“ Genre: Television - The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air / Suitable for 12 years and over / Actors: Will Smith, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana M. Ali ... / DVD released 2006-06-26 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' was a sitcom that ran for 6 seasons (1990-96). Widely known for starting up Will Smith's acting career (being previously known as a rapper), the show is regarded as a classic and is one of my favourite television shows ever. To this day I always try and catch the reruns whenever possible on whatever cable TV channel is airing them. At Christmas I treated myself to the third season of the show on DVD because, in my opinion, that season has many of the funniest episodes.
I'm pretty sure everybody knows the classic theme song explains the premise of the show, but just to clarify: Will Smith (Will Smith) is a street savvy teenager from West Philadelphia. After getting into a fight with some rough guys his mom sends him to live in Bel Air, California, with his Aunt Vivian (Janet Hubert Whitten) and Uncle Phil(James Avery) to keep out of trouble and have a better living. Will's streetsmart attitude contrasts largely with the Banks's upper-crust lifestyle, particularly putting him at odds with his dominating Uncle Phil, a lawyer (later judge) and his three cousins- snobby eldest daughter Hilary (Karyn Parsons), preppy and short middle child Carlton (Alfonso Riberio) and youngest now-teenager Ashley (Tatiana Ali), who is most influenced by Will's approach to life. The show mainly consists of Will adjusting to life at Bel Air, be it school or home- and wacky hi-jinks ensue!
This season is quite crucial in the 'Fresh Prince' timeline; Aunt Vivian is pregnant with her fourth child (!), Will and Carlton finish high school with the latter looking to go to Princeton, Hilary gets a job as a TV weathergirl and starts up a relationship with news anchor Trevor Collins and Uncle Phil runs for Supreme Court Judge against his former mentor.
There are 24 episodes of 'Fresh Prince' across 4 discs. For the sake of length I'm not going to go into detail about each, but I will highlight some of my favourites:
'How I Spent My Summer Vacation': The season premiere has Will arrive back in Bel-Air for the summer, bringing back his seemingly bad attitude to the Banks' household and ignoring his uncle's authority on more than one occasion. As usual Uncle Phil is disapproving, especially as Ashley is picking up on Will's bad habits. A funny episode, with a good ending where Will tries to justify his attitude and resistance to Uncle Phil's authority, which backfires in the end!
'Momma's Baby, Carlton's Maybe': Carlton is meeting up with a former girlfriend who brings him a surprise- a baby boy whom she claims is his! Whilst the family tries to get to grips with Carlton being a potential father, Carlton being a guy who "won't even let Barbie and Ken sleep in the same shoebox!" (Ashley), he comes to term with having his own family and one night decides to elope. I enjoy this episode because there is a lot of humour concerning Vivian and Phil learning the news and having to hear about their son's "sex life". Also, the ending is pretty sombre. I won't spoil it for you but Will for once is playing the straight man and delivering the moral.
'Best Laid Plans': Will wants to get "intimate" with his 'girlfriend of the week', but she refuses to have sex before marriage. So what does Will do? With the help of his friend Jazz (Jeffrey A. Townes) he pretends to get married to her so they can have sex with no problems! This does sound ridiculous but it's a perfect example of Will's womanizing, carefree attitude to women and sex. Fortunately Will does cave in and confess, with humorous results!
'A Night at the Oprah': The Banks family are invited to guest-star on 'Oprah'. Unfortunately Will isn't included in the invitation because he isn't immediate family, but he's so excited nobody has the heart to tell him until just before they're about to go on air! This episode features a guest appearance from Oprah Winfrey herself, and she acts really well as if she's naturally presenting her show and not acting in one. The climax in particularly is very funny as Will's disruption causes the Banks family to break down dysfuctionally on air instead of the perfect exterior Phil was trying to present to the world! Plus Carlton's dancing to the Oprah theme tune is to one of the show's funniest moments!
'Just Say Yo': One of the more serious episodes, Will is feeling the pressure of both school and social life as the prom approaches, so a friend of his offers some speed for a pick up. Will puts them in his locker (though not really intending to take them), but on prom night Carlton takes the speed because he mistakes them for vitamin pills which Will also had in there. He has a huge overdose and ends up in hospital. A very sad episode with Will wrestling with whether to tell Uncle Phil that Carlton's overdose was his responsibility, and there's a downer ending to boot. Fortunately this episode has its laugh-out-loud moments and even Carlton on speed has some humour until the effects catch up with him. It is evident here that 'Fresh Prince' could handle drama as well as comedy.
'The Baby Comes Out': The episode where Nicky is born! Vivian spends the first half of the episode having pains but no actual birth happening. When her contractions do start, most of the family are out of the house having got annoyed by Vivian's whinging! This episode is hilarious with the Banks family all unable to get to Vivian when the actual birth begins. Hilary, Carlton, and Vivian's sisters are at the Beauty Salon while Phil and Will are trapped at the elevator at the hospital (Philip had gone earlier for having "pains"). I liked the running gag of Vivian crushing whoever's hand (or object) she's holding onto during her contractions, causing them to go "My Hand!"
