TV Land is quickly becoming the place for gentle adult humor. Its comedies don't break new ground, but they make you chuckle. And they feature entertainers that you enjoy inviting into your home.
"The Soul Man" (10 tonight, TV Land) doesn't change that formula. It's not particularly funny but stars people who embody funny even when the lines aren't sharp. You'll probably smile, in spite of yourself.
Cedric "The Entertainer" stars as Boyce "The Voice" Ballentine, an award-winning R&B star who gets the calling (from the Lord) and moves his family back to St. Louis to become a pastor, taking the post over for his pastor father (John Beasley). His wife Lolli, (Niecy Nash) is a busty firecracker who loves her man but may be too showy for her husband's Midwestern congregation. His daughter Lyric (Jazz Raycole, whose styling is awful) wants a "My Super Sweet Sixteen" kind of existence. Boyce's brother Stamps (Wesley Jonathan) is the family sinner and proud of it.
Much like that late 80s/early 90s sitcom "Amen," which also took place inside the black church, "The Soul Man" is light on the spiritual lessons and the scripture and heavy on the most familiar details -- church hats, great choir, catty women who desperately want to marry the pastor. Boyce does look toward the heavens to chat with God -- comically of course. But the show emphasizes that while he's a pastor, he's one with a past. Which explains why one chat with God happens while he has a spatula and a can of whipped cream in his hand just before he's to head upstairs for some fun with his wife.
The show is stocked with veterans. Nearly all of them have been on better written shows or films and so they can handle this stuff with one arm tied behind their collective backs. Cedric is nothing if not charming; Nash is her usually high-energy self.
Right now, the funniest part of the show happens over the end credits when some of Boyce's pre-pastor tunes play. Seems he was a Barry White crooner type with a Jheri Curl; we get to hear his hit "I Wanna Have Sex With You" : Oh baby it's time to lock the door, I wanna see that clothing hit the floor... The video is even cheesier.
"The Soul Man" has plenty of soul. Now it needs to get more jokes.