In the Season 4 premiere of "The Cleveland Show," Halloween comes knocking on Cleveland Brown's door, and he's got major plans.
It involves seeing a football game against Stoolbend (his alma mater) and Goochland. Of course, it wouldn't be any fun if he didn't bring his gang along (which he does), and includes his stepdaughter's annoying boyfriend, Federline, to serve as the designated driver because Cleveland plans to party hard.
But then Federline backs the car into a rival team's vehicle, and what ensues is a mostly funny romp with "Doctor Who"-style running, Smurf cursing, the theme to "St. Elmo's Fire," and a strange wooden mascot that gets taken at precisely the wrong moment. It doesn't help that the mascot is the "wife" of a former president and the town's prized possession. For Goochland, the prank simply is no laughing matter.
Meanwhile, Cleveland's wife has dressed provocatively at her husband's request and attends a costume party. Unfortunately, she says the wrong thing to a police officer and winds up in custody.
Best moment? David Lynch (director of "Blue Velvet" and creator of the '90s series "Twin Peaks") makes a funny cameo as a bartender. Much like his guest appearance on "Louie," the encounters are brief and somewhat beguiling.
"Escape from Goochland" does a good job of taking visual gags and twisting them for what it's worth. Cleveland's motley crew of '80s cartoon-inspired costumes is possibly one of the funniest moments of the episode, if not the most memorable. But, visual gags and a few funny quips aside , there's not much about the premiere that really stands out. "The Cleveland Show," as a spin-off, still hasn't completely shaken off the shadow of the very popular "Family Guy" and "American Dad."
While understandably trying to bring diversity to the Fox animation domination slot, Cleveland, as a character, isn't as likable as Peter Griffin and Stan Smith. Cleveland's family has the obligatory dysfunction, yet struggles for the charm that creator Seth McFarlane injects into his other shows. There's something missing, and it could be that its protagonist isn't really up to the task of headlining a show. Add passably entertaining scripts, and you get the sense that perhaps "The Cleveland Show" may never surpass or even catch up with "Family Guy," as "Family Guy" has already made its mark on popular culture.
For now, "The Cleveland Show" is a light diversion, and a sometimes laugh-out-loud comedy that still has plenty of room to grow.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Cleveland Brown