I’m not going to lie, when the Family Guy spin-off was announced, starring Cleveland Brown, I was a bit surprised, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. Don”t get me wrong, Cleveland was always a funny and likeable character, but most of his humour was based mainly on him bouncing lines of Peter and without that, I was worried that the show wouldn’t work. Well, I can happily say it does and then some.
The episode starts off very similar to an episode of Family Guy, in fact the whole episode feels like a Family Guy episode, which is fine for the first episode, but it’s going to need some killer changes (No flashbacks for example) to distance it. Cleveland and his now overweight son, Cleveland Jr lose the house because of his divorce to Loretta, so they decide to go to California, so Cleveland can live his dream. On the way, they go to Stoolbend, Virginia, Cleveland’s hometown, where Cleveland meets his old high school flame, who’s kids are running wild. He helps her take care of her kids and falls back in love with her and decides to stay. Oh and his neighbour is a Bear.
The episode plays around and feels very light. As far as introductory episodes go, it gets the job done and does it well. MacFarlane has done well to learn from the fairly average pilots of Family Guy and American Dad. But again, because it’s a pilot, it feels held back. There should be an extra depth that’s missing, but maybe I’m grasping at straws.
The characterization is fairly good here as well, the characters aren’t all as diverse as Family Guy or American Dad, but it keeps the absurdity of it’s sister shows, mainly by making one of Cleveland’s best friends a talking bear called Tim. Rallo is instantly a favourite, he’s a five year old, a bit like if Stewie was raised by Quagmire.
All in all, it’s a fairly good first episode and shows good signs of things to come (with a 2nd season already commissioned, it better be), but the main problem with it is it’s just not funny enough, I’m hoping the laughs were moved so they could focus on characters and introductions. Definitely one to watch…