Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yuletide TV Day 11: American Dad!

Series: American Dad! 

Episode: S5E9 "Rapture's Delight"

Original airdate: December 13, 2009

Santa? Alien Santa

Other holidays mentioned: None

Availability: Netflix and Hulu Plus

Unique Christmas Story:
The phrase "War on Christmas" gets thrown around a lot, especially by Fox News nowadays, but this Christmas episode of the under-appreciated American Dad! takes that phrase literally.

Many of the shows I have covered so far have featured Santa in some capacity, but few have taken on the man who is the real reason to celebrate the holiday, Jesus Christ. Not, so with American Dad! Seth MacFarlane has never been one to shy away from any touchy subject, so a Christmas episode based around the second coming of Christ and his war against the Anti-Christ isn't too absurd coming from him.  

"Rapture's Delight" is unlike any Christmas episode I had ever seen before and is all the better for it. The story is divided in two. The first half deals with Stan griping about Chreasters (another subject a surprsingly few number of shows have taken a stab at addressing) and warning about the Rapture. It's overzealous WASPiness that is typical Stan behavior, until the Rapture actually happens while Stan and his wife are having sex in the church closet.

Stan tries to deal with being left behind, while Francine tries to deal with Stan's overbearing Christianity. She takes solace in a stranger she meets at a diner who turns out to be Jesus. He has returned to Earth to wage war against the Anti-Christ, and asks Francine to be his girlfriend.

The second half of the episode fast-forwards seven years to the end of Armageddon. Jesus, who looks like this:
This is how I like my Jesus. Bad. Ass.
seeks Stans, now with a hook hand and glass eye, to help save Francine from the Anti-Christ.
What follows is an amazing riff on post-apocalyptic 80's movies as Stan and Jesus make their way to Francine.

The Anti-Christ turns out to be a cross between Bizarro Superman and Jim Carrey's Riddler, simultaneously over-the-top and slightly sinister. He is the opposite of Jesus in every way. Jesus was a carpenter so the Anti-Christ is unable to construct a good trap to hold his prisoners. Again, it's absurd, but it's an absurdity that works.

Like most of the episodes I've written about so far, American Dad! manages to squeeze a little heart out of its left-field approach to Christmas. The final moments may feel a little trite, and call to attention a whole mess of questions about every episode of the show moving forward, but it works surprisingly well for an episode that feels like it could very easily have been a flop.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Unique Christmas Message:
God pays twice as much attention on Christmas.

I go from a War on Christmas, to Christmas during wartime.

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