Sunday, September 11, 2005

Everybody Hates Chris

Jess and I were looking for something light to watch last night before bed. My new copy of Entertainment Weekly came with a preview DVD of the new show on UPN "Everybody Hates Chris," based on, as the ad says, "Chris Rock's a kid." I hadn't been too impressed with the ad campaign on subways and buses throughout the city (the previous quote just seems like weak ad copy to me), but I heard that it did well at the upfronts, and we decided to give it a try.

This would definitely be the first UPN show I've watched where I've had to pause the episode to get through my own laughter...well, intentionally, anyway.

The show comes off, in a nutshell, like a black combination of "Malcom In The Middle" and "The Wonder Years," with ridiculous, slightly-over-the-top-but-still-somehow-realistic parents, antagonistic and meddling siblings, and various other characters, like the school bully.

Set in 1982, the show features an unbelievable soundtrack. Within the first five minutes, we hear clips of "Get Down On It" by Kool & The Gang, "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder, "Good Times" by Chic, and other songs that sound extremely familiar and reminiscent of the time period. (Are they all actually from the 1982 era? I have no idea. Doesn't matter.)

There are a few standout actors, specifically Terry Crews. Crews plays the head of the household, playing Chris's father as strict but slightly ludicrous, which allows us to see him as more than just a typical taskmaster. The highlight of the show is Tyler James Williams, playing Chris. He has a lot of character, much like Frankie Muniz, but doesn't have the chip on his shoulder that Malcolm carries; you can see the "why me?" on his face but he doesn't choose to be bitter about it. And Williams has the Chris Rock "dialect" down perfectly; it's not overused at all - only used enough to remind us of who he is.

While the advertisements clearly play up on the Chris Rock connection, what they fail to mention is that, a la "The Wonder Years," Rock narrates the entire show. This is one of the main keys to the show's success. I love Rock's comedic style, and his delivery is spot-on at just the right moments here.

There's more I could say about the show, such as its take on racial stereotypes and its delicate balance of playing the comedy but still showing us some of the more serious issues behind it, but I think the show stands pretty well on its own. Give it a try and see what you think.

"Everybody Hates Chris" premieres Thursday, September 22nd at 8 PM on UPN.


At 9/12/2005 12:48 PM, Anonymous Jadey! said...

Yeah, I laughed out loud too... unusual for a show to amuse both of us. :)

At 9/12/2005 3:19 PM, Blogger Brian said...

sounds neat but i've not been all that impressed by the UPN lineups of late...

i'll have to give it a bye for the moment and look at it again after we return. precious tivo space!!!!

At 9/13/2005 12:37 AM, Blogger Krischelle said...

I was going to skip it altogether because the obvious reference to Everybody Loves Raymond rubbed me the wrong way, but I think I'll give it a shot. Chris Rock is a funny guy most of the time.


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