Tonight's 'Cleveland Show' Debut Marks McFarlane's Domination
"THE CLEVELAND SHOW" TRAILER:
Fox TV bills its new Sunday night lineup as Animation Domination, but tonight's debut of "The Cleveland Show" more truly marks a new phase: McFarlane Domination. And tonight's premiere (update: to view the full episode, click here) surely will touch off a new wave of debate over creator Seth McFarlane's brand of bawdy humor. (Monday night update: Tom Shales's review is now up.)
When McFarlane's "Family Guy" returned to the Fox lineup several years ago from the graveyard of would-be cancellation, its creator sought a perch similar to that of "The Simpsons' " Matt Groening, "King of the Hill's" Mike Judge or "South Park's" Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Now, what a remarkable turnaround it's been: "King of the Hill" rode off into the Texas sunset this month, opening up another Sunday night Fox slot while "The Simpsons" remains the network's granddaddy -- perceived as a funny old storyteller, but one that's lost much of its satiric teeth.
McFarlane, meanwhile, has been a master Empire-Builder. He leveraged "Family Guy's" success (at first largely buoyed by DVD sales) to launch his second Fox animation, "American Dad." His one-two punch became so popular that Fox made sure to secure its future with McFarlane with a nine-figure deal. (Prompting Seth to famously say that he gave Fox the decade of his twenties and they gave him $100 million. Quite the Foxian bargain.)
This month, "Family Guy" enjoyed a best comedy Emmy nomination -- an exceptionally rare achievement for animation. He sat with James Lipton for "Inside the Actors' Studio." And now, tonight, he has three -- count 'em, three -- animated comedies on Fox's Sunday prime-time lineup. In other words, he could reasonably stake a claim as being Hollywood's most powerful single animator.
Whether it's over a matter of taste or satiric target or non-sequitur cutaways, McFarlane continues to have his detractors -- including some TV critics and even government officials; this month Venezuela banned "Family Guy." His base audience, however, is millions strong. And his off-color one-liners may be still off-putting to some, but they are an enormous draw to that ever-loyal base. On that front, at least, I can say that (having previewed several episodes), "Cleveland" does not disappoint.
At this year's Comic-Con, the hall of thousands ate up the "Cleveland Show" session and roared at the preview footage. Seth's improvised jokes -- as he kidded with such voice-actor stars as Sanaa Lathan and Jamie Kennedy -- made him the King of the Hall. (And "Family Guy" voice Mila Kunis told Comic Riffs that she thinks Seth is "brilliant.") Now, if the viewing masses respond as enthusiastically, the McFarlane Juggernaut will be fully relaunched -- on a trajectory that shows no apex in sight.
UPDATE: The debut of "The Cleveland Show" reportedly drew more than 9 million viewers -- besting even its Fox lead-in, "The Simpsons" (8.2 mil), as well as "American Dad" (7.1 mil).
Universal Press Syndicate announces that each of the next four Sundays, "BALDO," is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by having four Hispanic cartoonists draw the strip, which was co-created by Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos.
Today's strip is reportedly drawn by the Miami-based Cuban American artist David LeBatard, a.k.a LEBO,.
The following Sundays will be drawn by Carlos Saladana, (Burrito Comics), Anthony Oropeza and artist Lorenzo Lizana ("Amigoman -- the Latin Avenger") and David Alvarez ("Yenny") were each invited to create a Sunday Baldo strip.
| September 27, 2009; 3:05 PM ET
Categories: The Animation, The Comic Strip
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