I've now watched a few episodes of 'The Cleveland Show', it started in the UK a short time ago. I wanted to like it, I did - I gave it a fair shot, and it may well get better - but, based on what I've seen: What a stinker! To be fair, the titles give fair warning. Let's compare and contrast:
It seems today, that all you see, is violence in movies and sex on TV. But where are those good ol' fashioned values on which we used to rely?
Lucky there's a family guy, Lucky there's a man who'll positively can do, all the things that make us laugh and cry!
He's - a - fam - ily - guy
Nice and short, relates to the title without going too far into exposition.
Now 'American Dad':
Good Morning USA, I got a feeling that it's gonna be a wonderful day, The sun in the sky has a smile on his face and it's shining a salute to the American race. Oh boy, it's swell to say: "Good Morning USA."
A USA-typical patriotic score accompanies the lyrics, again, it sets the stall without going too far into exposition. American Dad isn't as good as family guy, but it's watchable.
Now, for the Cleveland show.
My name is Cleveland Brown and I am proud to be right back in my hometown with my new family. There's old friends and new friends and even a bear, through good times and bad times there's true love we share. So I found a place where everyone will know, my happy moustached face, This is the Cleveland show! (inane giggle)
(Originally the lyric was to be 'happy black-guy face', but was changed).
This show jumps the shark right there. Right on the phrase 'and even a bear', it's all downhill from there. Family guy didn't feel the need to say in the titles 'the baby talks, strangers can understand him and aren't phased by this - the dog can understand him too, and oh yes, we've a talking dog'.
My name is Pete Griffin and I am proud to be still here in Rhode Island with my old family. There's old friends and a baby and a talking dog, through side notes and footnotes there's a hint of a plot! So I found a place where everyone will know, my bloated fat-guy face, This is the Griffin show! (inane giggle)
Even American Dad did not say 'there's even a camp alien called Roger and a talking goldfish'.
The first time, it's not so bad - though the 'old friends' bit jars a little, as you've never seen those folks before - and later on, when the old friends are old, the new friends aren't new - and once past episode one, the bear is known. Stop telling me about the bear. I KNOW ABOUT THE BEAR. Grr.
Aside: From the original trailer, the 'old friends' referred to were to be Joe, Quagmire and Peter, but in the title sequence the old friends are two chaps we've never seen before.
... and what's this? The son? Okay, they put the boy in with a knowing self-referential bit of humour, but even so....
Cleveland Brown was a great character in 'Family Guy'. He could be used when needed and off-screen at other times, thus when he appeared, he got some good moments. However, as a lead supporting his own show?
I could forgive the Cleveland Show for annoying me with the titles, if the show was funny - but it isn't. It simply isn't. It has a moment or two, but....
If the Cleveland show was following his secret life in Quahog, he could still appear in Family Guy - and Family Guy characters could guest in his show - but if they do make an appearance (as seems to be the intention) it'll be a bit of a stretch to do more than very occasionally.
The funniest, and most telling, thing about the show was in the first episode. As Cleveland leaves, Stewie exclaims 'What the Hell? He's getting his own show?' From the mouths of babes... (or in this case, the mouth of Seth MacFarlane)
In short, 'Family Guy' is great (but even there the constant use of "It's like that time when...." gets annoying). "American Dad" is okay, if there is nothing else on.... and "The Cleveland Show" is a step too far.