Episode: The Cleveland Show 1.04 – “The Birth of a Salesman”
Original Air Date: October 18, 2009
Last week’s episode of The Cleveland Show, “The Birth of a Salesman,” focuses on two storylines: while Cleveland searches for a job and tries his hand at telemarketing, Rallo and Roberta set out to prevent Cleveland Jr. from making them look bad by constantly doing chores around the house without being asked.
Viewers are introduced to Cleveland’s job search when Cleveland tries to talk to his son, Cleveland Jr., about “eating a little slower… and not as much… and not so often.” In response Cleveland Jr. jokingly points out that his father could find a job, leading to a couple of painful flashbacks depicting some of the jobs that Cleveland has tried thus far. Fortunately, the anthropomorphic bear that lives next door to the Tubbs-Brown family is able to put in a “good word” for Cleveland at the cable station to get him a telemarketing position.
As the episode’s title implies, Cleveland Brown turns out to be a great salesman, outselling his neighbor during his first day on the job. While I have zero interest in Cleveland’s job search and telemarketing career, this storyline does provide us with an episode of The Cleveland Show in which Tim the bear is featured much more prominently. Unfortunately, more focus on Tim also means that we see more of his wife — who I tend to dislike. It struck me during a scene in which Cleveland, Tim, and Holt are at the Broken Stool that I would much prefer The Cleveland Show if I could remove Cleveland, Cleveland Jr., Donna, Lester and his redneck family, and Tim’s wife and call the show something else entirely. Despite the fact that Cleveland Jr. annoys me, I did enjoy Rallo and Roberta’s roles in the episode, especially the segment in which they set up a “celebrity roast” of their new stepbrother to help him get over the repressed pain of his parents’ divorce. Rallo is, as always, hilarious and this scene also shows Roberta to be something other than self-centered and bitchy, which is nice for a change.
Although I hate to admit it, I do have to give a little credit to “The Birth of a Salesman” for a veiled reference to the 1930s Hollywood actress Mae West (She Done Him Wrong, Belle of the Nineties, Klondike Annie). Even if the reference doesn’t specifically call out West’s name and could be described as somewhat disrespectful (it involves Mae West being beaten by Ike Turner in a black-and-white movie on the fictional television channel “Ike Turner Classic Movies”), I enjoy any reference made to this infamous Hollywood femme fatale.
The next episode of The Cleveland Show, 1.05 – “Cleveland Jr.’s Cherry Bomb,” will air on Fox on Sunday, Nov. 8th. Until then, visit the official Cleveland Show web site for episode recaps, video clips, and to read an interview with Mike Henry, one of the show’s creators.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars