More TV Memories – The Cleveland Show.

The Cleveland Show (Fox, 2009-2013)

By the late-2000s, Family Guy become one of the most successful animated sitcoms for older viewers. Despite being cancelled twice, it constantly came back and eventually established itself. By this point, the show had been running for a decade, and the characters had become very familiar, so why not launch a spin-off series? Along with this and American Dad, Seth Macfarlane would now have three comedy cartoons on the go. Which cast member would it feature though?

Would it be Glen “Giggity” Quagmire? Or maybe it could be Joe Swanson? Well actually it was neither of them. Cleveland Brown was probably not the first choice viewers would pick for a spin-off series. He was in Peter Griffin’s circle of friends, and originally he was a delicatessen owner, who was married to Loretta, and had one son who was Cleveland Jr. tcs1

He was rather dour though, and he would say things in a rather boring voice (although he didn’t have the most boring voice that I’ve ever heard in a sitcom) including “ooh, that’s nasty”, seemingly an early attempt at a catchphrase. Apart from a running gag where he fell out of the bath in every other episode, it was clear that he would need to have a little more excitement in his life to make it work.

So by the time The Cleveland Show launched, things had changed a little. He had divorced Loretta, and then he moved away to live with his new family in the small town of Stoolbend (how amusing!), meaning that he would no longer appear regularly in Family Guy. By this point he had married his old High School sweetheart Donna, and he still had Cleveland Jr (although he didn’t seem to be the original Cleveland Jr, and he now looked a lot like Peter).

There were also Donna’s children from a previous marriage, the teenage daughter Roberta, and the son Rallo, who was about five-years-old but had something of an attitude. Cleveland also makes a new group of friends, including Terry, Lester, and Holt, and for some reason his next-door neighbours are a family of talking bears. We also meet Cleveland’s parents for the first time, the joke seeming to be that he looks more like his mother than his father.

Episodes featured things such as Cleveland at work in his new job at a cable installation company, and what the children got up to at school. Cleveland would also meet lots of people including the rapper Kenny West. The Cleveland Show was first shown in this country on E4, and then it moved to ITV2 when Family Guy and American Dad did, where is it still repeated rather frequently in a late-night slot.

There were four series of The Cleveland Show, and when it came to an end after 88 episodes in 2013, Cleveland had little option but to move back with his family to Quahog, which led to several in-jokes about his show flopping by comparison to the long-running original, and you can imagine how well he took that. Rather frustratingly, only the first two series have been released on DVD, but they do contain lots of extras including deleted scenes. I would definitely buy the other two if they were ever released.

The Top Ten Pieces Of 2019.

Let’s start the year by taking a look at my ten most viewed blog pieces from last year, to see exactly what people were most interested in out of everything I’ve done. However, none of my top ten were actually published in 2019, as some older pieces remained popular. Here’s what they were… 2019


The mid-90s CITV horror game show that was hosted by Steve Johnson still has a big fanbase it seems, although people do often mix it up with the similar CBBC show Incredible Games, which was great too. vlcsnap-00046


My piece on this show actually wasn’t focused on what it was about, partly because it’s well-known and still going, and it’s about to reach the 21st anniversary. I concentrated more on the publicity surrounding the launch of Family Guy in the UK when it came to Sky One in 1999, and unsurprisingly it was sold as “if you thought The Simpsons were dysfunctional, just wait until you see this lot!”.fg0001


Again, this show is so popular I didn’t really need to do a piece explaining its premise, so instead I did two pieces revealing my ten favourite one-off characters, the first of which has done very well. vlcsnap-01669


Although I am not hugely interested in weather forecasts, the characters that were used to introduce them on ITV in the late-90s called The Weathergens was a remarkable piece of TV presentation. I decided to analyse each one, as I had a feeling that this piece would be consistently popular, which turned out to be correct. vlcsnap-00694


The zany CBBC sketch show from the mid-2000s. When I was putting the piece together, I realised that about a decade on some of the sketches and their catchphrases had acquired cult status, which must be why a lot of people were attracted to this one. vlcsnap-00672


This is actually my most-viewed piece of them all (and I have now done almost 900). I’m not sure why this 90s game show with Des O’Connor is so popular, but it’s pleasing to know that people have enjoyed it. vlcsnap-00050


My piece on the long-gone Channel 5 soap has done very well recently. Again it’s proof that you can never tell what’ll become a success. Maybe people really like my anecdote about someone who I went to school with being in the cast for a while. I wonder how many other people can boast about that. affairs0001


I am always hoping that people will take interest in my pieces, and they will attract a bigger audience by people spreading the word. I noticed that my piece about CBBC’s The Nelly Nut Show had been linked to in a Buzzfeed article about children’s TV which gave it a big boost. And anyway, it’s just a great show, plus someone who was in the cast replied as well, and I was really pleased about that. vlcsnap-00160


This is one of the few game shows that I have reviewed that is actually still running on TV. Every time there is a big win on the show, there is a surge in views for the piece from people who have done an online search to discover what the largest amount ever won is, and it’s flattering that most of them turn to me.