All the episodes have their funny moments, although some jokes are dated with 90s and/or American references but they aren't that common. The acting is great as well. Will Smith is perfect as the eponymous lead being more savvy and upbeat than the Banks family and has perfect comic timing. His supporting cast really carry things along too. I love James Avery playing the formidable but well-meaning Philip Banks, who we see is very much a father figure to Will over the course of the series for all the latter's fat jokes. Janet Hubert-Whitten is likewise a brilliant partner to Philip as Vivian Banks. Unfortunately we see less of her over the course of this season (she isn't even in the finale episode) and she is replaced from Season 4 onwards. Hubert-Whitten had a dispute with the producers and Smith regarding her attitude and pregnancy behind the scenes and as a result she refused to come back for the show in the following seasons. This is a shame because I liked her portrayal of Vivian as a no-nonsense mother and former professor who was the foil to Philip's overbearing nature, in contrast to her being a more submissive character when played by Daphne Maxwell-Reid for the rest of the series.
The DVD discs themselves play smoothly and have brightly coloured menus. They are pretty barren of features however, with only an audio commentary available. There are bloopers at the end of each episode but they go hand-in-hand and aren't part of the DVD features per se.
'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air' is a fantastic show and this season encapsulates some of its funniest moments. There are loads of funny moments throughout the episodes and the cast have a great dynamic, even if things weren't as rosy behind the scenes. If you're a fan of the show then by all means get this season first!
As of the date of this review, season 3 of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' can be found for as little as £8.99 new off base.com, but the price varies from website to website so make sure to shop around.
***NOW THIS IS THE STORY OF BEL-AIR...***
I will never, ever, ever forget this show. In fact, I bet that I will remember the fantastic soundtrack/opening song till my dying day, and will most likely be humming it on my deathbed! I have watched every single season/episode of the series, and Season 3 is by far my favourite. This season does not pick up where Season 2 left off (the last episode of the second season was the one where Will and Carlton decided to strip-tease for money), but it rather starts with some reminiscence over the first season. Will has gone back to Bel Air for his vacation and the first episode starts with his rather dramatic return back to the Banks household for more chaos. The reason why this season is my favorite is because of the extremely powerful chemistry that the actors have built towards each other; most likely as a result of having done three seasons together. No one can deny the closeness of the Banks family in this season, and yes, that does include Will. Also, I was really amazed by the high quality of acting- especially for something that was no more than a mere TV Show. I have never been fond of TV shows because I have often been greeted by some horrific acting or directing. But this one seems to deliver even better performances than some high-budget movie.
In this Season, Will is clearly one of the Banks'- albeit a couple of episode that hints at his initial discomfort with them. However, I think that this Season is nearly completely focused on Will and Carlton. These two grow closer than in previous episode, but by no means does it seem that their bickering and clashes will cease! The Season contains twenty-four episodes, and most of them are centered on Will and Carlton (and I have to say that these episodes are the funniest!). However, Hillary, Vivian, Philip and Ashley do get their share of the limelight, but I wish that they were a bit more developed. Philip Banks, for example, barely changed from the previous seasons. Vivian seems...well, plumper than usual, and Ashley was radically transformed as she is shown to be moving from childhood to the angst-filled teenage years. But I believe that my favorite character, Geoffrey, saved many episodes that somewhat lacked in laughs. I have rarely seen an actor who can master such irony and sarcasm, and yet come across as being so endearing. You just cannot help but feel a special attachment to the butler.
I also loved the manner in which the characters were shown to interact with each other under various circumstances/happenings. For once, the trouble-maker wasn't always Will. I think that this added another dimension to the Banks family, whereby you really get to experience the family from an insider's point of view. I believe that this is mainly due to Will's acceptance to the family, and since most of the show is from Will's perspective, his acceptance really draws the viewer in the family life. Both Vivian and Phil, for example, are shown to be rather flexible and affectionate as parents, and that comes as a surprise, especially after the initial distance that they seemed to have towards their kids in the previous episodes. Vivian is also pregnant in this Season and I believe that this provided the perfect excuse for some drastic personality change within her performance. However, I have to say that despite the strong chemistry shared by the actors, there doesn't seem to be any love lost between Will and Vivian. While the characters seem okay with each other, I have to say that there is a definite distance between the actors. I can't be sure but I guess that this might relate to the alleged arguments that occurred between Will Smith and Janet Hubert-Whitten (which is supposedly the reason why she was replaced in later seasons).
I have to say that I particularly admired Geoffrey and Hillary in this season. Both of them had some hilarious episodes and their humoristic performances often got me doubled over laughing in my seat. Carlton, however, had some more serious roles in this season. I agree that this was a bit of departure from tradition, and yet you cannot help but admire the actor's juggling between being goofy and being serious. I was really touched by the more sober roles, and some of them even made me tear up. Will, for his part, is truly shown to be something of an idiot at times. His mean streak comes across quite strong in this episode and I have to admit that there are times when even I couldn't stand him. But the good thing is that there always is a twist that makes you fall in love with boisterous Will all over again!
