TBS has done it again. They saved Cougar Town from cancellation. Now, they’ve done it with one of Fox’s animated sitcoms. Wait, what? They’re saving one of the seriously long in the tooth Fox cartoons, but they opted not to save Happy Endings? Urge to kill, rising.
Getting back on topic, Seth MacFarlane’s nearly decade-long stranglehold on Fox’s “Animation Domination” Sunday night lineup just got a little bit weaker. According to The Hollywood Reporter, American Dad will switch networks in 2014, airing its 10th season in 2013/2014 on Fox and premiering a 15-episode 11th season on TBS in late 2014.
Late 2014? That’s pretty dang far down the road. Why are they telling us about this now? Because animation shows such as these typically operate on a year-ahead of production schedule meaning they needed to know soon whether or not they would be doing any more episodes beyond the upcoming season.
American Dad was created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker, and Matt Weitzman. It premiered on Fox in 2005 and has aired 154 episodes across 9 seasons. The show centers around conservative CIA agent Stan Smith and his homemaker wife, liberal activist daughter, effeminate son, an alien named Roger, and a former German skier named Klaus whose consciousness has been transplanted into the body of a goldfish. The show’s initial concept was to skewer conservatism at a time of immense jingoism during the Bush administration in the United States. However, it has evolved since then to playfully subvert family sitcom conventions and take target at any number of pop culture properties, with the show’s central conflict between Stan and his liberal daughter having now shifted to be between the alien Roger (like Alf on steroids) and, well, pretty much anyone. At one point, there were those who would argue American Dad had evolved to be a more disciplined, funnier, and generally superior show to MacFarlane’s better known Family Guy.
On one hand, this move to a new network is actually not that big of a deal. The show will continue to be produced by 20th Century Fox, and it will continue to air encores of its newest episodes on Adult Swim. It’s just that those first run episodes will now air on TBS, which, like Adult Swim, is another Turner-owned network. In fact, the show has already been in bed with Turner for a while now since TBS airs syndicated reruns of American Dad on weekdays and Adult Swim airs reruns on weeknights and Saturdays. So, TBS is kind of doing the same thing Comedy Central did with Futurama a couple of years ago by ordering new episodes to supplement the old ones it currently re-runs. It’s a risk, since new episodes of American Dad have pretty much always been paired with new episodes of Family Guy. However, TBS has been showing Family Guy re-runs for years. So, maybe it will just pair new American Dad episodes with old Family Guy episodes. Or could they be looking to add additional original animated programming because an American Dad with Cougar Town pairing would make no sense?
On the other hand, American Dad was the very first show to be launched under Fox’s “Animation Domination” line-up, premiering at the same time that Family Guy returned from its brief cancellation. Since then, “Animation Domination” has really just been the night of the Seth MacFarlane comedies, that old war horse The Simpsons, and whatever else Fox is trying that season. Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory are two shows which were short-lived in the line-up, and The Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show was recently canceled after 4 seasons. Thankfully, the gloriously sublime Bob’s Burgers has challenged all of them in recent seasons for the title of best animated sitcom on TV, and recently started airing re-runs on Adult Swim.
So, this is the end of an era, and it is worth noting that Family Guy’s future beyond the upcoming season is not guaranteed. It’s been assumed Fox will basically never cancel that show, but with his increasingly busy schedule could MacFarlane finally follow through on his oft-mentioned wish to end Family Guy? If he does, what would become of “Animation Domination?” Could Fox be planning a move away from its long-standing solid 2+ hours of animated programming on Sunday nights? Or are there new animated shows they are itching to add to the rotation?
What say you? Does this barely even qualify as news? Or are you quietly whispering that as much as you like American Dad maybe they should just let it die at this point (well, if so, speak up because the rest of us can’t hear you)? Tell us about it in the comments.