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The Cleveland Show: Season 1 (2009)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
Movie Connections:
The Cleveland Show
> The Cleveland Show: Season 1 (2009)
> The Cleveland Show: Season 2 (2010)
Genres:
Animated Comedy, Animated Television, Animation, TV Comedy

5.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 23, 2011
I may be in the minority, but I've never been a huge fan of Family Guy. I can't say anything truly bad about the show and I've watched a handful of episodes in my time, but it's not the kind of show that I'd sit through an entire season of and nor is it the type of show that I'd go out of my way to watch. This is due in large part to the characters, not the style of humor: I like the jokes, but I can't stand the "cast" of characters who are telling said jokes. So, I didn't have high expectations for The Cleveland Show when I saw it pop up on Netflix, but I went ahead and checked it out anyway just to see what it was all about.

The season kicks off in Quahog, home of Family Guy, where we learn that Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry) and his wife have gotten divorced. This prompts Cleveland and his dimwitted son Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson) to leave town and move on to the greener pastures of Stoolbend, Virginia. There, Cleveland reunites with his high school crush Donna (Sanaa Lathan), and the two eventually get married. Cleveland takes on the role of dad to Donna's children - pint-sized wise-cracker Rallo (also voiced by Mike Henry) and teenage Roberta (Reagan Gomez-Preston) - while also meeting some of Stoolbend's colorful characters, such as redneck Lester (Kevin Michael Richardson), frat-boy Holt (Jason Sudeikis), and Tim the Bear (Seth MacFarlane). From there on out, it is your typical sitcom: every episode finds Cleveland and / or one of his kids in a new situation that they are forced to find a way out of, and the episodes are usually wrapped up with some sort of positive message... and lots of cutaway gags.

The style of humor found in The Cleveland Show is not too terribly different from the style found in Family Guy, so you may already have a valid opinion on whether or not you're going to like the show. It is rude, oftentimes crude, full of pop culture references and cutaway gags, and topped off with just enough absurd comedy to make you wonder whether you need to put down the bowl or light up another one. The difference, in my opinion, is the characters. They seem much more believable, and though they are obviously exaggerated, you can easily identify with at least some of them. This goes a long way in the entertainment department, and it kept me interested thoughout the entire season.

Also aiding the show, in my humble opinion, is the way that the creators cut back on the absurdity. There are no talking dogs and no evil genius babies, and the plots center around mostly legitimate issues: how to tell your kids that you ran over their pet, awkward family issues when celebrating the holidays together, things of that nature. Granted, there are still a handful of absurd elements (there is a talking bear, after all), but they cut back on them tremendously and this definitely aided my enjoyment of the show. This makes the show feel less like a Saturday morning cartoon and more like a genuine sitcom, so it got a huge thumbs up from me.

I know that there are a lot of Family Guy fans out there, but personally, I found this spin-off to be better than the show that spawned it. It is much more firmly rooted in reality while retaining the goofy style of humor, and personally, that little alteration went a long way in keeping me hooked. I went through the entire first season in just a couple of days, and I'm already ready to get through the second season. 9/10.
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