Monday, May 24, 2010

The Cleveland Show ends first year

     Seth MacFarlane's latest contribution to Fox's Animation Domination, The Cleveland Show, paid ample homage to it's origin, Family Guy, during last night's first season finale, "You're The Best Man, Cleveland Brown".  Yet, despite appearances by Peter and Quagmire (both voiced by MacFarlane), and someone calling Rallo (co-creator Mike Henry) "the black Stewie", the show definitely stands on it's own.  Sure, it's always nice when the shows crossover, when did on last week's Family Guy, but Cleveland is also it's own thing, and not just the black version of anything.

     Last night tied up one of Cleveland's (also Mike Henry) loose ends from his previous series: his wife, Loretta.  She died a few months ago, as addressed in another episode, and it was time to read her will.  It's nice that the show bothers with continuity such as this.  In it, she left everything she took from Cleveland in their divorce to their son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson), with one caveat: nothing was allowed to go back to Cleveland.  Which is too bad, because the generous boy shares the wealth with everyone else.  Cleveland, the poor, miserable, every-guy, who bad luck seems to follow, handled it better than he has plenty of other things.  Besides, he was distracted by the second plot.

     Cleveland's mother and father decided to come back to town and get re-married.  The best joke in all of that was when his mother called Cleveland his father's only son, and we got a montage of all the half-brothers that Cleveland has out in the world.  That could make for a successful spin-off all it's own, and when the writing starts to get stale, a never-ending pool of new characters to pull from.  But for now, the plucky Cleveland, not unlike Charlie Brown, as referenced in the title, took his lot in life and made the best of it.

     And that is why the show works.  Cleveland knows who he is, and he is an original character.  Joined by a slew of side characters who are rapidly growing on me from week to week, I can see why a second season was ordered before the first even aired.

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