Series: Bel-Air (Ep. 1-3)
Starring: Jabari Banks, Adrian Holmes, Jimmy Akingbola, Cassandra Freeman, Olly Sholotan, Coco Jones, Akita Akbar, Jordan Jones, Simone Joy Jones
Director: Morgan Cooper
Review: Klep Napier
Rating: 3X’s out of 5X’s
Now this is a story all about how Peacock, with the help of Will Smith took the light hearted popular sitcom, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and put a more serious and darker spin on it. Rising from the popularity of social media came a fan made trailer (by one Morgan Cooper) with an unlikely twist on the famous Philly born character, Will Smith. Dealing with much more dangerous circumstances, his mother made him move in with his estranged relatives across the country in order to assure his own safety.
Bel-Air is exactly what we already know but with a lot more meat on the bone. Here’s what works. Bel-Air takes what’s already familiar to you and uses it to build up suspense. We all at some point have pondered the details on exactly what went down that night in Philly which got Will into one little fight that made his mom scared enough to ship him to his Auntie and Uncle in Bel-Air. This series gives you a lot of that, leaving you holding on just to see the things you already know are coming, finally take shape. Not only does it build a detailed foundation, consequences for Will’s actions are explored throughout in more ways than one stating that you cannot just up and run away from the problems you cause. The realness in the show makes one believe that everything we found to be humorous for all those years might not really have been as funny as the original wanted to make it all seem. Bitter rivalries have been turnt up, character traits have be given a more transparent and unsettling perspective to glance at, foul language is never off limits and yes, the origin story of Will and his best friend Jazz comes to light.
Now, besides all of the things we showed up to see, there are few minor and pleasant surprises, such as the relationship between Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola) and Phillip (Adrian Holmes) which we’ve never gotten to see quite like this. Back story about Phillip that molds the man we know today and darker more realistic Carlton we never saw coming. This where we felt some things were off in this Prince Of Bel-Air story.
Now where so much of the 10 episode series shines it is not without its flaws, specifically around it’s casting and some character plot-line if we may. Carlton (Olly Sholoton) is rough around the edges appearance wise. He is not who you would have expected our Carlton to be, but by god is his performance annoying in the most perfect way. By episode three you may not agree with the casting but his character jags the edges of this story, making him a worthy antagonist in Wills journey. You may love to hate him or just outright hate him the way we did. Another plot point which craps all over the legacy of this series is the Lisa Character. Yup that’s right we’re talking about Lisa (Simone Joy Jones) only three episodes in of the first season which for a lot of Fresh Prince fans, know she doesn’t even come into the picture until later to finale seasons of the original series. We won’t go into too much detail about her, just know that where she fits in wasn’t one our favorite plot points of the series.
Now, with all of that being said, we believe that the overall tone of Bel-Air will shine through as a fan favorite. With minor backlash about casting and character plot points Peacock may have finally found a flagship series to help pull in a flock of new subscribers. Compare it to “All American”, with a lot more edge but whatever you do don’t compare it to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
Hold on to what you know and be prepared to learn something new about your favorite characters.
Bel-Air Premieres it's first 3 episodes on Peacock February 13th (Super Bowl Sunday), then well premiere new episodes every Thursdays week to week.