American Dad Season 8 Review “Blood Crieth Unto Heaven”

It’s always exciting when a show takes on an audacious formal experiment, and “Blood Crieth Unto Heaven,” an episode entirely in the form of a stage play, certainly qualifies as “audacious.” It makes sense that American Dad would do something like this, though; it’s a show that trades on weirdness and formal inventiveness. If I have one concern about the episode as a whole, it’s how it would play to someone who hadn’t seen August: Osage County, the Pulitzer Prize winning play which “Blood Crieth” is largely parodying. I was lucky enough to see a production of it a while ago, and so I understand exactly the kind of large-scale family melodrama being sent up here, but I wonder how it was received by others.

Not that the parody was the only thing to be enjoyed here; Patrick Stewart shows up at the beginning of each act, in the flesh, and gives us a delightfully silly version of himself, which pairs nicely with his character of Avery. And the contents of the play itself are fun in their exaggerated melodrama, and out-of-place story continuity. (Hayley and Avery? Where’s Jeff?) Roger is especially fun as Edna, whose favorite drink is water, and who resorts to drastic measures to secure the love of Avery.

The real joy in this episode, though, is the constant tidbits of stagecraft we see. The pool is a great sight gag, as were the giant clothes jumping into the suitcase. And sure, Stan’s flashbacks bent the reality of the stage beyond practicality, and so broke the rules a little, but we always got things like Stan huffing and puffing after running back to the main action, and the dramatic spotlights. The dialog, too, was perfectly silly in its over-the-top staginess and melodrama. (See: Avery’s breakdown, or Klaus’s asides and ending monologue.) All in all, “Blood Crieth Unto Heaven” is just proof that American Dad is one of the most interesting and unusual animated shows on television today.