The relationship between Vivian and Phil is depicted on a much deeper level. Like I mentioned before, this also adds to the realism within the family unit. I particularly appreciated the fact that they were different from the typical, perfect family that we so often see in sitcoms. With their never-ending wealth set aside, I would say that the relationship between husband and wife were as realistic as it could get on television. Of course, there are lots of escapist elements which were enhanced by some rather artificial/shallow perspectives on their marriage, but these went along with the general tones of certain particular episodes. Jazz also appears more often in this season and I can guarantee lots and lots of hilarious laughs during these episodes!
Contrary to the slapstick humor and laughs provided in the first and second season, I have to say that this one has a rather darker and more serious undertone. The laughs are still here, but there are a few episodes where you can barely muster a smile. I couldn't help but feel that there were strong moral messages for a general teenage audience mainly about teen issues such as drug, sex, and similar elements. That made me appreciate the overall acting even more. The seriousness of the themes breathed fresher perspectives to the characters. I think that it's great that the show used its popularity to infuse certain important moral messages to its viewers. However, by no means does this reduce the comic aspect of the show. On the contrary, what I noticed was that the couple of serious episodes thrown in contrasted with the funny ones, hence bring more laughs. Twice a joke is no longer a joke and I really think that the saturation of humor would have gotten tiring in the end- even to die-hard Fresh Prince fan like myself!
(I want to include an episode breakdown with a review of each episode because the episodes drastically differ from each other and I do not think that a general review will cover the modd and atmosphere of all episodes)
***1) How I spent my Summer Vacation***
Will returns to Bel Air after having spent the summer in Philadelphia. He returns, however, with some of his old habits and dress style- much to Uncle Philips' annoyance. To make matters worse, the Banks host an important dinner that might mean a positive turning point in Philip's career. Uncle Phil was not, however, counting on Will's disrupting the party with his streetwise, grunge look and behavior. Exasperated, Will finally leaves the house...
I think that as a first episode, this one really did set the tone for the more serious issues to come. It was however, an altered repetition of the very first Fresh Prince episode, whereby Will can no longer integrate with the family. I felt that the acting was rather forced in this episode, and I guess that this might have something to do with the fact that the actors have developed too much chemistry towards each other- and Will therefore no seems as an outsider. But like I mentioned, I really cannot imagine a better episode to set the general theme for the season as a whole. I just wish they'd chosen a different plot, rather than repeating an old one.
***2) Will Gets Committed***
Philip and Vivian organize a cleanup in the remains of their old L.A neighborhood. Hillary, however, dreams of wealth and riches. Meanwhile, Vivian is gaining even more weight...
This was another hilarious episode. In stark contrast to the first one, this episode provided quite some laughs, based upon some rather shallow elements. Vivian and Philip's past are somewhat explored, but Hillary was depicted as her usual snobbish self. The actors did a marvellous job, but I really wanted another perspective on Hillary, instead of the classical spoiled girl that she depicts ever since the beginning of the show.
***3) That's No Lady, That's My Cousin***
Ashley is finally staring at Bel Air Academy with Will and Carlton. Too soon, Will realizes that his favourite little cousin is growing at an alarming pace. Things turn worse when Ashley decide to copy Will's numerous girlfriends in an attempt to attract guys. Will is far from being pleased. What will he do?
Aaaww, little Ashley is growing up! That was the first thing that came to my mind after watching this episode. I guess that most of us would relate to Will's feelings in this episode, since the beauty of it all is that, unlike with other characters, the audience really witnessed Ashley growing up. I think that this is one of the most emphatic episodes in the entire season. Tatyana Ali was typically marvellous as Ashley and I really believe that she did an outstanding job in depicting her coming of age episode.
***4) Hilary Gets a Job***
Hilary gets a job...as a weather girl. Can the shallow, spoiled brat of Bel-Air manage to rise to expectations and keep her job? Especially when she starts developing a crush on an anchor person...
Oh, goodness, I laughed so hard at this episode. I am certainly a little fed up of Hilary's constant depiction as being the spoiled, wealthy valley girl, but I couldn't deny that this provided quite a few laughs. Karyn Parsons was amazing in the role of Hilary. After Will and Geoffrey, she's certainly my third favorite actress in the show. I really appreciated the way in which she managed to infuse feelings in the rather shallow personality of Hilary in this episode.
***5) Mama's Baby, Carlton's Maybe***
Carlton is getting all hyper and ready for a dinner date with his former girlfriend Cindy, who- as the family constantly reminds him- dumped him very unceremoniously nine months ago. But when Cindy arrives with a baby that she claims is Carlton's, Carlton gets more than he bargained for. To top it all, her parents kicked her out and she's staying at the Banks' residence. How will Carlton, and the whole family cope with this new addition?
This is another funny, albeit serious episode. As Ashley said, "Carlton??! A father?!!! He won't even let Ken and Barbie sleep in the same shoe box!!!"
I have to say that the family's reaction to Carlton Junior was extremely funny. However, this is another episode that contained quite a strong moral undertone about teenage pregnancy, as well as the pressure on teenage boys to lose their virginity. I particularly loved the manner in which the messages were coated with laughs and humor, hence preventing the episode from becoming overly intense or serious. The whole cast was fantastic in this episode. Lark Voorhies played Cindy and she was quite stunning- albeit not at all the kind of girl you would imagine going out with Carlton!
