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Everybody Hates Chris

TITLE: EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS - UPN 2005


Info:

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 22, 2005 (Paramount Television)
Network: UPN
Time: Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. E/P
Cast: (in Alphabetical Order)
Tichina Arnold, Terry Crews, Imani Hakim, Vincent Martella, Tequan Richmond, Chris Rock (VOICE ONLY), and Tyler Williams


Introduction:

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (Thursday, 8:00-8:30 PM on UPN) is inspired by the childhood experiences of comedian Chris Rock, who narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of three children in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1980's. Uprooted to a new neighborhood and bused to predominantly white middle school two-hours away by his strict, hard-working parents, Chris struggles to find his place while keeping his siblings in line at home and surmounting the challenges of junior high. This responsible, resilient adolescent brings a distinct, funny spin to his everyday trials and traumas.

This series is part of UPN’s new Thursday night block of sitcoms for the last six years, WWE wrestling has aired on Thursday nights. For whatever reason, UPN decided to move Smackdown, one of their highest rated programs, to Friday night -­ a night UPN has long struggled at. This move left a two hour hole that needed to be filled, and UPN seeing the sitcom void on Thursdays ­shifted parts of it’s past Tuesday night sitcom block to Thursday, and brought in a couple newcomers including Everybody Hates Chris, a show for which UPN has received a remarkable amount of positive buzz.


Cast Details:

The series stars Tichina Arnold ("Big Momma's House") as Rochelle, Terry Crews ("White Chicks") as Julius, Tyler Williams as Chris, Tequan Richmond ("Ray") as Drew, Imani Hakim as Tonya, and Vincent Martella ("Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo") as Greg. Chris Rock (please, don’t tell me I have to explain who *HE* is) serves as narrator, and is thus a part of the cast, without actually being part of the cast.


Plot:

The series, inspired by Chris Rock’s experiences in childhood, starts out with the family moving out of The Projects, and into Brooklyn. One character that stands out immediately is Julius, the father. On the van on the way to Brooklyn, they ask to stop at McDonalds. The dad tells them “there’s some bologna” in the back…eventually they agree to stop, on the condition that the family gets 1 combo meal ­ Drew gets the Burger, Tanya gets the fries, and Chris gets the drink (leading Narrator Chris to comment that “one time I just got the ice!”). They get to Brooklyn ­ in a section of town that looks amazingly like where Tony and Sam moved out of in Who’s the Boss.

The entire first few minutes show you just how bad the family is ­ at least from Chris’ perspective. Chris talks about how he has to go to the Jr. High in the Italian part of town ­ the mother refers to the Jr. High in their part of town as a “hoodlum factory” ­ leading Narrator Chris to chime first that he’s the only black kid in his school, and a bit earlier, says that the school in the Italian part of town was just like the school in his part of town, just take away the gangs, and add the mafia.

The remainder of this episode, including Chris’ sixth day at school, Julius and Rochelle at home, etc. follow this same tone. There’s a fight at school, a battle over “the big piece of chicken”, and what goes on in the house that night. Rochelle’s little rant about how the family “runs like the government, on a deficit” is amazingly complex, and amazingly funny.


Analysis:

This is the 2nd best sitcom pilot I’ve seen in the last five years ­ second only to Crumbs, due at midseason on ABC ­ and it’s a close second. I can’t find a single negative thing to say about this series. The actors, particularly the ones playing Julius and Chris, seemed like they were still adjusting to the roles a little bit, but it’s overall a nice show. The show was easily better than I originally expected. Chris Rock provides narration that, while occurring at fairly frequently intervals, never overruns the action going on in the episode. The clothes and styles of the people look more like 2005 than 1982 a lot of the time ­ not that there’s much of a difference (see: everything old is new again).


Conclusion:

Amazingly well-done pilot and this show could very easily serve to be THE show for UPN. Anyone reading this review that’s near a television next Thursday: WATCH. THIS. SERIES. It’s one of the best sitcoms to debut on television in a long time. I’m not necessarily crazy about the two sitcoms that are carryovers from last season, and I haven’t seen UPN’s other new sitcom yet. This series is easily the best thing airing at 8 PM on Thursday.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Seth Thrasher Seal of Approval

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/14/2005.

Related Links:

UPN.com Official Site
TV.com
epguides.com
Internet Movie Database
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