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Thoughts On Cedric The Entertainer's History-Making TV Land Series 'Soul Man'?

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
July 2, 2012 1:44 PM
22 Comments
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Soul man cast

After last week's news that the pilot episode of Cedric the Entertainer's original scripted sit-com for TV Land (The Soul Man) pulled in 1.9 million viewers during its 10pm time slot, making it TV Land's second highest-rated original series debut ever, naturally, I had to check it out for myself.

And, well, after watching the first 2 episodes over the weekend, I can't say that I'm itching to return for a third (it's customary for me to give new series 3 episodes before deciding on whether to write them off, or stick around).

I wonder if maybe it's because I'm not a regular TV comedy sitcom watcher, because the show just felt quite dry to me. I probably laughed once or twice, although more like chuckles than outright laughter, and I just wasn't moved strongly in any direction.

After watching both episodes, my immediate reaction was just to shrug at it all.

I suppose it's more of a family show, but that doesn't mean it has to be so tame and dull.

I'd say it's probably a case of weak writing, because I think there's enough acting/comedy talent in the starring cast here, to make for an enjoyable 30 minutes of entertainment (more like 22 when you include all the commercial breaks), and I can't help but feel that the are all being under-used here, or more like misused. 

Cedric's a funny guy! I've seen his stand-up routine, and he's got jokes. I laugh hard. Here, as much as he tries to keep things bouncy, he seems restricted, and I wish the writers/producers would just let him loose to do what he does best, while still keeping things PG; Same for co-star Niecy Nash who plays his wife on the show.

The opening credit sequence is actually one of the show's highlights, as short as it is. 

So, in short, meh... happy for Cedric and company, but the material doesn't grab me nor hold my attention.

The series is a spinoff of Hot in Cleveland, and stars Cedric as Rev. Boyce "The Voice" Ballantine, a former R & B singer turned minister, who takes over his father's church.

Jazz Raycole plays his daughter Lyric, John Beasley as Boyce’s father, Barton, and Wesley Jonathan as his brother, Stamps.

The Soul Man has been heavily marketed to African American audiences, with the intent being to attract new audiences to the network.

And based on the numbers for the first 2 weeks, it looks like it worked.

The new series airs Wednesdays 10/9c on TV Land.

You can watch the first 2 episodes on TV Land's website HERE.

If you've been keeping up with the series, your thoughts?

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22 Comments

  • Robert | September 26, 2012 6:08 PMReply

    I think the damn show is great and I am glad to see a black sitcom back on the airways of all places I would not have expected it to be on TVland though. I think Cedric and Neicy make a wonderful team and are great together. It is nice to finally see black people portrayed in a positive image and not being shown as thugs and criminals. Congrats to Cedric and Neicy I hope the show is long standing. I will be sure to watch each episode. The only way the shows will stay on is if we turn on.

  • N Coles | September 7, 2012 10:08 AMReply

    All of you picky people need to get over it or start making the kind of series that you think we should be making! All of you sound like back in the day, when our own folks coined the phrase, 'Black Exploitation'. All that did was put a lot of brothers and sisters out of work, instead of us trying to find a way to make this thing work better with films. The white media ran with that 'Black Exploitation' and that was all she wrote!
    This is Soul Man's first time out and I like the show. I don't care how many of you say, "Oh yeah, it's been done already", but this is the kind of comments that causes the TV moguls not to really make anything pertaining to us. Hey, maybe you're those folks that have gotten quite use to having the TV programs where there is only one black person and a Chinese and you're fine with it because we''re included in some way and the writing is okay.
    Soul Man is not perfect, but it's okay and a beginning. I'm not one of those person's either who thinks, well, the writing is not that good but at least there's black people in it. If that was the case, I'd be one of Tyler Perry's biggest fans. Cedric is working it.with him and that lovely cast. Critics are important, I don't disagree. But if you know anything about ourselves, you also know we can be our own worse critics sometimes. Keep it going Cedric and I'm looking forward to you and the cast's next season. Keep the Faith!

  • Texan | August 12, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    I watch very little on TV. This is one show that I look forward to watching. I hope it continues. It is nice to have a show that has a family that likes each other and forgives each other and moves on. It is a light-hearted comedy and that is nice for a change. It doesn't push an agenda down your throat. I do agree with one commenter that Neicy Nash needs to show less cleavage. Love the mix of personalities on the show.

  • Dee | July 29, 2012 8:58 PMReply

    It 's okay.....Neicy Nash needs to show less clevage.....

  • Lola | July 19, 2012 1:36 AMReply

    LOOOL did anyone recognize the house from "Sister, Sister" at the beginning of the series? That was probably the best thing about the first 5 minutes of the show. -_- Oversexualized from the first line- "Baby, I wanna have sex!" I'm a young one (20), but even I know that does nothing but perpetuate the stereotypes of us of the African Diaspora.

  • lisa | March 29, 2014 12:15 AM

    It sure it's the same house!!!! I wonder if that house it's real or if it's an old clip of a fake house. The church looks like the one from Amen tv show from back in the day with the man from the Jeffersons.

  • Reese | August 3, 2013 12:42 PM

    Lmbo! I thought the same thing!

