Blue Sky And Peanuts: It’s Not the End of the World

Via: Peanutsblog

The news broke earlier on today that FOX subsidiary Blue Sky is tackling Charles Schultz’s classic Peanuts strip in an all-new feature film. The alarm hence raised, many proclaimed the end of a classic property, the smearing of Schultz’s memory and the surety with which the eventual film will suck. The A.V. Club weighed in by pointing out the hilarity of the press release in declaring a feature film possible at this point in time thanks to the current state of technology.

But enough about the armchair commentators, what does the deal really signify?

For starters, Schultz’s estate is not short of cash. Peanuts characters (particularly Snoopy) continue to abound in merchandise and the various books continue to sell. The seasonal specials are a staple of American television and air religiously on an annual basis.

The few features that were made by Bill Melendez back in the day are less well known today (although they’re still readily accessible in my mind, as my 4th of July post exemplifies) so what it comes down to is the Schultz estate’s desire to implant the Peanuts legacy into a new generation of youngsters for whom the beloved characters do no not hold the same level of nostalgia that they do for older folks.

Now the estate has some control over the look and nature of any theatrical project but their choice of Blue Sky is an interesting one. The details remain secret, but FOX may have been willing to pay the highest royalties or percentage of profits. On the other hand, now that FOX has a distribution deal with DreamWorks, it has to find a suitable use for Blue Sky outside of the Ice Age franchise.

I am skeptical that we will see a 3-D CGI version of the Peanuts characters. By all accounts we should have seen them already seeing as plenty of other classic characters have already undergone the transformation (Rocky & Bullwinkle and Scooby Doo spring to mind). Might Blue Sky surprise us with a CGI-assisted 2-D version? Disney’s Paperman short suggests that the technology exists in some form.

So let’s not count the chickens before their hatched. The film is not due for a couple of years yet so we’ll just have to hold our breath until the first glimpses emerge. What is known though, is that the Schultz estate has a proven track record of asserting the necessary control over Peanuts-related projects to ensure they maintain a suitably high standard.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, check out the groovy title sequence from the 1972 feature, Snoopy Come Home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BiFHWn-uwE

 

Seth MacFarlane: Integrity Lost?

Seth MacFarlane is a talented chap. That is a fact that is very hard to deny. From his roots working on Cartoon Network shows to his meteoric rise to superstardom, he’s worked hard at what he’s done and he at least deserves credit for what he’s achieved thus far.

Having said that, a recent post over on ToonBarn espouses how he’s lost his integrity as of late by way of debasing the original nature of his shows and by making much more overt his political and philosophical leanings in his shows. While the nature of his leanings isn’t necessarily in question in the ToonBarn post, the fact that MacFarlane is doing it to existing, beloved shows is.

That’s a tough claim to make, especially in light of the fact that they are his shows and he is free to take them in any direction he wishes. However, it does speak volumes about how he is allowed to run his shows.

Two examples can be used as a comparison. The first is The Simpsons and the second is Ren & Stimpy.

Looking at the first, it is tough to argue that Matt Groening has lost his integrity when it comes to the Simpsons. After all, he is still the nerdy underground comic artist he was then, the only difference is that he also created and is still involved with, two hit TV shows. All the same, it is impossible to win the argument that says the Simpsons as it currently stands is the same as it was in the mid-90s. Can Groening be blamed for this? Hardly, he was only a small piece in the larger puzzle that is the Simpsons organization.

How about Ren & Stimpy creator John K.? He stuck to his artistic guns and was eventually fired by Nickelodeon because of it. His integrity wasn’t in question then; a position that hasn’t changed since.

So where does that leave MacFarlane? He is undoubtedly the same person now as he was when Family Guy was first broadcast so it’s hard to say whether that is the case. His shows are all the same basic structure (family-based with two characters who shouldn’t talk but do anyway) and have stayed surprisingly close to their original premise compared to other hit shows.

Nope, MacFarlane as a person still has his integrity intact. What’s changed is the network he deals with, FOX.

Although it was well established when Family Guy was conceived, the FOX network was still only about 10 years old at the time and still a relative upstart compared to the same network of today. The spirit of underdog was still prevalent when Family Guy and cousin Futurama were ordered but the business conservationism that defined the other three networks was slowly creeping in, thus even though the shows were new and edgy, they didn’t really push that many boundaries.

