“Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down,” yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the rest. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran for six seasons on NBC putting then-young rapper Will Smith on the map. This family sitcom was the perfect vehicle for Smith to make a name for himself and now the sixth and final season is out on DVD thus bringing closure to fans and collectors of the popular show.
If you aren’t familiar with The Fresh Prince, then let me fill you in. Will Smith plays a fictionalized version of himself. In the first season, he is a street-smart teenager from Philadelphia who is a bit of a troublemaker. Concerned for Will’s wellbeing, his mother sends him to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in California’s ritzy Bel-Air area. Once there, issues arise due mainly in part because of Will’s rambunctious behavior clashing with the well-to-do’s rules of proper etiquette. Of course, hilarity ensues.
The show revolves around the Banks family and Will’s involvement with them. Uncle Phil is the patriarch, an overweight judge who often butts heads with Will. His wife, Vivian is the more understanding voice of reason. There are four children in the Banks home. They are Carlton, a preppy butt-kisser with a love for Tom Jones, Hilary, a ditsy California girl who has her own talk show, Ashley, an aspiring model and Nicky, the youngest son. There is also Geoffrey, the Banks’ sarcastic British butler.
The sixth season continues the series’ smart brand of humor placing Will in amusing scenarios episode after episode. The season starts off with Will almost burning the house down after a cooking mishap. Other episodes feature Will and Carlton competing for a job on Hilary’s show, handling disappointment, dating, losing virginity, gambling, volunteering at a homeless shelter, getting arrested, going to the gym, a hostage situation, politics, marital problems, getting “discovered”, college and career decisions, estranged family members, theft, playing golf, bonding, jealousy, moving on in life and William Shatner.
There is also a special behind-the-scenes episode in which Will takes viewers backstage to see the inner workings of the sitcom. Dick Clark also pays a visit to the set and he and Will show bloopers made by various members of the cast.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a great show that featured funny and endearing performances from its cast. The writing was witty and heartfelt and important family issues were presented. This was certainly a well-crafted sitcom and Will Smith helmed it beautifully. Over its six-season run, Will grew from a juvenile teen to a mature adult. By committing mistakes and experiencing life, he discovered himself and became a man.
Now one of Hollywood’s top leading men, Will Smith is an action star, a dramatic thespian and a humorous romantic. He is diverse and talented, a fact solidified by his work in The Fresh Prince. By the show’s last season, he had already made his big screen splash with the blockbuster buddy-cop auctioneer Bad Boys and he was also filming his second hit, Independence Day. After that, Smith became a hot commodity landing roles in numerous action, sci-fi, dramatic and comedic films. He has won numerous awards and been nominated for many others. He has found success in music, film and obviously television. Even his children are successful whipping their hair back and forth and karate kicking bullies.
Sitcoms today are pretty lame. There are a few exceptions though sadly for the most part they are pretty unoriginal. Family sitcoms in particular have been on a quick decline since the days of Full House and Home Improvement. The Fresh Prince was among the best 90s television had to offer. Great comedic timing and clever writing were the perfect ingredients that made this sitcom work. Season six is now out on DVD and I suggest anyone who appreciates quality TV to pick up this set, sit on their throne and enjoy.
DVD Bonus Features
Unfortunately, there are none.