***6) P.S. I Love You***
A political fight for the bench created a full-blown war between Uncle Phil and Judge Robertson. For his part, Will suddenly becomes the love interest of a plain, albeit extremely wealthy girl at school. She starts showering him with outrageously expensive presents such as a Harley Davidson, an expensive watch, among others- and gifts which Will accepts despite not liking the girl. How long is it until his conscience finally reprimands him?
Frankly speaking, this was among the episodes that I liked the least. It certainly is a good one with a few laughs but there was nothing particularly fresh or special about it. I don't know if it was due to the lack of plot interest but even the acting seemed lackluster. Will Smith was certainly disappointing, but I have to say that it was all due to the story as a whole. On another hand, Uncle Phil made up for the lack of laughs in the episode. His rivalry with Judge Robertson was priceless! Actually, Judge Robertson easily comes across one of the funniest recurring characters in the season, not unlike Jazz himself, and this particular episode really sets the tone for his personality in the forthcoming ones.
***7) Here comes the Judge***
The rivalry between Judge Robertson and Uncle Phil escalates. On the day that he publicly announces his running for judge, the police crash the ceremony and arrest Will for unpaid parking tickets. Will this affect Uncle Phil's campaign? What happens when Will discovers that his best friend, Jazz is the real culprit behind the tickets?
The addition of Judge Robertson to the show most certainly brought some fresh humor. This is quite a light episode, with some mild laughs but plenty of entertainment. The episode depicts a hilarious musical footage starring Will and Jazz and I personally feel this was a nice addition to the show. Their friendship is also put to test in this particular episode, and for once, Jazz is depicted as being a little more than just a provider of slapstick humor. I will never stop admiring the strong on-screen chemistry that these two friends share, and coupled with their powerful screen presences and charisma, I have to that that all these culminated to one of the best episodes ever!
***8) Boyz in the Woods***
Phil decides to take Will and Carlton on a camping trip for some male bonding before the boys set out for college. When a series of disasters- fueled by Will of course- turns the trip into a complete flop, the three of them are stranded in the middle of nowhere in icy snow. Will they survive the night? Meanwhile, Hilary decides to adopt a more "natural" look and have a romantic night in with her boyfriend Trevor. Jazz, however, decides to pay a little visit...
The episode was undoubtedly funny, but I didn't really like how they put both the Hilary and the Phil-Will-Carlton story in the same episode. I believe that both happenings had great potential to be developed in two different episodes. Also, the combinations of these two stories really crowded the episode a bit. However, like I mentioned, it was genuinely a funny episode. I particularly loved Hilary: Was there ever another character like her in the whole history of television shows?? If you don't have the time to watch all the episodes, I strongly recommend this one. There are laughs- but also depicts some more development in the relationship between Uncle Phil and Will.
***9) A Night At The Oprah***
The Banks are invited on The Oprah Winfrey Show. All of them are extremely excited about going, including Will. What he doesn't know, however, was that he hasn't been invited, and that there isn't any room for him to go. How will he react when he finds out?
Yes, the real Oprah does appear in this episode. And the Queen of Talk shows that she can certainly act as much as she talks! I really admire the manner in which the show occasionally throws in a couple of real-life celebrity; it really does help in captivating the audience's attention and admiration. Oprah was wonderful in the episode, and to top it all, she meshed really well with the Banks. What I loved the most was Will Smith's acting however. The episode provides yet another small reminder that Will is not really part of the Banks clan, and his reaction says a lot about his relationship to them.
***10) Asses to Ashes***
The rivalry between Philip Banks and Judge Robertson reach to its climax. Judge Robertson spitefully spreads lies about Uncle Phil and the latter fights to keep his cool. Election results are also in...who is the winner?
This was a decent episode, but not the best ever. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had certainly seen better. I have to say that this was more disappointing because I had initially admired and laughed at Roberson's addition to the cast. However, in what was supposed to be the climax between Phil and Roberson, there was a definite lack of laughs and humor. I personally think that this was due to the fact that Roberston's lines had gone quite stale. This is actually the third episode where he rather repeats the same dialogues from previous ones. It was certainly disappointing because after the huge build up to the elections, I was definitely expecting better performances and smoothness to the plot.
***11) A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum***
Vivian is heavily pregnant, frustrated and irritated. The fact that Uncle Phil constantly escapes Lamaze class only makes things worse. Will somehow tricks his own self into accompanying his aunt to Lamaze class, where he meets a pregnant, but brilliant and beautiful sports writer. When the latter takes Will to a long-awaited game, however, she delivers more than just a good time...
Now this was certainly a one of a kind episode! Will Smith literally exceeds expectation in this one. He again demonstrates his natural talent as a comedian as he is thrust in a somewhat unconventional role for a Fresh Prince character. I really like the overall theme of this episode. It firstly prepares the audience for Vivian's rapidly approaching delivery date, but also adds a completely new topic and idea to the story as a whole. I will not say more upon this so as not to give any spoilers away, but I can say that the episode depicts an idea that has been saturated in television shows...yet, all this happens with a marvelously refreshing and original twist.