Fast forward to today, and Family Guy has gone through a re-incarnation after fans rightfully demanded that it be brought back. The difference this time is that it’s now been on the air for over 10 years, a time frame that puts it in very rarefied company indeed, and will need to be replaced someday soon.

The only problem is that networks hate having to replace moneymaking shows because it means rolling the dice and potentially losing a lot of dough. Cue the cheaper solution of letting shows run as necessary but by giving the creators significant leeway to experiment. Thus we have Family Guy descend to a lower levels of audience intelligence in the never-ending pursuit of eyeballs.

FOX could step in at any time and stop the rot, but they haven’t, and it is on this fact that they are the ones who can be said to have lost their integrity. MacFarlane was always going to make the show that he saw fit and how Family Guy has progressed is simply evidence of that. In stark contrast, Nickelodeon saw falling standards and they did not hesitate to act. As a result both John K. and the show suffered in the short term but have ultimately gained in the long term as the high standards have stood the test of time

Five Reasons Why The End of The Simpsons Will Be The Deathknell For Animation on FOX

This is a repost from February 2011 that is even more relevant now as FOX continues to desperately searches for a successor to their cash cow. 

Via: Hulu

Over the last 20-odd years, The Simpsons has come to be the most successful TV show ever created. In an industry where plenty of shows don’t even make it to the end of their first season, and the numbers that make it beyond the single digits is extremely rare, the fact that one can make it into its third decade is exceedingly rare.

As a result, the longer the Simpsons remain on our TV screens, the more likely it’s ultimate demise will contribute to the collapse of the dominance of animation on FOX.

Below are the five reasons why this is so.

1. Brand Recognition:

Over the last 20 years, the Simpsons has become a brand in their own right. There are Simpsons toys, clothes, sweets, figurines, records, you name it, it has been Simpsonised at some point. What is sometimes overlooked is that it is the success of the TV show that has driven the demand for these products. Millions saw the show in TV and then bought the merchandise they saw in the shop.

Without the weekly reminder that market is sure to suffer a bit. Now keep in mind that I am referring to new episodes. Re-runs remind viewers of the show’s existence, but they tend not to remind them of good times, not encourage them to buy new products.

2. Brand loyalty

The Simpsons as a brand has phenomenal loyalty, so much so that it was able to transgress a brief period at the beginning where it reached proportions normally reserved for ‘fads’. Simpsons fans are famous for their devotion to their favourite show. Of course, it helped that the show was very well written, and more often than not outshone everything else being broadcast at the time.

Once the series ends, however, that loyalty will begin to (slowly) disappear. It will start off imperceptibly, but gradually, we’ll start to see less and less merchandise, more websites and fansites that are update less frequently. People will remain loyal and devoted, but the majority of fans will move on to other shows, or their tastes will change as they get older. Before you know it, all that will be left is a smattering of hardcore fans who hold on to the glory days and maintain that nothing will ever top their faith in a show from the 90s.

Convincing those many fans of the Simpsons that another show is of equal or better quality is a goal that is akin to convincing people that a tax raise really is a good thing. It can be done, but it’s an uphill struggle if ever there was one.Which leads us nicely into…..

3. Inability to replace it

FOX has known for quite a while that no show lives forever and eventually a replacement will have to be found. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption except for one thing: they haven’t found one yet.

It’s not for lack of trying though. Plenty of attempts have been made over the years to try and at least find something that can come close to attracting viewers of the Simpsons and slowly weaning them onto a different show. Pilots, season fillers, live-action, they’ve all been tried without success and still the problem remains.

Family Guy is perhaps the closest the network has come but since it returned from hiatus a few years ago, it is nowhere near what it used to be and currently attracts a far more narrow demographic than the Simpsons did at its height. The same goes for the other McFarlane children, they all share similar traits that prohibit them from ever reaching the largest audience possible.

4. It’s Still Good

Although I tend to agree with plenty of what the loyal Stonecutters over at the Dead Homer Society have to say, in the grand scheme of things, The Simpsons remains a very well written show. Especially in light of all the other “sitcoms” and “comedies” that the various networks put out during the week.

5. Changes in management structure

Last but most certainly not least, the Simpsons could never be repeated because FOX as a network has changed. When the Simpsons were first broadcast, the creators were given a wide berth when it came to content and biting the hand that feeds them. The simple reason for this was that the network needed ratings and ad revenue, and allowing the producers a bit of leeway went a long way in letting the show find it’s place in the TV world.

