Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Season 1
Warner Bros. // Unrated // $39.99 // February 8, 2005
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 23, 2005
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Before "Independence Day", "Hitch" and "Men in Black", Will Smith became a television sensation as "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". The rapper-turned-actor stared as Will, a teenager from the projects of West Philadelphia who gets into a little scuffle, which results in his mother sending him off to live with the Banks family - his wealthy cousins who live in Bel-Air. Of course, this results in some initial culture shock as both the uptight Banks' and Will take a while to get used to one another. While his aunt Vivian and cousin Ashley warm up to their new visitor quickly, Will's stuffy cousins Carlton and Hilary, as well as uncle Phil, aren't as quick to make friends.

The show's balance in the family between the accepting and the irritable made the series work as well as it did. The verbal sparring between Will and Carlton (Alfonso Riberto) is at its finest during several of these first season episode. The plots also seem a bit more clever early on. Similar to my recent experience viewing the first season of "Night Court", I hadn't seen these early episodes of "Fresh Prince" in a while, and although I remembered the series fondly, they were even a little better than I'd thought. The series could have seemed a little too "90's" and dated, but it stood up well. Some of the later seasons run down a bit, but these early episodes are often hilarious. The dialogue is consistently amusing and Smith's comic timing is stellar, even early on.

Season 1

1. The Fresh Prince Project
2. Bang the Drum, Ashley
3. Clubba Hubba
4. Not With My Pig, You Don't
5. Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy
6. Mistaken Identity
7. Def Poet's Society
8. Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect (1)
9. Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect (2)
10. Kiss My Butler
11. Courting Disaster
12. Talking Turkey
13. Knowledge is Power
14. Day Damn One
15. Deck the Halls
16. The Lucky Charm
17. The Ethnic Tip
18. The Young and the Restless
19. It Had To Be You
20. Nice Lady
21. Love at First Fight
22. Banks Shot
23. 72 Hours
24. Just Infatuation
25. Working It Out


The DVD

VIDEO: "Fresh Prince" looked, well...Fresh, with a captial F. The picture quality was not dazzling, but it certainly equaled (and slightly improved upon) the broadcast quality of the original run and the episodes I've seen recently in syndication. Sharpness and detail were consistently very good, as the picture maintained a very satisfactory level of definition.

Some minor shimmering and a few very slight instances of pixelation were spotted, but the picture was otherwise free and clear of any of the usual concerns. The elements used were in terrific condition, as the picture looked bright and vivid, with no wear. Colors were vibrant and well-saturated, with no smearing.

SOUND: "Fresh Prince" is presented in 2.0 audio here, and the results are fine. The show's music sounds dynamic and crisp, while dialogue remained crisp and clear. The show's laugh track didn't seem overly aggressive, fortunately.

EXTRAS: The show's creators and *some* (you know what that means) of the cast are interviewed for a retrospective documentary. There' a bit much in the way of happy talk regarding just about everyone, but the doc does offer a good deal regarding the creation of the show, the sets, casting and the early days of the production. It's really not an extra, but the early episodes of this season do include the longer opening credits rap.

Final Thoughts: I've always enjoyed "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", but I haven't seen these early episodes in a while, and they were better than I remembered. Warner Brothers has produced a nice DVD set - while supplements are a bit limited, audio/video quality is very good. Recommended.



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