***12) The Cold War***
Carlton is heartbroken. His serious girlfriend Paula dumped him. As he mopes about the house in a depressed state, Will is secretly going out with Paula. Carlton temporarily goes to live in the Pool House because of a cold that he caught from Paula- and things get dangerous for Will when the latter also mysteriously develops a cold too. Will Carlton know the truth or will all of it go down to coincidences? Meanwhile, Vivian and Phil get an envelope that will announce the sex of their baby but they decide to entrust it to Geoffrey and preserve the surprise. But curiosity finally gets the better of them...
This is another Will-Carlton bonding episode. As I mentioned before, this season is mostly focused on the two cousins, and the episodes that depict them are therefore quite intense in the depiction of their relationships. I think that the issues behind their argument is one that many would be able to relate to. However, the one thing that I didn't like was the artificiality behind the humor surrounding Will and Carlton. The ongoing Vivian-Philip happenings provide quite a lot of laughs and I personally feel that it would have been so much better if they'd let the laughs out of the Will-Carlton situation, instead of feebly attempting at humor. But it is still a great episode, mainly due to the rapprochement- or lack of rapprochement- that Paula will create between the two cousins.
***13) Mommy Nearest***
The Banks Residence is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Vivian's three sisters, including Will's mother. When she finally arrives and announces her breakup with her previous fiancé, Will is ecstatic. However, he soon learns that his mother expects him to return back to Philadelphia after his studies. He neither wants to go back, nor does he want to hurt his mother. That night, Will has a nightmare about how his life would be in....many, many, many years to come...
This is where I again marvel over Will Smith's versatility and capability of moulding himself to any given situation. The dream sequence presents him as an incredibly old man and I have rarely seen such blatant display of talent before. I believe that Will Smith was still in his teenage years when shooting the show and he still manages to very convincingly depict the role of an old man. I do agree that the clothes and makeup helped a lot, but no one can deny the powerful talent that lied behind his convincing performance. This all lead to this episode being among the funniest ones in the show. The way he talked and walked in his older self was extremely, extremely entertaining and funny.
***14) The Winner Takes Off***
Will and Carlton pull a rather cruel trick on Geoffrey when they convince him that he has won a multi-million dollar lottery. Much to their astonishment, Geoffrey is extremely hurt and angry and ends up quitting his job- hence the Banks' household- because of their stunt. The whole family is upset over Geoffrey's departure and Will and Carlton decide to set things straight. Will they be able to get Geoffrey back?
Again, another brotherly bonding episode, but this time, the focus is more upon Geoffrey. I was quite astonished to see the beloved butler under quite a different light in this episode. The actor demonstrate his ability to step out of his usual ironic-sarcastic-satire performance to embrace new emotions and hence a new depiction to his personality. I really loved this episode, and this was once more due to the newness it brought to the show as a whole. In addition, this gives quite an interesting insight into Geoffrey's place in the Banks household, as well as the ongoing friendship between Will and Carlton.
***15) Robbing The Banks***
Will assists his Uncle Phil at court. When Uncle Phil judges an ex-con with a rather severe sentence, Will manages to convince his uncle to hire the man as a temporary assistant and handyman for the house. But some time later, the house is robbed...
Drama, drama, drama. This certainly is the most dramatic of all episodes. I know I will never forget the one particular scene when the Banks return to find their home robbed- their reactions were absolutely priceless. I can't however deny that the episode could have been better. It was quite repetitive and the suspense could definitely have held out more but to me, it was somewhat predictable. This was also one of the more serious episodes with thematic features such as passing judgments and the limitations of being wealthy. I particularly loved the manner in which Carlton was depicted in this episode, even if he didn't have a major role, but he was the one who ultimately provides more laughs in this episode.
***16) Bundle of Joy***
Aunt Vivian's delivery date is approaching at an alarmingly fast pace. As Will starts putting together a video montage to show his future cousin, each family member starts fantasizing about what the baby will mean to them, and how will the new arrival affect their lives...
Now this truly was a slapping-the-knee, double-over-laughing episode! Most of the episode is shot in dream sequence to allow the family to expand their imaginations over the arriving baby and this definitely is an episode that any Fresh Prince fan will adore. Geoffrey's reaction was priceless, but my favorite was Hilary's. The way that the baby ends up changing her life in her fantasy was certainly one of a kind! This is also one of the episodes where the whole family, including Geoffrey gets together, and therefore yet another chance to demonstrate the powerful chemistry between the cast. Also, I really loved this episode because it helps in mentally preparing the viewers for a fourth Banks child, something which could have really changed the whole show if done too drastically.
***17) Best Laid Plans***
Will is desperate. The one thing he wants most is to sleep with his new girlfriend but the latter wants to wait until after marriage. Will tries cold showers and running laps but nothing seems to help. After a long talk with Uncle Phil lets him down, Will decides to take matters in his own hands and starts plotting. How far will he go to get his girlfriend to bed?
This was truly one episode where I really couldn't stand Will. I think that it was a nice touch to depict the main protagonist under an even more negative light than usual. While Will truly annoyed me, I believe that his depiction in this episode genuinely served into turning him into a more relatable and approachable character, especially for a sitcom. However, the one person that I admired the most was Kim Fields who appeared as Monique, Will's girlfriend. I really wish we could have seen more of her later in the show because despite being a new addition, she most certainly blended naturally with the cast. In addition, there was a strong chemistry between Will and Monique and this only enhanced the realism as a whole. Laughs are, as always, provided by the rest of the family who does their best to analyze Will's situation.
***18) The Alma Matter***
The race is on for an Alma Matter. Will dreams of going to college where there are "beautiful hunnies", and Carlton dreams of Princeton. Both of them, however, have to take the Princeton interview with some astonishing results....Carlton's guardian angel also appears to help him shed some light upon certain happenings....
Carlton certainly gets his share of the limelight in this episode. While it is yet another Will and Carlton bonding story, I believe that this is also one of the rare episodes where the focus moves from Will to Carlton. I really liked the fact that they gave Carlton his share of the spotlight, and Alfonso Ribero really demonstrates his talent as a comedian. I personally believe that the actor did an excellent job into depicting another side of Carlton which the audience has never seen before. Also, it really helped into showing that there is more to this character than the constant target of Will's joke.
***19) Just Say Yo***
After a trick gone wrong, Will is devastated when Carlton ends up in hospital after having accidentally taken amphetamines from his locker. Poor Carlton thought that the Will's pills were actually vitamins, and when his parents question him, will he give Will away? How is Will coping with the situation?
This is another sobering episode with a powerful message about drug abuse. I believe that this is one of the rare episodes where the directors didn't even bother to include any laughs or humor at all. I certainly can't remember having laughed even once during the entire episode. What I can say was that this was a chance to depict the cast into a completely serious, humorless situation and they definitely excelled at it. I have truly never seen such an amazingly talented cast before- and I have watched countless sitcoms. This episode was also great to show the relationship between Will and Carlton. All I can say is that you might cry after watching this- and for once, it has nothing to do with tears of laughter.
***20) The Baby Comes Out***
Vivian is finally in labor. The whole household spurs into a frenzy of panic and anticipation...only to find out that it was yet another false alarm. As Aunt Vivian is a week late in delivering, she starts getting all whiny and irritating and the family decides to call her sisters to help her cope. But she ends up getting on their nerves too. How will they cope with her? And will she finally have her baby?
Now this certainly was refreshing after the previous episode. In watching my DVD, I opted to watch the episodes in order and I have to say that this one was really full of laughs and delightful surprise, no doubt an attempt to make up for the strong sobriety of the previous one. I love seeing Aunt Vivian and her sisters together, they are certainly up for laughs- but considering Vivian's current situation, I have to say that you will be quite surprised by how things turn out to be. I also loved the manner in which they depicted the family's reaction towards the baby's false alarm. Was it realistic? Not at all but I can vouch for the fact that this is one of the most entertaining episodes in the entire season.
***21) You Bet Your Life***
Will and Carlton stop by a funky café-casino in Nevada on their way to check out colleges. But a heavyweight boxing champion starts toying around with Carlton's mind...
There are three episodes that I truly did not like in the entire season and this was one of them. Apart for the relationship between Will and Carlton (which by then was starting to get a little tiring as theme), I certainly did not grasp the point of this episode. It seemed like a mere repetition of some previous themes and there was nothing new or fresh about it. Also, after the previous episode, and all the hype and huge-built up over Vivian's pregnancy, I was definitely expecting to see more of Baby Banks, which was not at all the case with this episode. I also could not help feeling that Will and Carlton were not up to their usual standards. It might be due to the repetitive humor, but their acting seemed rather stale and forced in this one. However, if the directors wanted to again emphasize on the relationship between the two boys, they certainly achieved their aim because the chemistry between Will Smith and Alfonso Ribero was a strong as ever.
***22) Ain't No Business Like Show Business***
Will's comedian friend comes to spend some times with the Banks and Will manages to steal his role in a comic show. Meanwhile, Vivian and the baby are at her sister's place and Uncle Phil starts feeling lonely...
Many of my friends found this episode hilarious, but to me, it was entertaining and interesting, but not downright funny. Will's new comedian job meant that he had to recite quite a lot of jokes- which didn't really make me laugh. Thing is, I always appreciated the indirect humor in The Fresh Prince and the sudden burst of direct jokes didn't really go well with me. On the other hand, Uncle Phil was extremely funny! His loneliness- and the kids' reaction to their father's desperate need to spend some time with his family really made up for any lack of laughs in the episode.
***23) The Way We Were***
Phil and Vivian are celebrating their anniversary and plan on reviewing their wedding vows. As gift, the kids decide to put together a scrapbook for them...
This was a nice, romantic episode but I couldn't help feeling a strong sense of nostalgia when watching it. I believe that this was Janet Hubert Whitten's last appearance in the show before being fired, and this really contributed to the general nostalgia of the episode as a whole. I really cried in this episode because it seemed quite tragic for one of the lead actors to so suddenly depart from the show. This was only enhanced by the powerful family bond depicted. But I have to say that the romance, feel-good factor is most definitely present in this episode, and the nostalgia only adds to the dramatic factor of it all.
