FOX was so excited about the Brown family's first Christmas together as a family that they rushed out copies to those of us in the press so we could spread the joy of the holiday season even before the episode airs tonight at 8:30 PM ET. The Cleveland Show is a parody of the family sitcoms of the '80s and '90s, and this Christmas episode could easily have been on any number of those shows.
It was cheesy, trite and wrapped things up in a nice neat bow, of sorts. Add in a healthy dash of cynicism and Seth MacFarlane's trademark raunchiness, and you've got the makings of a modern animated ... slight disappointment. There were a lot of elements to "A Brown Family Christmas" to enjoy, but when it ended, I was a little disappointed.
The plot of Rallo losing his sense of the Christmas spirit upon finding out that his father is a deadbeat, as opposed to an FBI agent working undercover for the government (sometimes mother's lie to protect their children), was classic sitcom. You could easily see this playing out on Full House, with Michelle feeling bad about her mother's absence.
It was that sweet payoff that didn't work for me, because it wasn't really all that sweet. I think I'm expecting The Cleveland Show to either fully embrace its family sitcom tendencies, or more explicitly reject them. Instead, it dances with them throughout an episode, and then throws you under the bus at the end. It's weird, because I love it when shows like South Park and even MacFarlane's other shows do it. It just feels a little forced here.
Or maybe I just wanted Rallo and Roberta's father to be honest with his kids. I won't spoil to you how things ended, because there really are a lot of funny moments throughout the episode, and maybe you'll appreciate the culmination of the lies in a way that I strangely cannot.
There was a great recurring gag stringing along the scenes throughout the episode, and even though it never got any resolution, at least Tim's wife was able to afford it one fleeting moment of happiness. Otherwise, I'd have to say that good intentions led only to heartache and misery in this case.