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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air – The Complete Fifth Season (1994 – 1995/Warner DVD Set)

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air – The Complete Fifth Season (1994 – 1995/Warner DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C+



In the 1980s, African Americans in TV situation comedies remained a driving force in all of TV and though many would like to suddenly forger it and many ignored it at the time, The Jeffersons and Differn’t Strokes were top hits at their respective networks and without them, The Cosby Show would have never happened.  However, the much better and possibly more important successor also aimed in a family safe way at its audience was The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.


By The Complete Fifth Season, Rap/Pop sensation Will Smith (long before becoming the #1 box office star in the world) was a commercial acting success here as a young man from a tougher neighborhood who moves into a relatives suburban home finding a new and better life by adding his old experiences and growing up with new ones.  Unlike The Cosby Show where the Huxtables were already successes and the other prior shows were it was either African Americans struggling with their situation (Good Times, What’s Happening) or going from rags to riches (again The Jeffersons, Differn’t Strokes), Fresh Prince was actually the show that bridged the gap between the two types of shows for good.  After it, African Americans in TV would have a full-range foothold forever in the medium.


The three DVDs here have all 25 half-hour shows that extrapolate from the real life story that inspired the show, but I hadn’t really noticed how quietly oversimple key points in the various teleplay plots are, but that was the secret to the show’s long-term success.  James Avery, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Alfonso Rubeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali and Joseph Marcell also star.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on NTSC analog videotape and these transfers are not the best they could be, but are better than most of the times I have caught the show on TV and aliasing errors are limited.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo can show its age and has some distortion and compression one would expect from sitcoms of its time, but this is not bad just the same.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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