***24) Six Degrees of Graduation***
Vy (Will's mother) is really excited over Will's graduation. However, she soon learns that Will is failing music. To pass his music class, Will has no choice but to sing with a group of eight year olds at graduation. How will he react to this?
I believe that they certainly could have done better for as a closing episode. However, I particularly loved the graduation theme in this episode, it really served as concluding factor. Will was amazing in this one- or should I say, more amazing than usual. I've always noticed that the actor had a natural ability to act with kids, and this was his chance to prove it. I was disappointed in terms of content for a last episode, but the laughs and jokes certainly made up for it afterwards!
If you are still with me and haven't fallen asleep yet, I really have to recommend this season to any one who loves The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It demonstrates an amazing blend of laughs, drama and tears and genuinely does depict why it stands as one of the most popular television shows- even years after it stopped running. Most definitely my favorite season so far!
~Thanks for reading~
Creators: Andy and Susan Borowitz
Stars: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert Whitten , Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons and Tatyana Ali.
The initial first show aired in September 1990 with this third series airing two years later (1992), although not getting onto DVD until 2006.
This 4 disc set contains 24 episodes, (out of the 148 from the entire series) still with the same old faces and the same old attitudes, only a bit more mature and a lot more comical.
** MAIN CHARACTERS
* Will Smith (himself) is once again the street wise teenage kid from the tough streets of West Philadelphia who lives with his relatives due to his mothers fears of him growing up with the wrong crowd in 'Phili'.
He is still a typical loud mouth young man with attitude, although he has matured in the few years he has been living in Bel Air.
He still like to wind up his frighteningly large Uncle Phil and still has an eye for the ladies...
* Philip Banks (James Avery) is Will's rich uncle, starting as a being a high flying lawyer, then as a Judge, with a very 'large' personality. His no nonsense attitude to teenage delinquents is still being put to the test with Will, although there relationship has grown stronger over time.
He is still mainly seen as a miserable man, who dotes on his wife and kids.
* Vivien (Janet Hubert-Whitten) is the beautiful wife of Philip with her PHD, working as a professor of black history. She is a strong character who has worked hard to get where she is today.
* Hilary (Karyn Parsons) is Philip and Viviens eldest daughter who is a very spoilt young lady, demanding everything and anything from her parents, usually getting her own way with her father, although she is standing on her own two feet as she grows up, although she still has no capabilities of taking care of herself and relies heavily on the mansions butler.
She is seen as a bit of a bimbo and spends her time mainly pampering herself and shopping for the latest fashions, on daddies credit card of course.
* Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) is the slightly pompous, but very funny, son of Vivien and Philip, with his selfish attitude and rather immature behaviour.
Although he tries to be cool in character he is soon showing his true colours with his love for Tom Jones songs and his very jittery dance steps.
His relationship with Will is becoming stronger as they spend more time together.
* Ashley (Tatyana Ali) is the youngest of the family, (until Vivien had another baby in later series) and loves spending time with her mother, that is until Will appears on the scene with his calm outlook on life, slowly changing her way of living, much to her parents horror as she grows up.
* Geoffrey Butler (Joseph Marcell) is still the Banks's household butler. He has a very calm attitude, which helps a lot considering the people he has to work for, and his proper use of the queens English, who seems to bond well with Will. He has a very dry sense of humour and enjoys making witty remarks, especially to Philip.
He has spent years as a butler for people such as Led Zeppelin and Chuck Norris.
* Jazz (Jeffrey A. Townes) is Wills friend, who continues to come across as a very irritating person indeed, especially to Uncle Phil.
He still has an almost unhealthy crush on Hilary and is always trying to get her to go on a date with him, with many disappointments.
He dresses a bit like a pimp and has a personality to match, much to the disgust of Philip, who, in many episodes deals with Jazz in a certain way.
** BRIEF IDEA...
In the beginning Will's mother shipped him off to her sisters large house in Bel Air, aiming to get him a better education and a good start in life, keeping him away from trouble in Philadelphia.
Will has know properly settled into his new life in Bel Air, living with relations who seemed initially to be the total opposite to himself, but as time passed he was soon bonding with them, becoming part of the family as time goes on.
Even though Will is liked by his new family he still causes no end of troubles for everyone, many times involving his rather soft cousin Carlton.
So with Will relishing his new life with his rich relations in there huge mansion he is still creating a lot of hassle for everyone, especially his Uncle Phil, who is still often surprised by some of Will's actions, but has become attached to the teenage joker, seeing him as another son along side Carlton.
But once again, Uncle Phil is the least of Wills trouble as he has to contend with his cousin, Carlton, who, although a little older, is still a child in a mans body, with his bad dancing style and his love of Tom Jones songs, Will certainly has a lot to deal with in his new ready made family.
* SERIES THREE... DVD
1) How I spent my vacation...
Uncle Phil is not impressed with the new look Will when he returns back from spending time in Philadelphia, especially when Ashley begins to take after him.
2) Will gets committed...
The family return to Phil and Vivian's old LA home only to realise they have a lot of clearing up to do.
3) That's no Lady, that's my cousin...