Since then, FOX has become successful, and much more mainstream as a result. I can’t foresee a show being given similar leeway (and a share of the merchandising) ever again. It just won’t happen. As a result, we’re unlikely to ever see a show like the Simpsons grace our screen again.

Conclusion

When the Simpsons eventually does get sent to the great big TV in the sky, it’s highly unlikely that a show such as Family Guy will manage to retain many of the Simpsons loyal fanbase and as a result, is more likely to falter when left to carry the network by itself. Once that happens, it seems probable that animation, as a driving force on the FOX network is doomed.

 

Why FOX Can’t Seem To Get Animation Right Again

FOX is well known for being the only consistent purveyor of animation on broadcast TV. Ever since 1989 when The Simpsons burst onto our screens, the network has been the only maintream network where animation has found success. The others do not lack for want of trying however, they’ve just never been able to crack the nut in the same way that FOX has.

It’s also well known that FOX has had problems over the years moving outside it’s traditional animation strongholds. Besides the Simpsons, the network has had only two other bona fide animated hits in King of the Hill and Family Guy. There were other shows, better shows, but none managed to last more than a few seasons (we’ll get to the McFarlane spin-offs in a minute).

Naturally, FOX hasn’t been resting on its laurels but has been actively searching for potential replacements for its incumbent shows. Its success in that regard has been lackluster to say the least. Family Guy is the only show to have come close to toppling the Simpson’s strangelhold on the network, and even then it was canned before it was brought back to life after a year and half.

Since then it has become a massive success, which has lead to the two spin-off shows in American Dad and The Cleveland Show. However, all three shows and the Simpsons are essentially the same formula in that they revolve around a family. Now that’s not to say its a bad thing, but it does tend to limit your audience if you do that. Besides, the McFarlane children exist only because of Seth’s midas touch and his accute wisdom to stay within his safety zone; unlike Matt Groening, who went beyond with Futurama and got burned because of it.

Secondly, FOX is broadcasting shows whose formulae are well out of date. The Simpsons is 20+ years old, Family Guy is almost a teenager. Yes, the shows have kept ‘up-to-date” but they are still rooted in those eras. Things just aren’t the same as they were back in the day. Styles and tastes have moved on. Admittedly FOX has attempted to catch up but its efforts with Futurama and Sit Down, Shut Up were pathetic to say the least.

Lastly, we need to ask ourselves if big-budget scripted animated shows of the caliber of the Simpsons and Family Guy are even worth creating any more? The historical context is that broadcast networks drew a much larger audience than cable. But everyone and their wife knows that broadcast ratings for even the highest shows are perilously close to those of cable. The fractitous nature of the viewing audience has resulted in a proliferation of networks that cater to more nuanced tastes. Thankfully some of those tastes have included animation.

So the question is not really why can’t FOX get another animated hit so much as should it even bother trying?

My position is that it should not, at least not on the scale that it currently produces. If animated shows are to survive in “broadcast” TV they need to be leaner and smarter and sadly FOX is searching for neither.

Why “Cancelling” A Show Is So Outdated In This Day and Age

Word came through the other day that FOX, after what surely must have been a long discussion (/sarcasm), had decided to swing the axe on Jonah Hill’s much vaunted animated show, Gregory Allen.

So this poses an interesting question, and it’s one that will surely have a different answer than if it had been asked the last time we had this kind of situation on FOX:

What does it even mean to “cancel” a TV show any more?

Seriously! So you “cancel” it from being broadcast on TV. Well, as my fiance would say, woop-di-freakin-do! TV (and I’m talking about traditional, OTA, satellite and cable scheduled programming here) is rapidly becoming a smaller and smaller part of the entertainment landscape anyway, why does it even matter?

FOX already hosts its shows in a couple of places online and its fair to say that a sizeable portion of their audience is watching them there rather than “tuning in” during the week.

With that in mind, would it not make more sense to simply release the episodes online instead? Just because you “cancel” the show, does that automatically preclude that you have to suddenly archive the remaining episodes never to be seen again?

No, of course not!

Why not instead just say that Allen Gregory has moved to being exclusively online? My train of thought is that at some point we’ll see a deeper connection between TV and the web. YouTube is currently pioneering the way with original series (shout out to the YouTube Next Lab) whose quality is rapidly approaching that of traditional TV and it’s only a matter of time before we see audience shifts to them. My point? If a show begins life online and become popular, it could easily be “transferred” to TV with a scheduled timeslot while remaining online, thereby capturing both audiences.

