I'd like to preface everything I'm about to say with stating very clearly that I love Family Guy. Family Guy is one of my favorite shows ever. There are times that I pop in my Family Guy DVDs and watch episode upon episode all day long. Not only do I watch the episodes, but I've also listened to every commentary track. It's not going too far to say, I really enjoy the show.
I think that with such a strong admiration for a show must come a certain amount of respect for its creator. Seth MacFarlane is a genius, pure and simple. He has one of the most finely tuned comedic minds of the 21st century.
All this being said....ENOUGH ALREADY!
Jesus Tap Dancing Christ! I get that Family Guy is a huge commodity for Fox. Since its rebirth, it has been the backbone of the scripted shows on the network. So, showing some faith in MacFarlane and friends, Fox greenlights American Dad...which is also highly enjoyable. American Dad is just different enough than Family Guy that you can watch both shows and not feel overloaded on MacFarlane's particular brand of humor. American Dad has also really come into its own as being a strong, standalone show that is consistently funny.
Then, there was the dismal and quickly cancelled The Winner...the Rob Corddry vehicle that was the first live action show of the bunch. Since it failed so quickly, it's hardly worth even mentioning, but its failure should've been an indicator to Fox that maybe too many projects would be stretching MacFarlane too thin.
Now, we have The Cleveland Show. This dreadful abortion should've been scrapped before anyone even thought to mention it out loud.
Fox's Sunday night is now as follows....The Simpsons, which literally hit its stride 16 years ago, followed by The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad....an HOUR AND A HALF of Seth MacFarlane produced television shows. The problem is, The Cleveland Show, which is the lead-off batter for this lineup is actually hurting the other shows by sucking all the life out of the evening. They say lead with your best foot forward...well, MacFarlane is definitely leading with the weakest show which drags his other shows down with it.
The Cleveland Show is not good. It's hard for me to say that, as I really enjoyed the character on Family Guy....but on Family Guy he was good for what he was; a supporting character. The show has one, sometimes two laughs in the half hour. It's like they took all the things that weren't quite funny enough for Family Guy and put them in the B show. It takes everything that is NOT funny about MacFarlane's style, and packages it neatly and shoves it down your throat before presenting the main course that is Family Guy.
It's the equivalent of being forced to eat White Castle right before having Filet Mignon.
Before even getting to Family Guy, we're already left with a sour taste in our mouths for the style. The characters in Family Guy are rich and meaty...ripe for comedy. The writing is very often clever and the jokes are plentiful. The Cleveland Show just serves up stale, boring, carbon copies of the characters we already love. No matter how hard they try, Cleveland will never be able to say a line that could make you laugh as hard as Peter Griffin can. By the time you get to American Dad, it's like you've run a marathon of pop culture references and cutaway gags that just leaves you feeling worn out.
This all came to a head for me when I learned that MacFarlane would be getting his own live action special this November where he and fellow Family Guy voice actor Alex Borstein will be singing songs from Family Guy and acting out scenes from the show. That night will air as follows...
7:30PM - The Cleveland Show
8:00PM - Family Guy
8:30PM - Half Hour Family Guy Special
9:00PM - Family Guy
9:30PM - American Dad
I get it...the guy's talented....but when is it just too much of a good thing?