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Red Carpet Premiere of 'The Cleveland Show' @ The NYTVF - 9.24.9 - By: Matt Fried

Cleveland Brown--perhaps White America's most beloved African-American neighbor since Steve Urkel--gets the hell out of Dodge (or, in this case, Quahog, Rhode Island) and heads to much greener pastures: Stoolbend, Virginia, his new home on The Family Guy spin-off series. Divorced, distraught, and determined for something better, Cleveland packs up his 14 year-old overweight son, Cleveland Jr., and heads to Stoolbend, only to reunite with his old high school flame, Donna Tubbs, and start his new life as a husband and stepfather. For Family Guy purists, do not fret: The Cleveland Show's sense of humor still runs on its forefather's formula--just keep throwing the cutaway gags at 'em. But what is different about The Cleveland Show is it's not a runaway train, powered by the rich natural resource of Kathleen Turner jokes. The plot is remarkably solid, and the show's structure and tone are reminiscent of more "modern classic" fare, like The Cosby Show. Cleveland gets the shot he deserves at being a leading man without being reduced to a two-dimensional joke. His cast of supporting characters--which includes a redneck, a midget yuppie, and a talking Born-Again Christian bear--are far more grounded and lovable, way less "wokka-wokka."

At its New York Television Festival screening, the show's creators confirmed that they are already 29 episodes deep into production, meaning that we will most likely get to see a season two of The Cleveland Show (or a very expensive DVD box set, as joked by executive producer Richard Appel). If the pilot episode has hinted at anything, then audiences have much to look forward to from Cleveland Brown and his new show. But just to be on the safe side: do Cleveland a solid, and say a prayer to Fraiser Crane, the almighty spin-off god.  --Matt Fried