It’s £57,500.


When I decided to set up this blog five years ago, it was mostly to share my memories of game shows, children’s TV, and sitcoms. It never really occurred to me to do much about music. But since the Bananarama incident, I wanted to discover some more pioneering women who made music in the 80s. So I did a piece about the career of the remarkable Danielle Dax, and then I did another to coincide with her 60th birthday in 2018. Despite that, I did feel that it was too niche a subject to have that much mass appeal. But would you believe it, by some margin it became my most-viewed piece of 2019 (with almost 600 views), and it’s now my second most-viewed piece of them all, only behind Take Your Pick. One odd thing I have discovered about her since doing the piece is that her song “Flashback” was used as the theme to BBC2’s coverage of Crufts in 1996. I am really thrilled at the interest in this one, Danielle is a star and it’s good to know that lots of people around the world are still fond of her. That really is fantastic. Why don’t you let me know your favourites too? dd111

Happy New Year!

More TV Memories – Family Guy.

“It seems today that all you see is Family Guy on TV…” so the opening theme (almost) goes. But this isn’t going to necessarily be a piece about my favourite episodes or characters as such, it’s going to more be about the history of the scheduling and promotion of Family Guy when it was first shown in the UK in 1999.

There were already a lot of great animated sitcoms on TV at the time including The Simpsons, South Park and King Of The Hill. Somewhat unsurprisingly when Family Guy launched a lot of the publicity consisted of “if you think that the Simpsons are crazy, just wait until you see this lot!”, and the fact that the creator of the show and provider of some of the voices was newcomer Seth MacFarlane who was only 25 at the time. We first met the Griffin family in the UK when the first episode was shown on Sky One on 21 September 1999 at 8:30pm. fg0001

The main characters included Peter who worked at a toy factory, who some viewers complained was just a Homer Simpson clone, Brian the talking dog, and there was also the one-year-old son Stewie who has an English accent and originally was something of a nasty and matricidal character, but he has changed over time into a rather camp inventor of time machines. fg0003

I still have a few articles about the launch, including one from Melody Maker (which incorrectly refers to the show as The Family Guy throughout). I will always associate Family Guy with the animated science-fiction sitcom Futurama, because it launched in the UK on the same day. This actually gained more publicity at the time because it was the first new show created by Matt Groening, the brain behind the massive success of The Simpsonsfg0002

I still remember watching the earliest episodes, with the famous cutaways already established. It is a surprise how scruffy the animation on the early episodes is compared to now, but they still look better than the first series of The Simpsons which looks like it was drawn with crayons now. In more recent years even Family Guy referenced the launch with an episode called “Back To The Pilot” which mocked the animation mistakes, unsettled characterisation, and a different actress providing the voice of Meg. fg0004

I did like Futurama and Family Guy and watched regularly, even going as far to buy the first series when it was released on VHS. Yes, it was that long ago now. Family Guy was first shown on terrestrial television in the UK in August 2000 on Channel 4 but they really didn’t know what to do with it. For a while it was shown at 6pm (the same timeslot in which they now show The Simpsons), and after a while it oddly got moved to the afternoons, meaning it ended up being edited. vlcsnap-01335

The first episode of Family Guy was shown in America in January 1999 after the Superbowl so it attracted big ratings. After a few series though it was cancelled, but good DVD sales meant a revival, and the show continues to this day, with another new series starting in America soon. After a while Sky One and Channel 4 stopped showing Family Guy and it moved to the BBC, with BBC3 repeating episodes endlessly on an almost daily basis and the show finally gaining in popularity. fg2

After the success of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane went on to launch a second animated sitcom, American Dad. Soon Family Guy will be shown on ITV2 for the first time, presumably they think that they are going to have success with the show. Do Sky One and Channel 4 now regret losing the show? I can’t believe that I have been a fan of Family Guy for almost 16 years now.