American Dad: Criss-Cross Applesauce: The Ballad of Billy Jesusworth Review

It’s nothing but net in an episode of American Dad’ that must obviously be about basketball!

This American Dad review contains spoilers.

American Dad Season 12 Episode 17

“Stan, I don’t know basketball, but I can tell by the way that you’re talking about it that you’re not good.”

I hope none of you guys had money on Criss-Cross Applesauce in the coming season because that guy is out. Hopefully no one’s losing a mortgage on that one.

It’s still a little bewildering that these TBS seasons of American Dad are as long as they are. This is a show that catapulted around on FOX for years with an inconsistent episode count and even more inconsistent schedule. So as this season of 22 begins to somewhat wind down, it’s a great relief to get episodes as fun as this so far down the line.

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A good chunk of this episode sees Roger and Stan opposing each other, and on the basketball court of all places. Stan and Roger are two terribly fragile individuals, so when both of their egos take a hit — with Stan being called old and an injured Roger not being able to keep up on the court — they both react in satisfying ways. While the initial conceit here might be to bolster Roger’s confidence and get his game back in order, in perfect Roger fashion he manages to betray Stan once he’s back in shape.

Looking past all of the Roger material this week (which is something that I never thought I’d say), this episode is basically a glorified excuse to get Steve singing.

Sold. And by sold, I mean I would buy a release of “Trapped in the Locker” immediately. I’m already upset I can’t be listening to it on loop.

In my book, a winning Steve plot either gets him a) screaming; or b) singing, and this one embraces the latter in an overdue R. Kelly parody by the Smith son. The best thing about all of this is that Steve’s entire side story is told through song, which is a pretty inventive way to unfold a complicated plot (let alone one that goes to places like murder, infidelity, and a re-introduction of Stelio Kontos like this one does). The storytelling and music more than rise to the occasion and if the show were to turn out a sequel to this idea, I don’t think many fans would take exception.

Whenever Steve isn’t delighting the audience in song, Stan and Roger’s complicated feud continues to evolve. The episode packs in plenty of solid basketball and montage jokes, with a particularly precise soundtrack that does all of the right things. Admittedly, this story might follow the same trajectory of a lot of Stan and Roger fare, but this one somehow arrives at the conclusion of Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal versus Roger and Steve in a two-on-two competition. That’s not something you get every episode. Plus, one of the best visual jokes to come along in a few seasons caps off the episode, acting as a perfect showcase to an episode that’s already thriving with character and energy.

Here’s to hoping that American Dad can maintain this O’Neal-like momentum and end its season on just as high a note as it started.

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Oh, and Buckle’s still keeping busy in Langley!


4 out of 5