After exchanging a few Twitter comments with Ethan Winters, I decided to give some of my thoughts about the initial episodes of The Cleveland Show, and the evolution of Family Guy.
To start with, The Cleveland Show is oddly compelling, and I can't quite explain why. It is essentially a new version of Family Guy; the tone and music feels very similar, unlike American Dad, which is more like its own show. Cleveland is surprisingly fleshed out as a full character, and the show is a lot more wholesome than Family Guy. Granted, that isn't saying much, but Cleveland is a surprisingly decent role model for the other family members.
The supporting characters also make the show better, which is nice. Cleveland has a weird bear neighbor that's hilarious, as is the Stewie-like Rollo, another little kid who talks like an adult. There are a lot of little similarities between The Cleveland Show and Family Guy, but enough differences that I'll probably watch both.
Referencing back to the other point of this post, it is weird to watch some earlier episodes of Family Guy - especially the pre-cancellation episodes - and note how they have changed in tone. The early episodes mostly focused on Peter and Lois' relationship, and their relationship with other members of the family.
The newer episodes are guilty (although I still like them) of what South Park accused them of a couple years ago - Nothing but asides and random jokes and plotless episodes. The best examples are the episodes focused solely on Stewie and Brian, of which there are two to six a year now, it seems. This seems like a few too many, and I'd like to see the show do a couple more episodes on other characters.
Heck, the original plan of the show was to not be like The Simpsons, and to have the characters age and take new jobs and what not. With that spirit in mind, why not have Meg and Chris move up a grade in school? Or have Meg go to college, or have Peter get yet another new job, or have Lois do some weird Lois thing.
The picture from The Cleveland Show is a still from this site.