Last night was the TV Land series premiere of Soul Man, a spinoff of the show Hot in Cleveland, starring Cedric the Entertainer as former R & B star Boyce the Voice Ballentine, who becomes a minister after taking over as pastor of his father’s church. The show also stars Niecy Nash (and her boobs, I swear they were the focus of every scene and as such should probably be listed as a supporting role in the credits) as his wife Lolli, who is struggling to tone down her Vegas persona to fit in with the local church ladies.
The show’s first episode centers in part around Lolli’s efforts to unsuccessfully draw the church crowd to her new hair salon. The couples’ daughter, played by Jazz Raycole (best known as the disappearing Claire Kyle #1 from the first season of My Wife and Kids) is dealing with her own struggle in going from celebrity kid to preacher’s kid. We also meet Boyce’s father (John Beasley) and his younger brother, played by Wesley Jonathan, who has starred in a whole host of shows and movies like Roll Bounce and What I Like About You (but will always and forever be Jamal from City Guys for me).
I am ashamed to admit that I go into most new black sitcoms with my expectations bar set pretty low, and it unfortunately doesn’t often get raised above my ankles. Yet Soul Man was one of those new black sitcoms that is pretty solid. It isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it is good for some chuckles and seems to be off to a decent start.
Niecy and Cedric’s characters have good chemistry, and it is refreshing to see a black couple on screen that is loving without trying too hard. Boyce and his father have a good and believable relationship as the “prodigal son” and the dad welcoming him back into the fold, and the younger brother’s interjecting more humor into the dynamic made the three fun to watch.
I wasn’t sure what to think about daughter Jazz Raycole’s character. I’m sure her role will be fleshed out in later episodes, but for now she seems to only serve the purpose that television sitcom couples typically have kids. The show did have a few moments that bordered on corny; they laid the lesson on pretty thick, and maybe it’s just me but the choir singing at the end made me feel like I was watching an Amen rerun.
Even so, Soul Man, while it has a little growing to do, shows promise after the first episode. A good cast, an interesting storyline, and a little good, clean humor helps smooth over some of the show’s rough patches. I’ll be tuning in again next week.
BMWK family did you watch Soul Man? Will you be watching it again? Random Question: Who was the funniest King of Comedy? Share your thoughts in the comment section.