Studio: CBS/Paramount Network Television
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 7 Hours 37 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: Optional English
The Show - out of
Chris Rock serves as the narrator and inspiration for this funny family comedy series, Everybody Hates Chris. Based in large part on his family and experiences growing up, the intelligent tone of Rock’s humor comes through loud and clear in stories filled with wit and tempered absurdity, along with a great supporting cast of characters played by familiar faces and great talents from older shows in TV history.
The year is 1985, the place is Bed-Stuy, New York and Chris is bused from his Brooklyn neighborhood to Corleone Junior High, where he is the only black kid. Dealing with all the trappings of being 14 and in 8th grade, Chris has his best friend, Greg, on his side. But school life is hard for a number of reasons; the school bully, Caruso, always has it out for Chris, his Teacher, Mrs. Morello is a well meaning but gigantic racist and someway somehow, Chris always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At home, Chris is the eldest of three children. His younger brother, Drew, is bigger, taller and more popular with the girls and his little sister, Tanya, is sweet but far from innocent. His mother, Rochelle, is a livewire, with a voice that could be heard in New Jersey while his generally mild mannered father, who works two jobs, is tighter with his money than Willie Nelson on a federal tax return. This is an eclectic and loving family with quirks, flaws and hilarious traits that everyone can relate to in someway.
Everybody Hates Chris was a quality hit when it launched on UPN in 2005. This year it airs on the UPN/WB combined network, the CW, and has found a confident stride and a way to keep the same relatable stories but tell them with an occasional bigger scale. This year, the show covers Chris running for class president, dealing with a chain snatching thug, the beautiful girl next door and skipping school to see Ghostbusters. With mountains of 80’s references and a diverse soundtrack from back in the day, the show manages to remain fresh with jokes that play on the references from 1985 but also, through Chris Rock’s razor sharp narration, yank laughs from current events.
The cast of the show is a real strength and is among the best ensemble on television today. Terry Crews as the overly frugal father is perhaps the shows most winning and charming performance. Everything from fatherly angst to desperate cheapness is worn in his expressions expertly. Tichina Arnold as the mother is so good in her role as the strict disciplinarian and caring mother, that sometimes I feel like I am the one getting into trouble and I get just a little nervous. As Greg, Chris’ white friend from the Italian neighborhood, Vincent Martella is wonderful. He is always nerdy but it is never overdone. The dynamic between him and Chris seems genuinely warm and friendly. Finally, Tyler James Williams as Chris is one of the most likable and versatile child actors there has ever been. Each week he is placed in hilarious situations of derision and awkwardness that his character could easily have become a weak caricature. But with his talents and those of the writing staff, he strikes a balance between timid and tough, weak and wise, and of being admired and admonished and pulls off a well rounded and enjoyable portrayal of a young boy based on Chris Rock.
The show has lured the talents of so many fine comedic talents who have provided TV with some very funny and entertaining African American characters through the years, even when most other shows failed to represent African Americans at all. In addition to this seasons high profile casting of Whoopi Goldberg as a new neighbor and grandmother to Chris’ crush, the show also features Antonio Fargas of Starsky & Hutch fame, Todd Bridges from Different Strokes, Ernest Thomas of What’s Happening and plenty of other great faces. The valuable lesson in these characters is that it never lowers itself to be simply stunt casting. This group of smaller characters has been fleshed out nicely this season, showing up here and there to move the story along or provide a great moment of comedy.
Everybody Hates Chris is full of near endless energy and is certainly the best family comedy on television at the moment.
1: Everybody Hates Rejection
2: Everybody Hates The Class President
3: Everybody Hates Elections
4: Everybody Hates A Liar
5: Everybody Hates Malvo
6: Everybody Hates The Buddy System
7: Everybody Hates Promises
8: Everybody Hates Thanksgiving
9: Everybody Hates Superstition
10: Everybody Hates Kris
11: Everybody Hates Eggs
12: Everybody Hates Hall Monitors
13: Everybody Hates Snow Day
14: Everybody Hates The Substitute
15: Everybody Hates Cutting School
16: Everybody Hates Chain Snatching
17: Everybody Hates DJs
18: Everybody Hates Baseball
19: Everybody Hates Gambling
20: Everybody Hates Dirty Jokes
21: Everybody Hates Math
22: Everybody Hates The Last Day
Everybody Hates Chris is presented in widescreen format, 1.78:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. I am used to watching this show in a non-HD format, the shoddy 4:3 of network television, so to see it on DVD, widescreen, full of color and as clean as it looks, I am very impressed. It certainly isn’t the sharpest image of a television series available on DVD, but it is a great looking transfer nonetheless. I have no real complaints about the image quality other than it being a little soft. I am not sure if that is intentional, resembling some of the soft images that I seem to remember from the 1980’s, but it is consistent.
Everybody Hates Chris comes with both and English 5.1 surround sound option and English 2.0 surround. The 5.1 surround option is very nice indeed. The main title sequence is immediately noticeable for its depth and bass. Chris Rock’s narration pipes through the center channel free of any distortion or distractions and overall, there is good use of the surround from time to time. Everything has a good, natural feel to it. Not bad at all.
Everybody Hates the Cast & Crew Again : – (20:23) – This features some interesting conversations with the cast and crew, discussing how the show has settled in its sophomore season but expanded in scale and brought in many running themes.
Everybody Hates a Day in the Life of Tyler James Williams : – (4:30) – A camera crew followed the main star of the show, Tyler James Williams, for an entire day – Tyler takes us through some of his routines and talks a little about his family. A somewhat brief little feature for having followed Tyler around for an entire day.
Everybody Hates Mr. Omar’s Women : – (3:54) – A quick peak at the Mr. Omar character played by Ernest Thomas, the funeral director/womanizer on the show.
Everybody Hates Vincent’s School Tour : – (2:47) – Vincent Martelli takes us on a quick tour of the room that he and Tyler James Williams have their schooling.
Everybody Hates Stand Ins : – (2:06) – An interesting couple of minutes that shows the rehearsal process, using stand-ins to fine tune the lighting and camera movements for a scene. The final scene as used in the episode is also shown as a comparison.
Everybody Hates Caruso-isms : – (3:20) – Cute little featurette that shows many clips of the school’s bully, Caruso, insulting Chris – we are then provided the reference behind the insult proving that Caruso, as racist as he is, is somehow well versed in African American culture.
Everybody Hates Mrs. Morello’s Racism : – (2:26) – Quick interview with Jacqueline Mazarella who plays the well meaning but very racist Mrs. Morello on the show.
Everybody Hates Wardrobe : – (6:21) – Wardrobe Designer, Darryle Johnson walks us through the wardrobe cage, talking about the outfits for the characters.
Gag Reel : – (2:37)
Unlisted Extras : – This box set for season two also comes with a number of deleted scenes and some ‘webisodes’ that are accessible from the menu for the episodes themselves rather than the special features section of disc four.
Everybody Hates Chris achieves what the majority of shows billed as comedies fail to do, and that is be funny. This is a quick fire show and many of the jokes thrown at the wall manage to stick, it never disappoints. The realistic portrayal of a black family on television in a comedy, one that doesn’t rely on base humor or fall into the trap of unhealthy stereotypes, is something that should not go unnoticed. The balance of home and school life keeps the storylines fresh and funny. The script is often clever and allows enough family lessons to be baked into each episode to keep it conscious of family life but never absorbed by it.