Before he was a Miami cop or saving the world from aliens while wearing Ray Bans, Will Smith was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. From 1990-1996, The Fresh Prince was a quintessential 90s sitcom filled with laugh-out-loud moments that have and continue to entertain audiences. It was Smith’s first acting gig, a break that came at just the right time in his life. As a rapper, Smith had blown through his earnings and found himself nearly bankrupt. That’s when NBC came calling with a series; the rest is TV history.
There are some hilarious episodes in season five, and Will Smith and company are in top form, as they deliver joke after side-splitting joke that will keep you moving through the season. The season features some great self-referential gags and nods to the audience as Will looks into the camera. Add in the stellar talent of James Avery (Uncle Phil), Daphne Maxwell Reid (Aunt Viv), Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton), Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Tatyana M. Ali (Ashley), and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey) and it all adds up to comic gold.
Season five offers up big changes for Will and the Banks family that are both comedic and poignant. One episode in particular, “Bullets Over Bel-Air,” has a much more serious tone as Will and Carlton are mugged and Will gets shot. The final scene between Will and Carlton in Will’s hospital room is powerful, and showcases Smith’s range as a dramatic actor.
Some of my favorite episodes this season include: “Grumpy Young Men,” “Will’s Misery,” “Fathers Knows Best,” “Will Steps Out,” “Same Game, Next Season,” “Bullets Over Bel-Air,” “Will Is From Mars…” “Save the Last Trance for Me,” “To Thine Own Self Be Blue…and Gold,” and “Cold Feet, Hot Body.”
One thing that’s absent is any special features. I would have loved to have seen a blooper reel, an audio commentary on “Bullets Over Bel-Air,” or a featurette about season five.
For a solid stream of sitcom laughs, I highly recommend The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Fifth Season! Oh, and you’ll probably want to check out seasons one through four, which are also available on DVD.
What’s your favorite 90s sitcom? Leave a comment and let us know!