The Cleveland Show Season 4 Review “Crazy Train”

For the big season finale, we got a double dose of “The Cleveland Show,” as we did with everything else across the board, also including “The Simpsons” (which itself featured “TCS” and “FG”-creator Seth MacFarlane) and “Family Guy”. All of which made for a bit of an embarrassment of riches, given that we’re talking a solid three hour block of back-to-back MacFarlane-related material. So, how did “Cleveland” fare, given that it’s the lone offering of MacFarlane’s that may not survive another season?

Well, as was often the case over the years, anyway, the results were a bit scattershot, but still reasonably entertaining. One thing I will say is that, given that the show was well aware of its possible fate ahead of production of the final episodes- enough to crack wise about it on the show itself- “Cleveland” did seem to go for broke a bit overall in these last few shows.

First up was “Crazy Train,” which referred to character LaVar ‘Freight Train’ Brown, Cleveland’s dad. As one might glean from the title, we saw LaVar go a bit nuts on the episode, but with somewhat unexpected, and definitely loopy results. Right off the bat, we had an acknowledgement of the show’s potential fate, when Cleveland stated: “Me and the guys had some high-jinks that got canceled,” as he set aside some women’s clothing.

Then we went into one of my favorite examples of the show’s offbeat humor, the esoteric fourth-wall breaking that has been the show’s trademark time and again, especially this season. Cleveland went into a flashback, but adult Cleveland remained within the scene with his younger self and was able to communicate with him. “Buy stock in Apple!” he shouted to him frantically, once he realized what was happening. “Lots of applesauce?” said young Cleveland, obliviously. Cut to: a return to present day, with scads of apple sauce appearing on the shelves where they weren’t before. Pretty funny stuff, and actually kind of subtle (especially by this show’s standards), as the episode didn’t really put the results in your face too much.

The main plot revolved around the impending car show, the “How Low Can You Low Low-Rider?” assembly, which specialized in hydraulically-insane cars. LaVar wanted to enter his car in the show, and Cleveland had always wanted to go with him, but finding his son a bit of embarrassment, he refused to let him. Cue a head injury, at which point, LaVar starts acting completely out-of-his-mind, but with one caveat: he started being nice to Cleveland for a change. As such, Cleveland was inclined to let him stay that way, despite his incredibly wacked-out behavior.

Some of LaVar’s dialogue was pricelessly bonkers, and must have been fun to write. For instance, at one point, he started raving about aliens getting into his head, prompting his solution to the whole prevention of such, which typically would include wrapping one’s head in tin foil, but here resulting in his slathering peanut butter onto his head: “Peanut butter is nature’s tin foil,” he explained. Good to know, LOL.

This continued throughout the episode, with lines like: “Alright, now I gotta light my butt fuse for extra power” and so forth. Also contributing to the issue was LaVar’s unorthodox pill-taking, which included generic boner pills and lots more where that came from. I’ll let Dr. Fist explain: “You father created a dangerous cocktail of drugs, you see. They’re like 22-year old girls: Individually, they’ll do wonders for you, but when you put them altogether in the back of a limo to Atlantic City, you’re liable to go crazy.”

Eventually, LaVar goes back to his normal behavior, and isn’t thrilled when Cleveland shows up to the aforementioned car competition, with his own dubious entry, cranking up the…Melissa Etheridge? “Check out my grill,” he enthused, “George Foreman! Plugged it into the battery. Hit a couple of rabbits on my way here, ate ‘em. Don’t feel well. What is tetanus?”

Gus also had an entry of sorts, which garnered some praise, but for his last out-there joke, guest star David Lynch went out as weirdly as he came in. “I don’t have hydraulics,” he explained. “Those were ghosts in there!” Alrighty then!

Cleveland had some moves of his own, as his car might have been a little on the geeky side, but had some sick bouncing moves, which he created for the comp, including the “Christina Hendricks is late for the bus”-move. (I’d like to see that one for real!) Cleveland ultimately ends up concussing himself, along with one of the female models, who a guy pinches on the butt with an amusingly cartoonish “Boing!” sound.

The incident ultimately brings the two closer together as LaVar rushed him to the hospital and mans the room by his side as he recovered. Though he’s clearly softened on Cleveland a bit, which made for some nice closure for the characters in what might be the final season; he wasn’t above still punching him in the face when he said something stupid! “Shut up, fool!” Funny stuff.

More of a mixed bag was the secondary plot line with Rallo and Cleveland Junior, who high-jack a cherry picker from a construction site and use it to do good deeds throughout their neighborhood, where the kids mistake it for a “magical giraffe.” I liked Rallo’s explanation as to how he was able to start the machinery up: “Every boy under the age of seven knows everything about trucks and dinosaurs. Then we forget it all when we discover ‘Star Wars’ and later, boobies.” True that.

I also liked the “scaredy-cat” subtitles with CJ and the cat in a tree, the bit with the teddy bear (“I’m back! For revenge! I’m kidding. I’ve been in Heaven. It’s beautiful!”), and the part where the kids link arms in solidarity to save the picker when the construction guys come after it, planning on selling it for scrap and then the kids burst into the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas”-song. “What happens if we crush the kids?” asks one worker. “PR nightmare for two weeks, then America returns to watching ‘The Voice’.” says the other, hilariously. Nice button at the end, too, when the kid falls off the picker to his death and Rallo and CJ walk away sheepishly.

So, some nice moments here and there. Yes, the B-story with Rallo and CJ was a bit slight, but the stuff with Cleveland and his dad was great and I loved LaVar’s nutty dialogue. It was also nice to see Cleveland get some much-needed closure with his oft-standoffish dad. I also always get a kick out of Dr. Fist, aka “Breaking Bad”-star Bryan Cranston. (Check here for my review of show number two.)

What did you think of “The Cleveland Show”? Did you prefer LaVar and Cleveland’s antics or Rallo and CJ’s? How about the car show stuff? (I thought the announcer was pretty funny.) Sound off in the comments!