Cleghorne aired from September 1995 until January 1996 on The WB.
Ellen ( Ellen Cleghorne), was a stylish, black, single parent living on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her smart-mouthed daughter Akeyla (Cerita Monet Bickelmann). With her partner Brad ( Steve Bean, who was in the opening credits for the show but rarely seen on camera), she ran a small tv commercial production company in the SoHo section of lower Manhattan. Life got complicated when her overbearing parents Lena and Sidney( Alaina Reed-Hall, Garrett Morris), and lazy, unemployed 25 year old sister, Victoria( Sherri Sheppard), moved into the apartment next door. Tyrell ( Michael Ralph), Akeyla's father, whom Ellen had never married, was a Jamaican-born cabdriver trying to avoid deportation, who harbored delussions of racial persecution. In her free time Ellen hung out at Piccolo's, a local restaurant where Coral ( Cathy Silvers), was the sarcastic bartender.
A Review from Variety
((Sat. (9), 8:30-9 p.m., WB Network))
By TODD EVERETT
So far, that exclamation point is the most exciting aspect of the show. Though Cleghorne has personality to spare, she's jammed into a standard sitcom storyline full of generic characters. Ellen Carlson is the smart, motivated single mother of precocious pre-teen daughter Akeyla (Cerita Monit Bickelman), starting a small business in New York as her smothering parents move into the apartment next door.
Filmed in Los Angeles by Pepoon, Silverman, Sustarsic Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Executive producer, Steve Pepoon; co-executive producers, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic; producers, Nancylee Myatt, Coral Hawthorne; director, Stan Lathan; script, Pepoon, Silverman, Sustarsic; camera, Mark Levin; editor, John Doutt; production designer, David B. Sackeroff; sound, Bruce Peters; music, Tom Rizzo. Cast: Ellen Cleghorne, Garrett Morris, Alaina Reed Hall, Steve Bean, Cerita Monit Bickelman, Michael Ralph, Sherri Shepherd, Ronald William Lawrence. One of the brighter lights to emerge (or escape) from the past few seasons of "Saturday Night Live," Ellen Cleghorne comes to the Warner Bros. Network with more than just a sitcom tailored to her standup act. Everybody who's come within a block of the Comedy Store has one of those, it seems, but only Cleghorne has her own exclamation point: "Cleghorne!" Ellen's parents and sister seem cast for their contrasting physical types, rather than any appearance of being an actual family.
Lanky Ellen is surrounded by towering mother Lena (Alaina Reed Hall), relatively diminutive father Sidney (Garrett Morris) -- any similarity to "The Jeffersons" probably isn't accidental -- and stay-at-home sister Victoria (Sherri Shepherd), who dreams of being a model. Michael Ralph is featured as Ellen's ex-husband, Jamaican cabby Tyrell, and Steve Bean is Brad, Ellen's partner in what's billed as a commercial production company -- so why are they writing copy?
Much of the goings-on are as unlikely as little Akeyla's familiarity with "Rain Man." Ellen is trying to avoid her mother but gives her a key to the apartment; a door is broken through the two apartment's walls without Ellen having been consulted first.
Sidney is as devoted to his work with the post office as "Cheers' " Cliff Clavin was. "Big day," he gushes. "Brooklyn's got a brand new ZIP code!" Still, it's good to see Morris back on TV again.
Potentially sharp running gag finds Tyrell blaming society for his economic woes, which Ellen will have no part of: "The white cab drivers make twice as much as I do," he sneers. "You know why?" To which she rejoins "Because they work more than two days a week?"
Tyrell dismisses Ellen's current boyfriend, Harley (Ronald William Lawrence), who is one-sixteenth white. Harley isn't bothered by Tyrell; after all, he reasons, "my people have oppressed his people for 200 years."
Aside from a noticeably wobbly wall on one set, show looks OK.
A Review from The New York Daily News
Wb Comedies Are A Joke & That's Not Funny
BY ERIC MINK
Thursday, September 07, 1995
THREE NEW comedies premiere Sunday night on the WB not-even-remotely-close-to-a-network, and . . . how to put this delicately . . . the world would not suffer if all three were to vanish in the mushroom cloud of a 30-megaton nuclear ex plosion.
I'm sorry. Is that harsh? Let's see what we really have here:
Working backward, there's "Cleghorne!" at 9:30 (WPIX/Ch. 11 locally), which proves that, given enough TV channels, someday everyone may have a show with their name in the title.
It stars Ellen Cleghorne, recently departed from "Saturday Night Live," as a single New York woman dealing with exasperation on four fronts: her meddling mother, ignorant father and apparently mentally deficient sister, who move into the apartment next door; her daughter, who's annoyingly cute, annoyingly vocal and smarter and more mature than her mother; her startup video-production business, including an apparently inept partner, and her love life, complicated by the irresponsible, racist father of her child and her upstanding boyfriend, who's one-sixteenth white but not, he reassures her, where it counts.
As the title character, Cleghorne shows no evidence of being able to bring life to a character outside of the one-dimensional sketches in which she worked o n "SNL."
In her defense, however, it also would be hard to imagine a more poorly written, less funny half-hour of television; thanks, executive producers Steve Pepoon, David Silverman and Stephen Sustarsic.
Then again, the season's just starting.
That "Cleghorne!" overflows with distasteful racial stereotypes Ellen's father (played by Garrett Morris), a postal worker capable of speaking only in zip codes when he's not stealing lumber from nearby construction projects, is one of them only serves to underscore the startling awfulness of this show.
A tad better, but not much, is "First Time Out" (Sunday at 9), starring Jackie Guerra as Jackie, an appealing Yale-educated single woman working as a receptionist in a hair salon and sharing an L.A. apartment with two predictably wacky friends.
Jackie's Latin heritage is noted, but it's treated as a simple fact and not made the focus of the show. That's a sign of progress for TV. Jackie's ample girth is noted, however, and the pilot episode suggests that it may remain a focus of the show. That's tiresome, as are the numerous sex lines, which include references to hair in teeth.
The third show of this bunch is actually watchable. "Simon" (Sunday at 8:30) qualifies as a professional effort it's written by executive producer Danny Jacobson ("Mad About You") but its premise gets old even before the end of the first episode.
This does not bode well for a weekly series.
The show stars Harland Williams as Simon, a really dumb but likeable guy with a remarkable knowledge of and instinct for TV. "Forrest Gump," "Rainman" and, more relevantly, the Peter Sellers movie "Being There" come to mind.
Simon, who shares a rattrap apartment in a Harlem tenament with his newly unemployed brother, Carl (Jason Bateman), miraculously lands a job as vice president for programing at a cable-TV channel that plays repeats of old TV shows.
Virtually all the gags and jokes arise out of Simon's literal response to everything and his knack for besting jerks who supposedly are smarter than he is. Keeping the laughs fresh in weeks to come, though, will be the real miracle.
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