  • joe | July 6, 2012 11:29 PMReply

    Why is t.v. land creating original series anyway? They are lame yes, but t.v. land was supposed to be a station that showed the classic t.v. shows from the past that were funny. They lost their focus and lost me as a viewer.

  • Eboni | July 6, 2012 1:52 PMReply

    This show is not for us. It's for my mom. Over 50, leaning on the conservative side, church-going but story savvy enough to not like Meet the Browns. What you call tame and dull, she calls safe and familiar.

    While we forward-moving, culturally current black folks are looking for humor to tickle our intellect, my momma is looking for something that won't offend her old school sense of comedy. You may not like it. And I won't watch it, unless I'm over her house. But keep in mind, that TV Land's core demo will like this show just fine.

  • Jye Brown | July 6, 2012 7:59 AMReply

    I have to agree with the writer of this article. The show feels a bit dry to me but not as bad as "House of Payne". I will keep on watching it because: It's a black show and we don't have enough of them on TV to even let one slip through the cracks; It stars Cedric, my home boy from St. Louis; there's nothing else new/good to watch on a summer wednesday evening; and lastly, I'm sure it's gonna get better. My suggestion, let's stick with it this season and see how it goes (I did the same thing with Jada Pinkett's show and it never did get any better so I just didn't watch the second season at all), hopefully it will get funnier:-).

  • SayNay | July 2, 2012 11:34 PMReply

    Soul Man is okay. It's not hilarious. Like another poster said, it makes you chuckle if nothing else. One thing I will say though is that TVland and a lot of the other cables like USA and ABCFamily have done a damn good job of filling a niche....i.e. the "there's nothing on and I don't want to watch a reality show, so I'll watch this" brand of tv. Especially in a rubbish economy where folks are getting out on vacations, etc. like they used to, those who won't read a book can at least wax nostalgic on some really campy tv.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 2, 2012 8:28 PMReply

    I agree, Tambay, that the show elicits more chuckles than genuine laughs, but I like it for what it is -- a cookie-cutter sitcom that tries for a punchline every other line (hit or miss is subjective). It's essentially a CBS sitcom airing on TVLand; old folks don't like their funnies to be too complex. It should also be pointed out that Cedric is one of the writers (head writer, perhaps?) on the show; he'll have to self-unleash if that's to occur. All in all, I'm down for any shows about "us" that aren't coonish. And yes, I'm referring to the shows of one Citizen Coon.

  • jeni | July 2, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    Saw it On Demand. The writing was trite, and didn't hold my attention. It's a shame, because Niecey and Cedric have comedic chops. The single lady with a crush on the pastor had the best lines on the show.

  • juliette | July 2, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    Add my voice to the not very funny chorus. I was cautiously optimistic because I think Cedric is kinda funny. But the writing is uninspired and not very funny. I'm not surprised that it had high ratings though - Black people seem eager to embrace comedies featuring Black people. Not the same reaction to dramas though - wonder why that is?

  • Ncjohnso | July 2, 2012 3:43 PMReply

    I also have 2 disagree with the general mood of the comments. I actually think the show is pretty funny and look forward to see how it develops. I am a college student and still enjoy some of TV Lands newest shows.

  • Lost in the move | July 2, 2012 3:10 PMReply

    Ced is a grown azz man. Give him a grown man script. I would have the daughter character be fast, or rebellious, like teenager girls tend to be, especially newly converted PK's.

    I'll watch though. Usually get one laugh a show.

  • Tom Terrific | July 2, 2012 2:56 PMReply

    Thanks. I saw tons of billboards around NYC and was considering making some time in my schedule to check it out. I think you just saved me the hassle.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | July 2, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    I am going to have to agree. Cedric and this cast of actors are all talented but unfortunately they are relying on a cookie cutter formula that’s been done many times before. Why couldn't Cedric own his own business once he retired from Hollywood. In real life I believe I read Cedric is college educated and used to work in the insurance business before going to Hollywood. Why couldn't they use the relationship he had to rebuild with his oldest daughter whom he lost contact with while starting out in the business. He discussed all this in his recent Jet article; I was impressed with his discussions on his family and career. So why not use it on this show.

    I felt the same way about Scandal. The real life cases Olivia Pope dealt with had enough gossip and scandal and drama in of itself that Shonda didn't need to make up an affair with the President to keep it interesting. It's a good story plot and good chemistry between the actors but it's not really what Olivia Pope experienced. My point is I just think audiences want more realistic stories that they can relate to. I know I do.

  • Koko | July 2, 2012 2:22 PMReply

    I have to disagree, I really like the series. Ced and Niecey are amazing actors that I wish have a long-lasting run with this show. I think the best is yet to come with this series. You have to understand the audience on TV Land, old people and old souls like myself.

  • D | July 2, 2012 2:17 PMReply

    I miss Martin. Best Sitcom

  • troy | July 2, 2012 2:46 PM

    I do too. I honestly think Donald Glover is the only one who is young and black that could pull his own sitcom off. With a unique perspective on life and culture. Young black and proper, from the south, a rapper and an actor. All these black stars too old to make an impact.

  • Akimbo | July 2, 2012 1:47 PMReply

    Simply? It's bad. Detailed? ...Well, I went in on the last related post: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/cedric-the-entertainers-soul-man-is-tv-lands-2nd-highest-rated-original-series-debut-ever

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