Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Seth MacFarlane Domination Continues

Seth MacFarlane is taking over TV. He's got Family Guy and American Dad on Fox. He's appearing in person on FlashForward. And now, with last week's premiere of Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, he's got 3/4 of Fox's Sunday night line-up. Only The Simpsons stands in the way of the animation block becoming "Seth MacFarlane night."

But with Cleveland's second episode airing tonight, I thought it was worth taking a look at MacFarlane's second attempt to clone Family Guy. Like American Dad, Cleveland attempts to replicate Family Guy character-by-character as much as possible. There's Cleveland (here taking over the Peter role), his high school crush (Lois), his overweight son (Chris), her daughter (Meg), and her too-mature-for-his-age young'in (Stewie). Plus a talking bear, a redneck, and a preppie white guy who lives with his mom as Cleveland's three friends.

Essentially, it's Family Guy with a few racial and geographical adjustments. And while the pilot didn't exactly make me laugh, it was still miles above American Dad (also true for any other scripted show on TV). I will say that the Family Guy trademarked cut-aways seem to be getting more desperate and less logical with time. It's starting to feel like amateur improv, where they don't actually know how to complete the joke after the set-up. I'm starting to think South Park may be right that the show is written by manatees.

Truth is, Family Guy was a show I LOVED when I was 13, but I outgrew its sense of humor a couple years ago, so Cleveland's not really aiming for me as its audience. But if you like Family Guy and can tolerate American Dad, you'll probably enjoy it just fine. And if nothing else, it's got a pretty good theme song:

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