TV Review: The Cleveland Show 4.1 - "Escape from Goochland"

rating 3

(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!) Ah, The Cleveland Show. Every bit as good as American Dad! and Family Guy, and I€™m sure most people will take that comparison any way they like. But it must be said, I generally really enjoy The Cleveland Show. It doesn€™t always have the same sharp bite as Seth McFarlane€™s other Sunday night shows, but I find Cleveland to be a more engaging character than Stan or Peter, and really do like this show. All that said, this particular episode€well, it wasn€™t bad, but it didn€™t quite go the way I€™d anticipated, and I think there are things that could have been handled better. Let€™s get the overall plot out of the way. Cleveland and friends go to see a football game in nearby Goochland, Virginia (which totally exists, btw). Needing a designated driver, Cleveland recruits Roberta€™s wigger boyfriend, Federline, who upon being offered the driving job says, €œBlack, yeah!€ Things naturally go poorly, and the next thing you know, the gang are on the run from an angry mob after stealing a wooden statue of Eunice Henry Harrison, the (fictional) wife of 30 day president, William Henry Harrison. There was much that I really enjoyed here. From things like the War of Northern Aggression Memorial Stadium, to Tim dressed as He-Man and Hoult dressed as Katy Perry, all the way to our heroes praying to Tim Teabow for salvation and the extreme weirdness of Gus (voiced by David Lynch, btw). There were plenty of moments and gags that had me really laughing out loud (especially Roberta and Cleveland, Jr, dressing up as their parents). But I do feel that the show missed a real chance. Federline the wigger hasn€™t ever done very much other than be, well, Federline the wigger. I realize he was probably always intended as basically just a one-joke character, but it feels like they tried to do a bit more with him here. It just also feels like they didn€™t try hard enough or go far enough. I€™m not sure what would have fixed that. Beyond that, the show is just at its best when it€™s a little weird, a little race-y, and a little emotional. There was some of that here, but not in the good combination one can get with some of the other stories. That said, this was at least a decent way to start up the show€™s fourth season (sheesh€four already?), and I do certainly have high hopes for what€™s to come.
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at wilybadger.wordpress.com