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Monday, November 8, 2010

The Cleveland Show celebrates Halloween... a week late

    FOX made a bad move this year by airing The Cleveland Show's (along with the rest of the network's Animation Domination lineup) Halloween special, "It's the Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown", a week after Halloween.  Sure, if they had aired it a week early, that would have been ok.  People anticipate, and get in the mood for, holidays before they occur.  But I've never heard of a network running holiday specials so long after the day has passed before.  I realize that FOX has commitments to baseball, but if they were going to go ahead and make Halloween episodes of everyone's favorite animated series, they should have been put on the air before Halloween, even if it wasn't on their normal night.

     That being said, last night's The Cleveland Show was not a bad episode.  Funny, yes, at times bizarre, but not bad.  A couple of memorable gags were shown.  Upon returning home and finding his house toilet papered, a carved jack o'latern volunteers to Cleveland (voiced by series co-creator Mike Henry) what happened.  Roberta (Reagan Gomez-Preston) claimed not to know what she was (barely) dressed up as, and replied off handedly that she might be a ghost.  Later, in the same costume, she made ghost-like sounds for no apparent reason.  Kendra (Aseem Batra), clad far too skimpily, chased Lester (Kevin Michael Richardson) down the street, as Lester frantically tried to remember their safe word.  Cleveland attended David Carradine's funeral, laughed at seemingly dirty words, then cried when he found out that auto-erotic asphixiation could be fatal.  Sure, some those things were silly, and the latter was a bit wrong, but all elicited chuckles.

     The main plot focused on Cleveland Jr. (also Richardson), Cleveland's childish, dorky son from his first marriage.  Junior wanted to go trick-or-treating dressed up as a pancake, but Cleveland told him that fourteen was too old for such things, and ordered him to stay home and pass out candy.  Junior went out in a rare act of defiance, and was bullied for it.  After that, he agreed to listen to his father as Cleveland transformed him into someone cool, but was still picked on.  Finally, partially at the urging of Junior's step-mother, Donna (Sanaa Lathan), Cleveland realized that he had to let his son be who he was.  But he did not have to allow bullying.  Cleveland and his friends dressed up as other breakfast foods and accompanied Junior on a revenge mission to egg the bullies.  In a last toungue-in-cheek remark, Cleveland admitted he couldn't protect his son from what might happen to him at school the next day.

     The B plot involved Rallo (also Henry) loosing a tooth, he thinks from eating too muich candy, and hiding it under his pillow.  The youngster is shocked and terrified to discover that the tooth is replaced by a quarter, not knowing about the tooth fairy, or realizing that he hadn't managed to slip the gap in his smile past his mother's notice.

     And that pretty much sums up The Cleveland Show.  Cleveland is a loving father, who is a bit too self-obsessed, and thinks he's right far more often than he is.  He often doesn't consider consequences.  Yet, somehow there is a sweet family drama here.  More so than on Family Guy, Cleveland has to be a parent, ironic, considering the title.  It's found it's own niche.  The neighborhood is a little less refined than the show it spun off from, and there aren't as many off-topic side scenes, and Cleveland has proven itself more than a carbon copy.

     The Cleveland Show will never replace Family Guy, nor rise to it's popularity.  But it's worth a watch.  The Cleveland Show airs Sunday nights at 8:30pm.

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