THE CLEVELAND SHOW: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
With the success of “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” it is time for another animated show for Fox’s Sunday night line-up. The minor “Family Guy” character of Cleveland Brown is plucked from the Drunken Clam in Quahog to get his own spin-off. Returning to his home town, Cleveland marries his high school sweetheart and struggles to raise his son and her out-of-control children.
WHAT I LIKED
Cleveland Brown was one of my least-favorite characters on “Family Guy,” so I was instantly skeptical about him getting his own series. However, MacFarlane and company have managed to build a decent series around him and his antics.
What makes Cleveland work as a centerpiece to this series is that he’s not just the token black dude (voiced by a white guy) in an animated series. They actually give him more depth and humor. While in Quahog, Cleveland was the nice guy in a field of psychopaths, he is given a chance to grow here. Of course, take that term “growing” with a grain of salt because it is, in fact, a raunchy animated series.
“The Cleveland Show” isn’t just a black version of “Family Guy.” Sure, you have the crazy kids that offer the most comedy, but it’s not just a rehash of Stewie and Brian. Cleveland Jr. plays a little too much like Chris Griffin, but the slutty daughter Roberta who is dating the white sleaze named Federline (chuckle, chuckle) and Rallo are at least slightly different if not still knock-offs of stereotypes.
On the whole, I found myself laughing at this series more than I thought I would. It’s still not at the level of “Family Guy” or “American Dad” (and I don’t think it ever will get there), but it’s entertaining. Like most of MacFarlane’s stuff, it’s at its best when it’s breaking taboos and making the viewer feel uncomfortable.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s several forced elements to the first season that you get with any spin-off. There’s a bear family on the block which works about as well as the dinosaurs in the “Dilbert” comic strip. (You don’t remember the Dilbert dinosaurs? Well, there’s a reason you don’t.) Also, while it’s a joke that this is the “Jeffersons” version of “Family Guy’s” “All in the Family,” it plays a bit too much to that joke. In some ways, it just seems that Seth MacFarlane and company had a whole trunk of racial jokes, so they spun off their black character so they could eventually use them.
The first season comes with a four-disc that includes commentary on select episodes, a “ Meet Cleveland” featurette, a table read of “Brotherly Love,” “deleted scenes, “Get Your Hump On” music video and the making of “Get Your Hump On.” Also, like the other series from Seth MacFarlane, “The Cleveland Show” includes uncensored audio and scenes for the season… if it’s that important to hear Cleveland Brown say “fuck” a lot.
Also included in the set is a bonus disc of “Clips to Go,” which feature clips from the series that can be transferred to your portable player via iTunes.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who can’t get enough of Seth MacFarlane’s animated shows.