The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season Two

The cartoon spin-off comes of age with this hilarious boxset

Spin-off shows are difficult things to get right. For every Angel that comes along there seems to be about 10 Joeys - and nobody wants any more of them. All of which means that things didn't look too promising when Seth MacFarlane announced that Cleveland Brown would be leaving Family Guy and getting his own animated series.

But, against all of the odds, the first season of The Cleveland Show proved to be quite good. Not great, you understand. But definitely not the flop many were expecting. By the end of that first year the writing team seemed to be hitting a serious groove that hinted at plenty of promise for the show's future. Which brings us to this latest DVD release, cunningly timed to coincide with the third season hitting TV in the UK.

Having gone through its transitional period in the first season, this latest batch of 22 episodes feels more assured than ever. Right from the opening episode (Harder, Better, Faster, Browner) there's a clear shift up in gears with the show feeling more and more like its own thing. Wihin the space of two seasons, the show's creators have only gone and done an Angel, producing a spin-off that betters its parent show in almost every regard. It's sharper, funnier, less scattershot and fews more authentic in its emotional core. And the even better news is, from what's been broadcast here so far, it's only going to get better when the third season eventually rolls around.

Picture: Disappointingly there's currently no Blu-ray release of The Cleveland Show on the cards in the UK, meaning fans will have to make do with this four-disc release. Thankfully, we have no real problems to report with the DVDs' anamorphic 1.78:1 transfers. Colour are well saturated and stable, blacks are rock solid and lines are reasonably sharp. Motion artefacts raise their head from time to time, but they aren't particualrly intrusive if you aren't actually looking for them and are far removed from the ugly blocking that used to effect the early Family Guy discs. 
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The Cleveland Show is every bit as playful and its parent series when it comes to audio (witness the subtle use of the surrounds for audience noise during Cleveland Live!). And while not exactly bombastic, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are still sonically rich and boast impressive fidelity and tonality. Dialogue and music both hold of particularly well, with excellent separation and clarity throughout.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras:​ This four-disc set serves up a perfectly good collection of supplementary material. Every episode features a selection of deleted scenes, while seven of the episode are available to view in either TV broadcast or uncut forms (the differences mainly boil down to 'bleeped' dialogue). Various members of the voice cast and production team also recorded audio commentaries for five of the episodes, with filmmaker and guest star Robert Rodriguz joining them for the season finale Hot Cocoa Bang Bang.

Speaking of Robert Rodriguez, he and a variety of other guest stars (including Kanye West,, Carl Reiner and Justin Timberlake) are the focus of the 15min Guest Star Showcase, either in the form of behind-the-scenes footage or interviews. You can also check out the hilarious Cleveland Jr.'s Worry Journal animated short, the Hot Cocoa Bang Bang film trailer, a 31-min script reading and panel Q&A from Comic-Con 2010 and the 22-min Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Mike Henry.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: While we'd prefer a Blu-ray release, this DVD set serves this superior spin-off extremely well.

20th Century Fox, R2 DVD, £25 approx, On sale now