OK, it’s the question on everyone’s mind: Where’s LeBron going? Ha! I’m just kidding. We don’t care about sports around here!
I know this isn’t up everyone’s alley, but I’ve spent the past week binge-watching The Cleveland Show. Before I get the MacFarlane haters, let me explain: I’ve been a longtime viewer of Family Guy and American Dad, but Cleveland flew under my radar. I’d heard a lot of people write it off as just “The Black Family Guy“, but I’ve come to realize that it’s so much more than that. At least in the beginning. If you skipped the series, here’s the premise: losing everything to his ex-wife in the divorce, Quahog resident Cleveland Brown packs up his stuff and his son and sets out for California so he can become a scout for the Dodgers. On the way, they stop through Cleveland’s hometown of Stoolbend, Virginia, where Cleveland runs into his high school sweetheart, Donna. After a whirlwind courtship, Cleveland decides to stay in Stoolbend, and he marries Donna.
For the first season and a half, it’s a show that has a lot of heart, as it deals with the trials and tribulations of a blended family, in a way that Step By Step and The Brady Bunch never did. Donna has two kids of her own, who want nothing to do with Cleveland. So, Cleveland’s caught between trying to raise his own son (who he’s not sure is a genius or a moron), while trying to earn the respect of Donna’s children. For the first 1.5 seasons, it’s more of an animated sitcom than it is a “cartoon”. By that, I mean that it’s more akin to King of the Hill than it is Family Guy. With the exception of the talking bears, the rest of the show is pretty grounded in reality. Injuries that would kill a person actually kill them in the show, and the cutaways aren’t as out-of-left-field as they are on MacFarlane’s other 2 shows. I also didn’t realize that Cleveland had its own Lacey Chabert situation (Chabert played Meg Griffin on Family Guy before being replaced by Mila Kunis), as Nia Long voiced Donna’s daughter Roberta for the first 13 episodes and was then recast with Regan Gomez-Preston.
Anyway, it’s a pretty strong show…and then the second half of season 2 hits. Ratings weren’t where Fox wanted them, so the show was retooled to be, essentially, The Black Family Guy. Since that seemed to be the formula that worked, the cutaways became more fantastical, and the family dynamic took a backseat. It’s a really sad development, as the family aspect is what set it apart from the other 2 Fox Macfarlane shows. In Family Guy, they happen to be in a family, but there’s never really been a loving dynamic amongst the characters. The same is true for American Dad, especially once it becomes The Roger Show. Cleveland, however, had an 80s spinoff feel to it, with a similar conceit. Once it abandoned what made it special, it no longer really deserved to be a show. And after 4 seasons, it was quietly canceled by Fox. Cleveland and his family have since moved back to Quahog and rejoined Family Guy, but that just means they’ll be part of the Griffins’ craziness and we probably won’t get much focus on them again. That’s really a shame, as I had really come to appreciate the Brown-Tubbs family.
After Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy announced their departure from The View, it seemed like it was time to stick a fork in the longtime talker. After all, Whoopi Goldberg was the only co-host left. Then, they went crawling back to Rosie O’Donnell. Right now, it’s looking like Rosie’s coming back, but she’s got a lot of demands. One of the biggest is that she refuses to work with any reality TV stars, which has thrown a wrench into the process of filling the other seats, as the producers had been looking at folks like Bethenny Frankel. I say cancel the thing and let The Talk fill that gap on television. I’m probably just saying that because I’m an Aisha Tyler fan…
The DC TV Universe is getting bigger next season, as it’s been announced that Firestorm will be showing up on The Flash. Even more with keeping it in the family, he’s being played by Arrow star Stephen Amell’s cousin, Robbie. I grew up a little too late to really like the original Ronnie Raymond Firestorm, so part of me is like “Why couldn’t they go with the black Firestorm?’
Speaking of The CW’s DC shows, Brandon Routh just experienced the worst pop culture demotion since Kirk was busted back down to Captain. It appears that the former big screen Superman will be showing up as the small screen’s The Atom on Arrow. A lot of people online seem excited about this, but I’m not one of them. Sure, he’s attractive, but I’ve never really liked his acting. He wasn’t the worst thing about Superman Returns, but he certainly wasn’t the best, either. It seems like Arrow can do no wrong, however, so maybe this will work out in the end.
A little known fact is that Lindsay and I collected Hasbro’s Marvel Mighty Muggs. I finally thought we had a complete collection, and then they had to go and announce ROM. Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Space Knight, the ROM Mighty Mugg will be released at San Diego Comic-Con later this month, and will then be available on the Hasbro Toy Shop website. Ugh, I hate using that site, but it looks like I’m gonna have to do it if we’re to keep our collection complete.
The primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and folks have been talking about some of the shocking snubs. For example, The Simpsons wasn’t nominated for Outstanding Animation Program for the first time in its existence. What surprised me, however, was that Regular Show was nominated in the Outstanding Short-Form Animated Program for what is one of its best episodes, “The Last Laserdisc Player”. It’s too awesome for me to even try to summarize here, so see if you can find it online somewhere.
How I Met Your Dad just won’t die! Even though the pilot has officially been scrapped, the creators are now starting from scratch, trying to develop it in time for the 2015-2016 television season. Everyone’s been released from their contracts, so it’d be an all-new cast from the one in the pilot. I’ve said it before, but the HIMYM finale killed any interest I had in seeing this succeed.
My buddies over at UnderScoopFire! commemorated their “100th” episode this week. Anyway, The gang’s almost all there, so be sure to head over and check it out.
-Eva Mendes/Ryan Gosling
Links I Loved
32 Things about Disney’s TRON on it’s 32nd anniversary [Classick Cinema] – Cold Slither Podcast
This may be the most controversial West Week Ever winner since I’ve been doing this, but it had to be done. A lot of the “cool kids” will say they don’t like country music, and that’s fine. I’m not one of those people. Plus, country has changed so much in the past 5 years that it’s not anything like what you think country is when you make jokes about it. The current stars were raised on country and hip hop, so there are more modern influences on the genre. Plus, things like Big Smo and “Dirt Road Anthem” have helped meld the worlds of country and hip hop. Still, through all of this, there was one bastion of Old Country left. Sadly, he had retired in 2001 and decided to just do Vegas shows. That was until yesterday, when Garth Brooks announced that he had a new record deal, he was going on tour, and he would allow his catalog to be sold digitally. At a time when Country needed him most, Garth has answered the call. Will he fail? Will he succeed? Is there even a place for him in today’s country? That all remains to be seen, but this is still the return of the old guard to take back what was his. Sure, he had a misstep with the whole Chris Gaines thing (I really need to do a Track Star on that album), but he’s one of the most successful artists of the past 50 years, regardless 0f genre. So, for getting back on the horse one more time, Troyal Garth Brooks is having the West Week Ever.