The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One

The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season One
On the commentary track of the pilot episode of this four-disc first season collection of The Cleveland Show, co-creator Seth MacFarlane mentions that the original title of the series in its conceptual stage was Black Family Guy. It's an apt a description as any, pointing out the main distinction of the series, aside from its focus on sex jokes and big asses rather than non-sequiturs and pop culture references. Still, throughout the 21 episodes included, references go from obvious jokes about a transgendered Madea to random ones about Chloe Sevigny smelling like rotting fish carcasses. Similar to Family Guy, this spin-off focuses on the shenanigans of a newly formed family, after Cleveland (voiced by Mike Henry) moves him and son Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson) to Stoolbend (a poo reference), Virginia. There, he marries high school sweetheart Donna Tubbs (Sanaa Latham) and amalgamates, Brady Bunch-style, their families, assuming the father role for shallow, teenaged Roberta (Nia Long and Reagan Gomez) and horny five-year-old Rallo. Occasionally tossing out terms like "blumpkin," the show sticks mostly to bedroom and bathroom humour, having an episode where Cleveland's father has an extended sexual encounter with a farting trannie and another where Rallo discovers Roberta's maxi pads and thinks she's dying. While better than American Dad, this show never matches Family Guy, despite having some occasionally inspired gags, such as the one where Halle Berry's Oscar speech about being a significant black woman is parodied by exaggerating the constant cuts to her white mother. It's just unfortunate that aside from the crass humour, the episode structure leans towards bad '80s sitcom, with laboured set-ups and predictable trajectories. It seems like a waste, seeing as with animation you can take your story anywhere your mind desires. Included with the DVD are the usual "making of" supplements and commentary tracks that describe the process behind creating a spin-off, along with a table read for the episode with Kanye West. Despite successfully not making any unfounded, broad, sweeping, ignorant statements, he struggles to read words with more than one syllable. Also included with the DVD is a "behind the scenes" featurette on the Earth, Wind & Fire video "Get Your Hump On." They're a creepy looking bunch. (Fox)