Monday, September 28, 2009

Pilot Review: The Cleveland Show

The Cleveland Show (FOX)
Premiered September 27 at 8:30pm

It’s very easy to determine whether you’ll like “The Cleveland Show.” If you’re a “Family Guy” fan, it’s a safe bet that you will. If you don’t, well, you’re pretty much out of luck. I fall very strongly in the latter category, though I tried my best to give this show a fair shot. I really don’t see the reasoning behind shows that go out of their way to purposefully offend someone when it’s hardly germane to the plot, something that both “Family Guy” and its spin-off do extensively. Sometimes it doesn’t even make any sense, like when a discussion between Cleveland and his son about homosexuality leads Cleveland to point out Gene Hackman as an example of a gay actor. It’s a careless effort to provoke and be controversial just for the sake of it, which for me indicates that there’s something missing that needs to be compensated for on the show. The two series are also both very big on blatant, in-your-face, repeated “did-you-see-this” humor, and that’s another aspect that really gets my blood boiling. The pilot of “The Cleveland Show” didn’t drive me to as great a point of anger as when I watched the “Family Guy” episodes submitted for Emmy consideration, but that’s only a small victory for the new series. The fact that “Family Guy” has a talking baby necessitates a similar phenomenon on this show, and in this case it’s a talking bear, which is pretty ridiculous. That’s the point, of course, and therefore I won’t even bother degrading the boundary-pushing edginess on which this show prides and carries itself. Basically, it’s exactly what you’d expect. I wasn’t expecting anything remotely good.

How will it work as a series? There’s definitely enough material, and fans clearly liked Cleveland enough to merit giving him his own series. He’s got his son, his newfound family, his bunch of new friends, and therefore I think he’s all set to go around offending people and getting in ridiculous situations that some people seem to find funny. It’s not a show I want to watch, but I think it’s exactly what “Family Guy” fans will appreciate.
How long will it last? It’s nestled very tightly in between two beloved long-running FOX animated comedies. “The Simpsons” is entering its 21st season, and “Family Guy” is on number 8. Even the less popular “American Dad” made it to a fifth season, and I think the idea of having a two-hour comedy block on Sunday nights is good for FOX, and with the departure of “King of the Hill,” look no further than this show. It could go on for years (the horror).

Pilot grade: F