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September 5, 2015

Sundays With Seth: 'American Dad' and 'Cleveland Show' Recaps

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 4th 2011 10:30AM
Lizzy Caplan as Patty, 'The Cleveland Show'['American Dad' - 'School Lies']
['The Cleveland Show' - 'The Essence of Cleveland']

You have to give Seth MacFarlane credit for one thing: At least he's aware of how many times he's taken the easy way out on 'The Cleveland Show' by just having Kendra show up and throwing out a fat joke.

As she wasn't the butt of any of them this week, she scooted by like a crawler on the bottom of the screen to announce the 100th fat joke of the season. I haven't been keeping track, but as Kendra has been featured more this year, I wouldn't be surprised if it was at least that.

The rest of the episode was actually pretty clever, with Cleveland reconnecting with a girl who had a crush on him in high school (voiced by Lizzy Caplan). There was no B-story to this episode, and yet the episode never seemed to meander too far from entertaining.

Considering most sitcoms use the crutch of a B-story to fill their 22-minute running time, it's always refreshing when a show manages to run a single narrative throughout. Even more impressively is when you don't even notice the lack of a back-up story thrown in just for laughs.

I hate when I get attached to guest stars because they almost never come back. But Patty is a fun addition to the 'Cleveland' cast, which is still pretty small. Her obsession with Cleveland dating back to high school coupled with her fat girl in a skinny body mentality makes for a deliciously twisted persona.

MacFarlane manages to lure Drew Barrymore back time and again for 'Family Guy,' so maybe he can hold the same power over Caplan. Sure, Patty was "over" Cleveland by the end of the episode, but that doesn't mean there isn't story potential left. Any woman who would go to the lengths she did to procure a sperm sample from him has more screws loose than an epiphany in a hot air balloon can cure.

And it's just the kind of crazy the show could use. Not to mention that it never hurts MacFarlane to have some more funny female characters on his shows. And with Patty you can go in different directions with her. She can continue to just berate Cleveland at every turn, gutting his ego. Or she could do another 180 degrees and obsess over him again. Or simply shift her obsession to someone else. Maybe Tim the Bear?

It was interesting getting another facet to Donna's relationship with Cleveland. Considering he swept in and saved her from a disastrous potential marriage with her ex, she certainly takes him for granted. If there really are women out there who know so little about their husbands, I'm frightened for those men. She does make the medical decisions. Maybe you should sit down and spell things out for her.

Still, it made for a funny scene as she got absolutely everything wrong about his medical history and even his present. Later, though, she proved she knew all of his annoying habits. This marriage doesn't seem very healthy, does it? It would be unprecedented in prime-time animation to have its main characters go through a divorce -- I think -- and it stick. Maybe MacFarlane is building to that?

Nah, I don't think these things are mapped out quite that definitively. I'd love to see a series that grows and develops like that in the animated realm. Maybe not in real time, but real character growth and change. 'King of the Hill' was about as close as we got and they still had poor Bobby at that age for more than a decade.

'American Dad' - 'School Lies'Over on 'American Dad,' the B-story was still in effect, but only marginally so. My favorite bit of it was when Roger was giving Stan directions to the crack house he left the Senator's daughter in and the truck drove by with Steve and the other Chica Fricas in it. There is a lot going on in that sentence. Let's break it down.

Stan was frustrated that he wasn't getting more high-profile work at the CIA and was advised by Bullock to put his career ahead of his family. In attempting to do so, he befriended a Senator. The asbestos problem at Steve's school was a pretty transparent plot device to create a scenario by which Stan and the Senator could connect. His daughter already goes to the private school Steve switched to.

It's when Roger filled in for Steve, after Steve threatened to go wolf-man, that the lunacy began in earnest. I loved the bit when Roger came home from his first day of school and casually mentioned that he'd sold the Senator's daughter to a drug lord.

The scene where the Senator ignored his daughter, fully aware of her serious drug problem, because he was focused on his career was uncomfortably funny. Uncomfortable because you know this very thing is going on out there all the time.

In the end, as always, Stan made the right decision and decided instead to save Steve from his burgeoning life as a female gangster. Family first. At least, until the next time he gets frustrated, or a great idea, or just distracted by something else.

Haunting and Hilarious Moments:

• I'm going to have nightmares about the prospective buyer jumping on a naked and tied-up Cleveland in sexual delight.

• The boys going through the 60-day process to find out who the home buyer was that had pictures of Cleveland up.

• Cleveland thought Tim was making up words when he said Google.

• Cleveland's homemade video tape collection!

• Donna sees Hot Patty

• Beating Roberta at Scrabble

• Half-court shot almost goes in

• Donna-Whoopee Cushion

• Cleveland Jr. belly flops

• Flying machine test run

• Lois sunbathing ('Family Guy' shout-out!)

• 'Hot Tub Time Machine' bootleg

• It was funny and accurate watching Stan struggle to not identify the senator's daughter by her race to a black guy, even though it was obviously the easiest way to do it.

• Steve really does look disturbing with his new tattooed eyebrows. It's amazing what a slight difference in the art can do.

• Stan has Francine tuck his "pud" back into his pajama bottoms? That's not cool, man. Not cool!

'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).

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Why haven't you continued reviewing the Family Guy/American Dad/Cleveland Show episodes?! The same goes for the Simpsons!!

April 20 2011 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Didn't Cleveland and Loretta divorce back when they were on Family Guy? Or did she die first?

April 05 2011 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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