Ashley begins to dress to impress the boys at the newly revamped Bel Air school, but Will land Carlton aren't going to sit back and let her get away with it.
4) Hilary gets a job...
Hilary hit's the high life when she lands a job as a weather broadcaster.
5) Mama's baby, Carlton's maybe...
The banks family is in shock, especially Will, as Carlton's girlfriend appears on the scene with a baby, claiming it is Carlton's, only Carlton has a little secret of his own.
6) P.S. I love you...
Will is besotted with a student at school and Uncle Phil is working towards getting on the judges bench.
7) Here comes the judge...
When Will gets arrested for unpaid parking tickets it is up to Phil to help, only he still battling to get onto the bench.
8) Boyz in the wood...
A camping trip for the men turns into a holiday from hell when snow hit's the adventurers.
9) A night at the Oprah...
When the Banks family are invited to apear on the Oprah Winfrey show Will is excited, but when he learns that he's not been invited he takes revenge in the only wat he knows how.
10) Asses to ashes...
Will hears that Uncle Phil is being belittled by another judge he steps in to sort the problems out.
11) A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...
Will gets close to a pregnant woman whilst accompanying Vivian to her Lamaze class and is soon getting more than he bargained for.
12) The Cold War...
Carlton and Will are enemies due to the affections of a girl. Meanwhile, Phil and Vivian entrust Geoffrey with the results of the ultrasound regarding the sex of their unborn baby, but are soon curious about the answer.
13) Mommy Nearest...
When Will's mother tells will that she wants him to move back to Philadelphia when he graduates, but Will has other plans for his future.
14) Winner takes all...
A practical joke which Carlton and Will play on Geoffrey backfires when the butler quits his job.
15) Robbing the banks...
When some items from the house go missing all fingers point to the new handyman, who happens to be an ex-criminal... but is all what it seems?
16) Bundle of joy...
Geoffrey plays a bit of a trick on the soon to be in labour Vivian, meanwhile, Ashley is feeling a little left out due to the forthcoming events.
17) The best laid plans...
Will's tries his charms on with another unsuspecting female, much to his delight.
18) The Alma Mater...
Carlton is astonished to find he has been accepted by Princeton University, only Carlton has been rejected, leaving him a little depressed.
19) Just say no...
Carlton finds what he thinks are vitamin tablets in Will's locker, only they are something very dangerous indeed, much to Will's horror.
20) The baby comes out...
Vivian is a little frustrated due to being a week late giving birth, but when she goes into labour there is no one there to help apart form Ashley..?
21) You bet your life...
Will and Carlton are having a little trouble at a casino on there way to visiting a college.
22) Ain't no business like show business...
One of Will's friends gives Will a chance to appear on a comedy show.
23) The way we were...
Flashbacks from the passed as children make a photo album for Viv and Phil for the anniversary.
24) Six degrees of graduation...
Will has to do something drastic in order to pass his music class, but his only answer is a little embarrassing.
* NOTE: This series was the last for Janet Hubert Whitten as Vivian, being replaced in the next series by Daphne Maxwell Reid.
** Extras on this disc set
Some best bits of the series and some very comical bloopers from this series
* Special guest have included
Sherman Hemsley, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Jones, Riddick Bowe.
** IN CONCLUSION...
This is another brilliant comedy series which is as good as, or even better, than the first two.
The powers that be in the casting crew have thankfully stuck to the original cast, allowing the audience to watch as the family grow, seeming to bond with them as they do, this is a great idea as introducing new main characters into a popular series like this is always difficult to pull off.
This show, together with the characters, is maturing quite nicely with age.
Smith as the slightly smug yet very comical young man with a zest for life, coming together with Rieiro, as his cousin and now new best friend Carlton, the mini man with a passion for Tom Jones songs and a dodgy dance technique.
In this series Smith and Rieiro's characters seem to be becoming more alike than before, with Will seeming to be calming a little whilst Carlton is gaining the confidence to be more like his bouncier cousin, the two combining to bring so many one liners and buckets full of witty comedy that the show is hilarious from start to finish.
But again, the show wouldn't be as good without the rest of the Banks family, especially Avery who continues to portray the big guy uncle Phil, who does seem to be getting bigger as the show rolls on, (if they say cameras add ten pounds then he's got a lot of cameras pointing at him).
Parsons, as Hilary, is still giving her character the spoilt but likable mannerism that the audience have come accustomed to, although she is maturing quite well, seeming to find her feet in life.
Thankfully, during this series we see and hear a lot more of Geoffrey who Marcell still portrays with so much humour and a 'spiffing' English accent, seeming to be more like Will than the rest of the family.
And once again, the writers have continued to involve the very comical character of Townes as the ever so colourful yet slightly irritating Jazz, still dressing like a colour blind, part-time pimp, with his ability to fly out of the door, with Big Phil's help of course.
In all, continuing the great combination of characters and creating yet another hilarious series...this entire show is definitely one of the best sitcoms ever made... ( IMO anyway)
This third series is available on DVD from amazon for just under a tenner and has is nearly 10 hours of comically witty entertainment split onto 4 discs... well worth the money you'll find.