THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
As Will Smith sailing into box office history with the release of “Independence Day,” he bade farewell to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1996. The sixth and final season reaches DVD, collecting the last 24 episodes of the show. Will and his cousins eventually face going off on their own, but not before Will starts working for Hillary, Carlton struggles to get into Princeton, Ashley faces the question of teen sex and Geoffrey learns about a son he never knew he had.
WHAT I LIKED
I never watched “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in its initial broadcast. I was just a bit too old to really get into it, and I was too busy with a college schedule than to make time to watch it. That’s nothing against the show, but I don’t have the deep-seeded love for the series like I do for something like, say, “Growing Pains” (see above for more on that).
Still, I have warmed up a bit to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” For the most part, the show just tries to have fun. It crams a couple lessons down your throat, which is to be expected from 80s and 90s television. But on the whole, the shows are funny.
This was definitely Will Smith’s show, and in its sixth season, it was even more his show now that he was a bona fide movie star with “Bad Boys” under his belt. But the supporting cast continues to be what makes it work. Without Alfonso Ribiero as his foil, Smith would have had nothing to work with. Consider me a Carlton fan. Hillary, not so much, but damn if Ashley (or rather Tatyana M. Ali) didn’t grow up looking fine.
The best part about this season, though, is the final episode, which has some fantastic call-outs to other classic sit-coms. There’s also a clever Bloopers episode near the end of the run that’s pretty fun to watch.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While I do enjoy watching Will Smith in most of his blockbuster films, in his initial sit-com, a little went a long way. Like Jack Black, Smith’s shtick gets old fast. And holy hell, there’s a lot of yelling on this show. I don’t mean yelling at each other. I mean just yelling… Will screaming… Carlton screaming… though oddly none of the female characters screaming. Go figure.
The problem with a TV and movie star executive producing and leading his own television series is that there’s no one there to tell him to dial it back. And Will Smith overdoes it all too often here.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who grew up with this show in the 90s, and big fans of Will Smith.