth, American Dad! continues to develop its stories in ways that feel more satisfying than recent runs of Family Guy have managed. It's still all pretty juvenile stuff - Steve and Roger try their hand at writing a porn film, Stan reveals that he's really bald and Francine gets herself a 'backup husband' in case Stan should ever die while on a mission - but the re-appearance of Stan's dad and a spot of bonding for Stan and Steve while on a road trip demonstrates a little more depth to the characters than Family Guy has ever managed to deliver. Anyway, if you already like the show, you'll have no complaints about this latest batch of episodes.

'Oh say, can you see...'
The same is generally true of the quality of the discs themselves. The episodes themselves are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and are on a par with previous DVD releases in the series. Colours are stable and bright, line fidelity is good and artefacting is kept to a minimum (making them instantly much more appealing than the Freeview TV transmissions you'll have seen in the past). As usual, halos do raise their ugly head from time-to-time, but they aren't a major distraction.

Just as impressive are the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. MacFarlane has always taken particular pride in the musical elements of his cartoons, and the 5.1 audio gives it a lovely, expansive feel that shows up many live-action shows. Foley effects and vocals are also well-rendered and sound about as good as anybody could ever hope for.

Rounding out the set is a fair, but not particularly thrilling collection of extra features. The audio commentaries for each episode prove to be the same mix of background info and annoying in-jokes that fans will be used to from previous releases. The only other bonus features appear on the third disc and take the form of 38 minutes of deleted scenes and a second version of the episode Bar Mitzvah Hustle, this time with forced pop-up trivia.

20th Century Fox, Region 2 DVD, £28 approx, On sale now