Cast member Scott Grimes, co-creators Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman and Seth MacFarlane

Today I’m at Toronto’s Pearson airport, en route to Yellowknife, Ice Pilots NWT country. The History Television series returns for a second season in January. Hey, any excuse to jump back into a DC3.
All this flying to eventually go flying means I’ll miss tonight’s episode of American Dad, something I make a point of doing every week anyway. But just because I’m missing it doesn’t mean you have to watch it. Critics were “treated” to a table read of tonight’s holiday-themed outing and it was relentlessly withering. I’m hoping somebody at Fox stepped up and called these guys on this crap but, if you choose to watch it, brace yourselves just in case. Below is my report from press tour.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA–Ho-ho-no! Hide the kids! Elves are slaughtered like baby seals in a not-so-festive scene coming up this season on American Dad. Critics got a sneak peak at “For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls” at the end of a lunch time table read Monday at press tour. The entire cast, including executive producer Seth MacFarlane, ripped through most of the script, which marks the 100th episode of the series.
At one point in the episode, Stan (the jut-jawed, trigger-happy American Dad) gives his son Steve a quick lesson on gunman ship:

Steve, shooting a gun is like being intimate with a woman. First, you inspect it to make sure it’s clean. Then you grab it on the butt and jam the magazine in. If it doesn’t fit, make it.

And so it went. As much sex and violence as censors will allow, crammed into a cartoon. Then, on monitors, we watched in horror as dozens of elves were machine gunned to death in the snow.
The credits rolled, and critics sat in stunned silence. Even MacFarlane made a few cracks about the unease in the room.
As Linus might say, “And that’s what Christmas is all about in 2010, Charlie Brown.”
While American Dad fits with Fox’s Sunday “animation domination” schedule, the edgy animated series seems suddenly out of step with the new wave of family comedies that found audiences last season.

MacFarlane has become a big player in the TV game, inking a reported five year, $100 million deal with Fox to keep cranking out Family Guy and other projects. As another Canadian critic in the room pointed out, he’s also a terrific contributor on Real Time with Bill Maher, weighing in with his own opinions and getting out from behind his many characters.
He also has a movie in the works, but is tight-lipped on details on the live-action project. “It’s about a man and his teddy bear,” is all he’d share at press tour.
After the reading, I asked MacFarlane what “Canadian Dad” might look like if he were ever to spin off that series. Said MacFarlane: “He’s probably be a polite, easy-going guy with great health care and a low crime rate.”

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