In the late 80’s and early 90’s, rap music and hip-hop culture were making the transition from under-the-radar phenomena to important parts of mass culture. One of the most popular rap acts to cross over during this time was D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. A key part of their appeal lay in their music videos, where charismatic front man Will Smith was able to put his charisma and comedic skills to use. So it was no surprise when Smith was a given a prime time sitcom to showcase his talents.
Executive produced by music legend Quincy Jones, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air placed Smith in a time-tested fish-out-of-water scenario. He played Will, a teen from Philadelphia who was sent off by his parents to live with relatives in posh Bel-Air, California when his old neighborhood got a little too intense.
Will’s new home was a mansion where he lived with his lawyer Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian Banks. The wealthy Bankses had three children: aspiring preppy Carlton, the rather selfish and pampered Hilary, and Ashley, the youngest daughter. The family even had a butler, Geoffrey.
Will quickly made friends with the unpretentious Ashley, but otherwise frequently felt at odds with his new surroundings and family. They had attitudes, beliefs, and behavior patterns that seemed completely alien to him, so he coped with it the only way he knew how: humor. His favorite targets were Carlton’s shortness and Phil’s large appetite, and he would frequently trade verbal barbs with the two men. Surprisingly, he found an ally in Geoffrey, who had a tart sense of humor and could be every bit as sarcastic as Will in his own refined way.
Plot lines usually revolved around Will’s struggles to blend into his new surroundings, or his streetwise influence rubbing off on those around him. Each episode found plenty of room for comic repartee between Will and the others. However, the show could also be convincingly dramatic on occasion. In one memorable episode, Will’s long-departed father (played by guest star Ben Vereen) suddenly popped back up in his life, only to disappear just as quickly.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was an immediate hit and quickly became the most popular African-American-themed sitcom since The Cosby Show. It also became a hip place for African-American celebrities to make an appearance: Richard Roundtree, Naomi Campbell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Don Cheadle, Nia Long and many other talented actors and celebrities. The show also solidified its links to hip-hop culture with cameos from musicians like Tevin Campbell, Queen Latifah and Dr. Dre.
The show ended its network run in May of 1996 after six seasons and 146 episodes. It almost immediately went into re-runs and is still very popular today. It will always be fondly remembered by comedy and music fans alike for its blend of slick comedy and hip-hop style.
“Now… this is a story all about how
my life got flipped, turned upside down,
and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there,
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air…”
UK / NBC – Stuffed Dog – Quincy Jones Prod / 143×25 minute episodes 3×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 10 September 1990 – 20 May 1996
Creators: Andy Borowitz, Susan Borowitz / Executive Producers: Quincy Jones, Kevin Wendle, Susan Borowitz, Winifred Hervey Stallworth, Gary H. Miller
Will Smith as Himself
James Avery as Philip Banks
Janet Hubert-Whitten as Vivian Banks
Daphne Maxwell Reid as Vivian Banks; later
Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks
Alfonso Ribeiro as Ashley Banks
Tatyana M. Ali as Ashley Banks
Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey
Ross Bagley as Nicholas “Nicky” Banks
Clochemerle (BBC-2 1972, Cyril Cusack, Roy Dotrice)
Period sitcom, based on a novel by Gabriel Chevallier that was adapted by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, that saw the French villagers of Clochemerle kick up a fuss over plans to install a new toilet.
CYRIL CUSACK as Major Piechut
ROY DOTRICE as Ponosse
KENNETH GRIFFITH as Ernest Tafardel
WENDY HILLER as Justine Putet
HUGH GRIFFITH as Alexandre Bourdillat
BERNARD BRESSLAW as Nicholas the Beadle
MADELINE SMITH as Hortase Girodet
GEORGINA MOON as Rose Biraque
PETER USTINOV as Narrator
Writers: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
Novel: Gabriel Chevallier
Producer: Michael Mills
Network and Production Companies: BBC Two – Bavaria
Duration: 9×30 minute episodes
Aired From: 18 February – 14 April 1972 Fridays at 10.05pm
Clairvoyant, The (BBC-2 1986, Roy Kinnear, Sandra Dickinson)
In Roy Clarke penned sitcom The Clairvoyant used car salesman Arnold Bristow is knocked down in a car accident and suddenly finds himself with psychic powers – or so he believes. There was a pilot broadcast 27 Nov 1984.
ROY KINNEAR as Arnold Bristow
SANDRA DICKINSON as Lily
HUGH LLOYD as Burma
SHAUN CURRY as Newton
GLYNIS BROOKS as Dawn
CARMEL CRYAN as Carmen
Writer: Roy Clarke
Producer and Director: Alan J.W. Bell
Network and Production Companies: BBC-2
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: Pilot – 27 November 1984 and Series – 15 May – 19 June 1986
Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)
Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017
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