Shows could also go the other way. Say they start out on TV but don’t really find their audience, then they could move to the online world and carry on as before.

I will use any excuse to post Mo Willem's charcter designs for this show.

We’ve seen some rudimentary moves in this regard with the likes of Sit Down, Shut Up. Which, after getting canned, eventually returned as FOX burned off the episodes in the middle of the night. However, they also went up on Hulu, where it was possible for fans (such as myself) to finally see them. And apparently they’re now on Comedy Central (somewhere) too!

Just imagine what kind of online numbers they could have gotten if they had put them online straight away!

Animation is slightly trickier than live-action as they shows pretty much have to be produced before the season begins. That means that it really doesn’t make any sense to “cancel” an animated show and then pretend it doesn’t exist.

To be cliched and quote Bob Dylan: the times, they are a changin’.

A Puke-Inducing Animated GIF From The Simpsons

Well, not really puke inducing, but certainly fairly shocking when one considers the quality of the animation. It’s pretty poor. The movement is too rigid, the women is just a short cycle followed by some actual movement and as someone on tumblr pointed out, the effects on the alien look about 10 years out of date. It’s kinda sad to say you’ve seen better quality in a student’s animated film than on a primetime show like The Simpsons.

Is this what The Simpsons has become? Apparently so, even in its early days, at least the animation was honest. Klasky-Csupo was a young studio getting off the ground and the studio in Korea was having teething problems finishing the animation, so the blatant errors can be excused. Today though, with 20+ years of experience, there is no real excuse for poor/lazy animation.

In addition to that, how about the joke? Have a peek at the clip below from Al Jean and Mike Reiss’ short-lived 1990s sitcom, The Critic and see if you can’t spot something familiar.

Four Thoughts on Seth MacFarlane Rebooting The Flintstones

Yoinked from Cartoon Brew

I admit I was disappointed when I read the news yesterday. Why someone felt the need to let Seth MacFarlane reboot one of the greatest TV shows of all time is beyond me. Since we haven’t even seen or heard anything yet, I cannot have an opinion on the show either way. What I can have, are some thoughts on the whole idea, which I present to you below.

1. Why bring it back?

The old saying “let a sleeping dog lie” is apt. There is no shortage of original concepts out there just waiting to be made. Instead, in this age of sequels and prequels, we get an existing property that just has to be brought into the modern age.

Don’t get me wrong, The Flintstones aren’t sacrosanct. Remember the kids version from the 80s? Hanna-Barbera themselves weren’t as nice to the characters as they perhaps should have been. The difference is that they knew the jig was up in the early 90s and began making original content.

Why now? The Flintstones is 50 years old and the only new content being created is the Fruity Pebbles commercials. That’s pretty bad, but also appropriate. The show itself is only shown on Boomerang and merchandise has been gradually retracted over the years. The show is losing its audience (as they regrettably die off) and there aren’t enough new ones discovering the show.

My beef with the whole idea? Can you imagine if, back in the 60s, some network decided to bring back some vaudeville act from 50 years before? They’d be laughed out of town. Sadly that is not the case today.

2. Why Seth MacFarlane?

He already has three ‘winners’ on the network that pull in hundreds of millions of dollars a year for FOX. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Besides, he did work on some of the H-B cartoons of the 90s like Johnny Bravo, which was very much in the retro style. He is (or should be) familiar with the characters and the style of the show.

3. Will the reboot return animation to the glory of prime time?

No. That era is well and truly dead. The proliferation of the audience among the vast number of cable channels and the internet has meant that the audience necessary to sustain a top quality animated prime time show is gone. The days of the The Simpsons and Family Guy itself are rapidly drawing to a close. Don’t expect any big surprises.

4. Will you and I watch it?

I don’t know, will you? I’ll probably watch  the premiere but to be honest, I haven’t watched FOX on Sunday night in months. The quality of the evening has sunk to the point that I would rather invest my time in a film or TV show on Netflix than get let down by The Simpsons and the MacFarlane shows. It’s sad but it’s the truth.

Five Reasons Why The End of The Simpsons Will Be The Deathknell For Animation on FOX

Via: Hulu

Over the last 20-odd years, The Simpsons has come to be the most successful TV show ever created. In an industry where plenty of shows don’t even make it to the end of their first season, and the numbers that make it beyond the single digits is extremely rare, the fact that one can make it into its third decade is exceedingly rare.

