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Series premiere: The Cleveland Show

In television on 09/26/2009 at 11:03 am

Series name
The Cleveland Show

Debuts
Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox

Regularly airs
Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox

Premise
The softspoken Cleveland Brown from Family Guy gets divorced returns to his hometown with Cleveland Jr. and marries his high-school sweetheart and becomes step-dad to her two kids. The neighbour is a bear. Who wears a shirt and tie. So you’ll be glad to know it’s animated and that it’s not a real bear. It’s set in Stoolbend. Ha! Made you say Stoolbend! Just tryin to get in the spirit of this thing.

Primary voice cast and crew
Mike Henry (Family Guy) is Cleveland Brown, the star and Rallo, Cleveland’s snarky new young step-son. Henry is also a writer.
Sanaa Lathan (The Family That Preys) is Donna Tubbs, the new wife.
Kevin Michael Richardson (Family Guy, American Dad) is Lester/Cleveland Jr.
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, FlashForward) is Tim the neighbour bear, as well as Family Guy’s Peter, Brian and Stewie. MacFarlane is also writer/producer.

But what do I know anyway? After not having seen the pilot I predict…
I’ll give it a try, but my relationship with the original series, Family Guy, is a tortured one. Or, at least, I’m tortured. The Family Guy jokes, although they can sometimes make me laugh and then hate myself, often appear to be motivated not so much by story and character as by the rule of Because I Can, so vigorously applied by Seth MacFarlane, show exec.

Other reviews
The New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Alan Sepinwall observes that Cleveland, being a comedic straight man, might not be a large enough character to build a series on.

Mary McNamara at the L.A. Times says The Cleveland Show is indeed gentler than Family Guy, but also less funy.

Official website
Basic, but with good video, including enough of the first episode to make me feel more  encouraged to watch.

Twitter
The Cleveland character is guest tweeting on Fox’s Twitter account. Some but not all are search-marked #Cleveland. Sample tweet (in addition to some promo which involves tweets advising that Cleveland’s truck is in various cities with T-shirts to spare): “Cleveland says: Tried to call Donna “Shorty” today, but she didn’t appreciate it and now I’m sleepin’ on the couch.”

Can’t wait for the next new-series preview?
Trauma, sometime before its Monday-night premiere.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of fall 2009 premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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