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October 8, 2015

Sundays With Seth: Cleveland Strikes Back

by Jason Hughes, posted May 24th 2010 9:20AM
'The Cleveland Show' - 'You're the Best Man, Cleveland'The more hardcore fans of 'Family Guy' had probably already seen tonight's season finale hour-long spoof of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' Back in 2007, the series kicked off its sixth season with 'Blue Harvest,' an almost scene-by-scene parody of the original 'Star Wars.' This time around, the same attention to detail went into the making of 'Something, Something, Something Dark Side.'

Next to that, the events of 'The Cleveland Show' looked incredibly tame. However, as an ending for its first season, the finale did a great job of wrapping the season up with a lot of love, and even four nods to its father series, 'Family Guy.'

The premise had Cleveland's mother and father reuniting, to Cleveland's horror. A subplot involved the reading of Cleveland's ex-wife Loretta's will, where Cleveland was even more horrified to find who she left everything to.

It looks like the fallout of Loretta's will may be felt into the forthcoming second season of Cleveland. Considering that even the audience doesn't know how much money she left Cleveland Jr., the writers can have a lot of fun with him buying ridiculous things. I have a feeling they'll either drop the plot entirely, maybe by having him burn through it all during the summer hiatus.

The first of those 'Family Guy' shout-outs came after the reading of the will, when Jr. had the chance to exchange the money he had inherited for what was behind curtain number two, which turned out to be Herbert on a tired looking horse. The second came when Jr. was hinting at how much money he'd won and he indicated that Peter Griffin had to take on several jobs to pay the settlement he reached with her.

In that instance, they even dug at their parent show by indicating that while seeing Peter tackle these jobs was funny, it wasn't as funny as it would have been three years ago, implying a decline in quality in 'Family Guy.' A decline that I agree with, though the more recent episodes with their decreased reliance on cutaways have shown a vast improvement.

'Cleveland' stooped to a cheap cutaway gag just before a commercial break, by having a film class analyzing the previous scene. This was apparently just a dig at film school teachers. "Those who do do. Those who can't teach." Do you think Seth MacFarlane had a bad experience in a film class. Maybe somebody told him that you couldn't have a successful series by cutting away from the main action all the time to show inane and completely unrelated pop culture gags.

"I'll show him," MacFarlane probably told himself. "I'll not only succeed (after having been cancelled twice and revived by DVD sales and cable ratings) with this technique, I'll build a whole freaking franchise around it!"

I kept waiting for a connecting between Freight Train coming back into the picture and Jr. getting the money from his mother, but it never came. In retrospect, it would be a more likely move for Donna's ex-husband Robert, who had a brief appearance at a strip club, and as temporary replacement as best man. Unlike the true best man, though, Robert slept through the whole wedding.

Cleveland went there to fight his man on his mother's behalf when Freight Train chickened out and didn't show up. The visual of Freight Train holding a glob of Cleveland's fat belly was pretty damned funny, as was Cleveland's slap-fight technique. I love how Cleveland is written so much like a sassy gal with attitude and courage, but no fighting skills or manliness to back up his bravado.

Like the money, I guess the wedding of Freight Train and Cookie is going to stick around for awhile. At the beginning of the episode, they said they'd be moving back to Stoolbend as well, which puts them in the recurring cast. That cast has really come together very well as the season has progressed. In fact, 'The Cleveland Show' that wrapped this week is a vastly superior product than it was when it premiered.

'Family Guy' - 'Something, Something, Something Dark SideFans who saw 'Blue Harvest' knew what to expect from 'Something, Something, Something Dark Side.' Considering it's been out on DVD and Blu-Ray since December 2009, an exhaustive recap an review of it here seems kind of pointless. What I will say is that as a true fan of 'Star Wars,' I was incredibly impressed with the love shown to this parody of the second film.

As much as we fans love the films, we know they're not perfect, and that they're downright ridiculous in places. 'Family Guy' managed to point out virtually all of those moments in this parody.

Favorite moments:

--Joe as a probe droid, complete with mangled legs descending.

--The snow Cookie Monster's first appearance.

--Han takes out a DonDon, a tauntaun with the head of Don Knotts. "I don't wanna go out there. It's cold!"

--Meg as the space slug. I love that she did get a line, even it was just complaining about never getting any lines in these things, and that Han (Peter) took the time to come back and say, "Shut up, Meg."

--The top-down view of the tie-fighters chasing the Millennium Falcon, complete with John Bunnell narrating as he did on 'World's Wildest Police Videos.'

--Han Solo being tortured by Darth Vader via having to listen to Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone."

--The 'Back to the Future Part II' inspired ending, which indeed makes me look forward to the third 'Star Wars' parody, currently titled 'We Have a Bad Feeling About This.'

--And in keeping with the tradition of these parodies, I love the endings with Peter giving Chris, voiced by Seth Green, crap about the 'Robot Chicken,' co-created by Seth Green, parodies of 'Star Wars.'

[That's it for this season of Sundays With Seth, but you can always find clips and full episodes of 'Family Guy,' 'The Cleveland Show' and 'American Dad' on SlashControl or below.]

[Follow @ultraversion21 on Twitter]

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Liked the cleaveland finale, it had some good jabs at family guy, that one about the declining quality is true. Speaking of family guy, I don't think I'll be buying anymore of those direct to dvd movies anymore because i'll spend money on it, just to find that if I wait I can see it for free. they pulled the same crap with the stewie movie. why bring out a movie claiming its for our die hard fans who bought our other dvd than put it on tv for the casual fans that didn't support you in the first place

May 24 2010 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For people who saw the TV version and for some reason have not seen SSSD on dvd/blu-ray, the entire sequence on Dagobah is much longer and will not disappoint fans of Chris and his boss. From what I can remember, the most jokes cut were from Bespin onward, with one very notable dialogue change.

May 24 2010 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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