As a result, the longer the Simpsons remain on our TV screens, the more likely it’s ultimate demise will contribute to the collapse of the dominance of animation on FOX.

Below are the five reasons why this is so.

1. Brand Recognition:

Over the last 20 years, the Simpsons has become a brand in their own right. There are Simpsons toys, clothes, sweets, figurines, records, you name it, it has been Simpsonised at some point. What is sometimes overlooked is that it is the success of the TV show that has driven the demand for these products. Millions saw the show in TV and then bought the merchandise they saw in the shop.

Without the weekly reminder that market is sure to suffer a bit. Now keep in mind that I am referring to new episodes. Re-runs remind viewers of the show’s existence, but they tend not to remind them of good times, not encourage them to buy new products.

2. Brand loyalty

The Simpsons as a brand has phenomenal loyalty, so much so that it was able to transgress a brief period at the beginning where it reached proportions normally reserved for ‘fads’. Simpsons fans are famous for their devotion to their favourite show. Of course, it helped that the show was very well written, and more often than not outshone everything else being broadcast at the time.

Once the series ends, however, that loyalty will begin to (slowly) disappear. It will start off imperceptibly, but gradually, we’ll start to see less and less merchandise, more websites and fansites that are update less frequently. People will remain loyal and devoted, but the majority of fans will move on to other shows, or their tastes will change as they get older. Before you know it, all that will be left is a smattering of hardcore fans who hold on to the glory days and maintain that nothing will ever top their faith in a show from the 90s.

Convincing those many fans of the Simpsons that another show is of equal or better quality is a goal that is akin to convincing people that a tax raise really is a good thing. It can be done, but it’s an uphill struggle if ever there was one.Which leads us nicely into…..

3. Inability to replace it

FOX has known for quite a while that no show lives forever and eventually a replacement will have to be found. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption except for one thing: they haven’t found one yet.

It’s not for lack of trying though. Plenty of attempts have been made over the years to try and at least find something that can come close to attracting viewers of the Simpsons and slowly weaning them onto a different show. Pilots, season fillers, live-action, they’ve all been tried without success and still the problem remains.

Family Guy is perhaps the closest the network has come but since it returned from hiatus a few years ago, it is nowhere near what it used to be and currently attracts a far more narrow demographic than the Simpsons did at its height. The same goes for the other McFarlane children, they all share similar traits that prohibit them from ever reaching the largest audience possible.

4. It’s Still Good

Although I tend to agree with plenty of what the loyal Stonecutters over at the Dead Homer Society have to say, in the grand scheme of things, The Simpsons remains a very well written show. Especially in light of all the other “sitcoms” and “comedies” that the various networks put out during the week.

5. Changes in management structure

Last but most certainly not least, the Simpsons could never be repeated because FOX as a network has changed. When the Simpsons were first broadcast, the creators were given a wide berth when it came to content and biting the hand that feeds them. The simple reason for this was that the network needed ratings and ad revenue, and allowing the producers a bit of leeway went a long way in letting the show find it’s place in the TV world.

Since then, FOX has become successful, and much more mainstream as a result. I can’t foresee a show being given similar leeway (and a share of the merchandising) ever again. It just won’t happen. As a result, we’re unlikely to ever see a show like the Simpsons grace our screen again.

Conclusion

When the Simpsons eventually does get sent to the great big TV in the sky, it’s highly unlikely that a show such as Family Guy will manage to retain many of the Simpsons loyal fanbase and as a result, is more likely to falter when left to carry the network by itself. Once that happens, it seems probable that animation, as a driving force on the FOX network is doomed.

Anomaly Appraisal: The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History

Via: Uncrate

This book was launched around this time last year (wow, time flies eh?) and at the time was the result of a considerable amount of press exposure for the simple reason that nobody from FOX or The Simpsons themselves would comment on it. Of course the logical excuse offered up was that an ‘official’ history will come along at some point which will naturally contain all the official stories and anecdotes.

This book however, is the unofficial version, replete with warts-and-all tales from inside and outside the show. For a loyal stonecutter’s take on the book, I suggest hitting up the Dead Homer’s Society for their review, which is refreshingly realistic in its synopsis.

John Ortved should be commended for putting together a tome that combines more first hand accounts of the show than any I care to remember. In contrast to Planet Simpson, which I posted about last week, which was a much more existentialist view of the series and its characters, this book looks past all that for what was going on behind the TV screen.

