'The Soul Man' Marks Stars' Comebacks
Comedians Cedric the Entertainer and Niecy Nash get the hit they deserve
Cedric the Entertainer and Niecy Nash are undeniably funny.
But that doesn't guarantee success in Hollywood. Although Cedric enjoyed a six-season run as a sidekick on The WB sitcom "The Steve Harvey Show" (1996 to 2002) and Nash delighted for just as long on Comedy Central's cop farce "Reno 911!" (2003 to 2009), neither has been able to find a small-screen hit of their own since.
That all changed when the new TV Land sitcom "The Soul Man" debuted last week to nearly 2 million viewers, the second largest premiere in the history of the basic-cable network.
A spin-off of "Hot in Cleveland," the comedy stars Cedric as Boyce "The Voice" Ballentine, an R&B singer who decides to change his life and become a preacher. Nash plays his devoted wife, Lolli, a woman who has to make some lifestyle adjustments now that she's the first lady of a congregation and not the flashy wife of a chart topper.
The couple also has a teenage daughter (Jazz Raycole), Boyce's father and the church's former minister (John Beasley, "Everwood"), and Boyce's slacker brother (Wesley Jonathan, "City Guys") to deal with on a daily basis. To make matters more funny, Boyce has to convince his parishioners he's the man for the job. Cedric created the show along with Suzanne Martin ("Frasier").
No, this isn't heady stuff. But that's one of the reasons viewers were drawn to "The Soul Man." It harkens back to an era when comedies were concise and free of cynicism.
Shortly before "The Soul Man" debuted, L.A. Times TV critic Mary McNamara praised the sitcom for its "charm" and its star Cedric, 48, for his "charismatic yet soothing presence." She also noted that Cedric and Nash, 42, were a believable couple.
That has to be career affirming for the two after the digs they received for duds such as "It's Worth What?," Cedric's failed game-show hosting endeavor, and Nash's supporting role in the mercifully short-lived, "Do Not Disturb."
But, hey. Sometimes it takes a few bumps and lumps before the laughs arrive.
"The Soul Man" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TV Land.