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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Everybody Hates Chris - The First Season
Everybody Hates Chris - The First Season
Paramount // Unrated // October 10, 2006
List Price: $50.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted November 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

Family situational comedy has evolved significantly since the early days of television. From "Leave it to Beaver" to "Everybody Loves Raymond" the genre has changed to fit the times but one thing has never changed; it's popularity. Established comedians have had their hand in the production of these shows for quite some time so when Chris Rock began work on Everybody Hates Chris it was easy to tell from the beginning that the sitcom was going to be a success.

Narrated by Rock, Everybody Hates Chris is basically all about his life growing up in a part of Brooklyn known as Bedford-Stuyvesant. The year was 1982 and Chris' family just moved to the neighborhood from the projects. Accompanying the main character in their new home are his brother Drew, sister Tonya, and parents Julius and Rochelle. There is a cast of secondary characters as well but for the most part the screen time is eaten up but the Rock family.

While Everybody Hates Chris may feel fresh amidst today's roster of TV shows it has many elements that are standard to the genre or borrowed from other series. For starters the narration by Chris Rock gives the show a certain Wonder Years feeling with commentary about what's happening on screen and insight into various characters. It's this narration that often delivers the punch-lines though the material for the characters proves to be just as rich.

Many of the personalities in the show also fit a stereotype within the family sitcom genre. Brother Drew is suave and popular with the ladies despite the fact that he's younger than Chris. Tonya is the troublemaking sibling who often finds herself in a bind but finds a way to shift the blame onto Chris. Julius is a hardworking blue collard individual who pinches every penny and often kowtows to his wife. Rochelle is the overbearing mother who lectures her children, and doesn't take guff from anyone.

Some of the second tier characters that help flesh out the show include Greg. He's a friend of Chris who is a real pansy and runs away whenever trouble rears its ugly head. Caruso is the school bully who picks on Chris mainly because he's the only black kid attending Corleone School. And of course what sitcom would be complete without the object of Chris' desire? Early on in the show their next door neighbor Keisha gets in between the Rock brothers and it's a recurring theme throughout many episodes. Her mother also has a way to make Julius flustered because she's very attractive and Julius also happens to be one of only four fathers on the block. Beyond those characters there are many that come back whenever is convenient such as Risky the vendor of less-than-fine wares.

Various themes, gags, and personality quirks recur throughout the show with frequency as well. Julius' cheap nature is omnipresent as is Rochelle's smack talk about how she's going to beat her children. Rochelle also has a penchant for quitting jobs on a whim because "her man works two jobs and she doesn't need it!" Drew always gets himself out of trouble by saying "It wasn't me". Whenever Chris talk to a girl his buddy Greg spouts out "You're so in there." Probably my favorite recurring theme is the neighborhood thief who appears randomly asking to hold something for someone, meaning you better give it to him or else.

With this structure being the backbone of virtually every episode the world created by Chris Rock becomes endearing and funny yet familiar at the same time. When you start watching the show, it may sound odd to say, you'll feel right at home thanks to the homage that gets paid to sitcoms of the past. The good part is that these inspirations don't take away any of the originality from Everybody Hates Chris and it certainly doesn't kill the quality.

In this first season set nearly every episode is comedy gold. Sure there are a few stinkers but for the most part every episode is a success. It's easy to see why this became UPN's best and most popular show ever and it deserves all of the critical praise that it receives. Chris Rock's brand of humor may not be everybody's cup of tea but with all of the right notes being hit here even naysayers will be hard pressed not to crack a smile.

With so many wonderful episodes it's really hard to pin it down to which one was my favorite. "Everybody Hates Basketball" was hilarious featuring a less-than-athletic Chris being picked for the school's basketball team because he is the only black kid in school. The episode gets even better when Caruso show's him respect and he starts getting the attention of white girls. Naturally it all comes crashing down around him when it's time to play his first game. He should have just followed Drew's advice to pass out and hit his head on the court.

Another favorite of mine was "Everybody Hates the Babysitter". In this episode Rochelle hounds Julius to take her out to a nice dinner and once he begrudgingly accepts they hire a babysitter instead of letting Chris do the watching. All kinds of craziness happens as the sitter constantly abandons the Rock children, picks up her own baby, has it taken by the father and has her mother stop by to check things out. Meanwhile Julius and Rochelle are having a terrible experience at the restaurant to say the least and in the end the cost is more than Julius can stomach.

"Everybody Hates a Part-Time Job" was another fantastic episode in this first season. Chris wants to get a leather jacket but his parents aren't exactly going to go out and buy it for him so he has to get a job. As he goes to work delivering papers more sinister things happen back at home. Drew convinces Tonya to drink a mixture of hot sauce which lands her a one way trip to the hospital.