The book very much follows the shows own timeline, from pre-conception to the present time (well, 2009) so sa you can expect, the climactic, exciting stuff is in the middle, not the end. Ortved lays out in some detail the conflicts and fall-outs that have been the reality behind the greatest TV show ever made. Although he rightfully points out money and egos as being the main ingredients, he does present the facts in a reasonably fair and balance way. In other words, he doesn’t take sides in the war.

I loved reading first-hand accounts from people involved in the show, from writers, to the voice-actors all the way up to Rupert Murdoch himself. Although I found the transcript form of the book weary at first, it became a much easier read in the end (more on that later). The sheer number of stories (both humourous and otherwise) from these folks are gold to a Simpsons fan such as myself.

The book is excellent overall but there are just one or two areas where I was disappointed. Firstly, Ortved’s own writing is quite lacking in the fact-checking department. The biggest one I found was getting Binky and Bongo from Life in Hell mixed up.

Besides the factual errors, the book seems to have this dark overtone. In more than one occasion I found footnotes that were gratuitously politicised. Personally I don’t really care, but please, I’m reading a book about a funny show, there’s no need to bring up your own politcal leanings for the sake of it.

Lastly, there is the discussion about certain folks on the show. While I have mentioned above that Ortved stays pretty impartial to the infighting, there is a substantial imbalance in how he meters out praise and scorn. For example, David Silverman gets one mention whereas Al Jean is single-handedly ridiculed for allowing the show to decline over the last decade. Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t, but I firmly believe that you should meter out praise much more than criticism.

Overall, this is a must-read for any Simpsons fan. It helps set the frame of the Simpsons as an institution of American culture and helped me to see the show in a new, more compassionate light.

Why Cleveland Brown Himself is the Only Great Thing About The Cleveland Show

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We all know that the Animation Domination block on FOX has been on somewhat of a slide in recent years. The glory days with the Holy Trinity of The Simpsons, Family Guy and Futurama have long since passed and sadly attempts to improve the variety of the block (such as with Sit Down, Shut Up) have not ended well. Nowadays, we have The Simpsons and an hour and a half of Seth McFarlane for company on Sunday nights.

Last season it was the turn of Cleveland Brown, a side character in Family Guy, to strut his stuff in his own spin-off show. There was rampant speculation at the time on whether or not he was worthy of such an accolade. Yes, it’s true that on Family Guy, he plays a deathly boring character whose only reason for existing was to be the butt of jokes (as if he needed any worse luck when it came to bathtubs). However, with his own show, Cleveland has been forced to add a bit of depth to his character, although he does so at the expense of everyone else in show.

The key to any good show is the interaction between the characters. In most shows, said characters normally have personalities distinct enough that they bounce back and forth off each other. A great example is The Inrcredibles, where the family members constantly clash with each other as their different powers take flight.

In The Cleveland Show, you have the typical “nuclear” family; husband, wife & kids. So far so much the same as Seth’s other two shows. You have Cleveland’s biological son, a simpleton who never has much to say, his adopoted daughter who seems to exhibit some of the worst traits of being a teenager and his adopted son, who acts like a much brasher version of Stewie from Family Guy. Donna would seem to be a good match for Cleveland in terms of character, but she has yet to have near as much airtime has him.

As for Cleveland’s buddies, let’s just say they all have one defining trait and we’ll leave it at that.

Which leaves us with Cleveland himself. What has changed about him in his transition from side-characters to main protagonist? Well for one, he has a lot more screen time, so he has a heck of a lot more talking to do. Besides that, he is still somewhat hard to pin down. He’s a devoted husband and father, but he is not averse to getting them into obscure situations that involve, say, a shootout.

He displays a higher level of intelligence than previously, although that may be the result of actually being more involved with the show. He is an optimist at heart, always looking for the good in folks, although that does not preclude him from having negative opinions which he does dispense when it suits him.

As the centre of the show, he naturally gets involved in a lot more activities than his family, and he has some genuine funny moments. The fact that he even displays a lighter side (perhaps even a colourful one) is a significant indicator that he is the most developed character on the show.

Cleveland Brown is, however, not a decent enough reason on his own to watch The Cleveland Show. The girlfriend and I gave up at the second ad break last Sunday, simply because the effort required to stay up didn’t justify the awesomeness that is sleep. If you, however,  enjoy a show with only one half-decent character, The Cleveland Show will do the job.