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November 21, 2014

Sundays With Seth: 'The Cleveland Show' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 14th 2011 8:45AM
'The Cleveland Show' - 'The Way the Cookie Crumbles'['The Cleveland Show' - 'The Way the Cookie Crumbles']

Things were lonely on Seth MacFarlane watch this week, with only 'Cleveland' turning in a new episode. I guess Cleveland was missing his friends from Quahog as well because the episode featured far more cutaways than its usual average.

'Cleveland' is usually a show that relies heavily on its plots and stories, and yet in this installment the cutaways offered perhaps the biggest laughs.

Maybe the writers had an inkling that this story, while well told and emotionally well balanced, was lacking in the yucks department so they fell back on the old tried and true.

Considering the animators are apparently working in Cleveland's basement -- one of those random asides we got -- I can only imagine under what conditions the writers were working in. Maybe that's why they had a harder time bringing the funny.

Or maybe it's just that the story they were telling didn't lend itself well to humor. It opened with Cleveland discovering that his parents were selling all of his stuff off. But it wasn't, as LeVar said, to clear out all of his junk. It was because they were on the verge of losing everything.

They've done a great job of developing the character of LeVar Brown throughout the series. He started as a fairly standard jerk dad, but we're seeing that there are elements of pride, loyalty and even love to his character. The simple act of taking the fall for their lost savings when it was really his wife, Evelyn, who squandered it on one of those modeling scams.

It was interesting having this story revolve around Evelyn rather than Roberta. It certainly made for some far more disturbing images when we got a montage of the photos she'd taken. I also appreciated that the boys' ill-conceived plan to get their revenge on him ultimately led to them only getting taken in again.

I respect the episode for keeping it real with the Brown family situation. There was no fix for the elder Brown's financial problems, and they didn't even get the satisfaction of taking the guy down a notch or two who duped them. Instead, he bilked the family out of even more.

It'd be interesting if they kept Evelyn and LeVar in the house. Both characters play well off of Donna, Cleveland and their weird kids, so the built-in opportunity for humor would be there. That way the show could maybe go back to finding its humor organically, rather than from random asides.

RANDOM ASIDES

--The trailer for 'The Cleveland Show 3-D' was a perfect send-up of Hollywood ridiculousness

--"farty" "fart" "fart" Mad Libs.; we were probably all equally creative

--Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Fat Albert? Poor Bill Cosby won't like the digs about his indiscretions

--Oh, Horsey! At least he had a good life and died doing something he loved

'American Dad,' 'Family Guy' and 'The Cleveland Show' air Sundays at 7:30, 9:00 and 9:30PM ET, respectively, on FOX (though not every week together).

[Follow Jason on Twitter.]

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