I could go on and on about practically every episode on this set, though to be fair there were a couple that just weren't as funny as others. "Everybody Hates the Laundromat" and "Everybody Hates Keisha" were probably some of the low points from this season. Don't misinterpret that though. A low point in Everybody Hates Chris is still funny; it's just doesn't reach the bar raised by the other episodes here. This is a family sitcom at its finest and in many ways this is one of the funniest shows that I have seen in years. I applaud Chris Rock's ingenuity and can't wait to see more of what's in store for little Chris.

Episode List

Everybody Hates the Pilot
Everybody Hates Keisha
Everybody Hates Basketball
Everybody Hates Sausage
Everybody Hates Fat Mike
Everybody Hates Halloween
Everybody Hates the Babysitter
Everybody Hates the Laundromat
Everybody Hates Foot Stamps
Everybody Hates Greg
Everybody Hates Christmas
Everybody Hates A Part-Time Job
Everybody Hates Picture Day
Everybody Hates Valentine's Day
Everybody Hates the Lottery
Everybody Hates the Gout
Everybody Hates Funerals
Everybody Hates Corleone
Everybody Hates Drew
Everybody Hates Playboy
Everybody Hates Jail
Everybody Hates Father's Day

The DVD:

Video:

Everybody Hates Chris is presented beautifully on DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and virtually flawless print. The image quality is crisp, clear and vibrant in every frame and it's safe to say that this show brings the look of the 80s back in style. Virtually every scene in this show is a treat though sometimes the picture can be a little soft. Other than that minor gripe things here are smooth sailing from start to finish.

Audio:

Two distinctly different audio tracks are available for Everybody Hates Chris. A 2.0 stereo track is present and features quality like you'd expect with light diversity among the front channels with decent quality abound but a lack of technical brilliance. That's where the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix comes into play. Despite the fact that this is a dialogue driven sitcom there is a pretty good amount of channel separation and though the rear speakers are more subdued the music and sound effects add a nice amount of depth. There are no subtitles included on this release.

Extras:

The first season of Everybody Hates Chris is presented in a set with four DVDs. Each of them has a decent spread of bonus material and for the most part they are episode specific.

Disc 1:

For the pilot episode Chris Rock, Ali LeRoi, and Reginald Hudlin get together for an audio commentary. There are a few moments where it's amusing but for the most part it's information and retrospective about their experience. It's definitely interesting to hear about how they came up with some of the different ideas and character quirks for the show. This episode also got a deleted scene regarding Rochelle's part-time job and the famous "my man works two jobs" line.

"Everybody Hates Keisha" gets another audio commentary but this one features the main cast. This particular one isn't as informational as the pilot commentary but it's just as good with more topics about experience and a lot of funny bits. The episode also features two deleted scenes depicting some Jehovah's Witnesses and the different fathers on the street. "Everybody Hates Sausage" has a couple of brief deleted scenes, as does "Everybody Hates Fat Mike", and three for "Everybody Hates Halloween".

Disc 2:

More of the cast gets back together for another audio commentary for "Everybody Hates the Babysitter" though Vincent Martella sits this one out. He's back in the fold for the commentary track available for "Everybody Hates Food Stamps" though. No deleted scenes are included for the episodes here.

Disc 3:

On the third disc "Everybody Hates the Lottery" gets a deleted scene along with one for "Everybody Hates the Gout". That's all you're going to find on this disc.

Disc 4:

On the final disc there are no episode specific bonus features. Instead there is a selection from the menu that takes you to a decent supply of extras. Under the featurettes category there is a extensive selection including "Everybody Hates the Making of Everybody Hates Chris". This 24 minute feature takes a look at the show from the point where it was merely a talked about concept to where it is today. As the pieces fall into place it's interesting to see how things came together and what people's perceptions of the show is. There are plenty of interview-like segments and behind the scenes shots as well.

Other features (7 in total) here range in running time and subject matter. There is a look at the theme song and the musical styling of the show as well a cute segment starring the kids of the show. The most entertaining one here is easily the Blooper Reel which clocks in at about four minutes. Lastly some audition footage is included for each of the actors that were chosen for their roles.

Final Thoughts:

Everybody Hates Chris is one of those shows that grabs you from the moment you start watching and doesn't let go. It's enchanting, endearing and downright hilarious in just about every frame. In the family unit this show could be universally accepted since there's something here for everyone. All 22 episodes in the first season are very good though it's easy to say that some are better than others.

As far as DVD quality is concerned that's another area where this release makes an impression. Great video quality, good audio, and a satisfying collection of bonus material help to round out the package. This set is highly recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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