CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled look at all the networks' new shows to bring you news of the latest TV Land sitcom, "The Soul Man," premiering at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The shows stars Cedric the Entertainer as R&B superstar-turned-preacher Rev. Boyce "The Voice" Ballentine, a character that first appeared on a season two episode of "Hot in Cleveland" (as a marriage counselor to Betty White's Elka). Because of that, this show, created by Cedric and "Cleveland" creator Suzanne Martin, is being billed as a spin-off.
Like other shows in the TV Land brand, it stars familiar faces from other long-running shows. In addition to Cedric, who starred on Welch native Steve Harvey's "The Steve Harvey Show," there's Niecy Nash ("Reno 911"), as his wife, Lolli; John Beasley ("Everwood") as his retired pastor father, Barton; and Wesley Jonathan ("What I Like About You") as his younger brother, Stamps. Jazz Raycole rounds out the cast as his teenage daughter, Lyric.
Cedric is, well, an entertainer, and he knows how to be funny. There might not be any sidesplitting jokes in the show, but the two episodes I saw had plenty of laughs.
For instance, when Lolli suggests playing good cop/bad cop against their daughter, Boyce replies, "This time we both play bad cops -- and I'm talkin' 'Training Day!'"
Also, Boyce sometimes has quick conversations with God. Once, before he and his wife have sex, he warns the big man, "Now, God, you're gonna hear your name a lot. We're not asking for help; we're just saying thank you."
Just because Boyce is a minister, though, doesn't mean religion overwhelms the show. As with ABC's gone-too-soon "GCB," church provides the setting but it isn't the only focus.
"The Soul Man" wouldn't survive on a network, but on cable, where the ratings stakes are lower, it has a chance to thrive. If you're looking for new laughs amidst all of this summer's reruns, give "The Soul Man" a try.