The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a series that will always be remembered for a variety of reasons. It was a series that played against tired African-American stereotypes – much like The Cosby Show – and gave audiences a positive look at a successful, happy, and affluent African-American family. It was a series that put Will Smith on the fast-track to becoming one of the most successful movie stars of the 20th century, with films like Independence Day, Men in Black, and Bad Boys making him even more of a household name.
And it was a series that was very, very, funny, while still managing to deliver some powerful “very special” episodes throughout its six-year run. Each actor brought their own cadence and personality to their roles, which lifted the series from being just another 90s sitcom into something uniquely special.
There’s no question that Will Smith was the star of the show – he IS the Fresh Prince in the title after all – but the supporting cast only helped to make Smith stronger as an actor and as a comedian. Whether he was paired up with Uncle Phil (James Avery), Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Hilary (Karyn Parsons), Ashley (Tatyana M. Ali), or Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell), Smith’s timing was spot-on; and the chemistry with his cast mates made for a totally entertaining experience.
Season six delivers plenty of laughs, great cameos, and plenty of changes for the Banks and Will as the series comes to its end. And while the show avoids self-referential gags like those found in season five, the final season does have its share of zany gags and moments that while funny do get tiresome.
Not that I’m complaining at all about the quality of the series. My primary issue with this season was the constant go-to joke of Will and/or Carlton screaming more than once in a given episode. It sort of became the running gag throughout the final season, one that does get annoying after a while. Instead of a clever line to go out on Will and/or Carlton scream. It’s funny to a point, but after a while the screaming does wear thin.
The final season does, however, have some great episodes that a definitely worth watching. Each holiday themed episode in season six is very well done and hilarious. I also liked the story arcs that each character was given this season, although I felt that Vivian (Daphne Maxwell Reid) did get a bit slighted in this department.
The episodes I recommend watching from season six include:
There’s the Rub (Parts 1 & 2) – I particularly liked this hour-long Thanksgiving episode. It has the classic “characters go to a shelter and learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving” storyline with Hilary and Carlton; it has some hilarious moments with Will’s mom, grandma, and aunt (who all have excellent comic timing); and Will tries to help Uncle Phil with his back problem only to have taken him to a massage parlor right before a raid. This is definitely my favorite holiday-themed episode this season, and one I could watch more than once.
Not with My Cousin You Don’t – Yes, that is Jaleel White (Urkel from Family Matters) trying to get into Ashley Banks’ pants! This is one of those “very special episodes” where Ashley stands in for all the young girls watching and decides against going all the way. And Will and Carlton add the hysterical screaming in for good measure.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (Parts 1 & 2) – Another great two-parter – there are three of them this season – that has plenty of drama, comedy, and feel-good moments. I loved the runway show that includes Will, Carlton, and Ashley, but the scenes with Vivian’s sister are top-notch and laugh-out-loud funny!
Hare Today… – An Easter episode with plenty of crazy competition, old ladies fighting, and a horny reverend! It all comes together during the Easter sermon, followed by some great gospel music.
I, Whoops, There It Is – A behind-the-scenes look at the show co-hosted by Dick Clark. The bloopers are funny, but there should have been more of them, and it’s the final few minutes with the cast prepping for a taping that are really worthwhile. Oh, and Will Smith wearing make-up is always funny.
Eye, Tooth – It’s Mr. William Shatner! The highlights of this episode are Carlton’s reaction to meeting Shatner and Shatner’s responses, and the sequence at and after the dentist’s office. Comic gold!
I, Done (Part 1 & 2) – It’s all over. I will admit that I did get choked up during the final moments of the finale. Hey, I grew up with these people, it happens. A solid ending to a great series.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will always be considered a sitcom classic. It’s a solid family sitcom with plenty of laughs, heart, and soul. If you have never seen this series before I highly recommend you check it out from the start. If you’re a fan of the show this is definitely worth checking out. So get your Fresh Prince viewing party organized, practice your Carlton Dance, and get ready for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Sixth Season!
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Sixth Season is available April 19, 2011 on DVD!
What’s your favorite moment from the final season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Leave a comment and let us know!