Chris Rock has been one of those comedians that either hits a home run or strikes completely out. I’ve seen quite a bit of his stand-up and found I loved it or hated it. He’s not afraid to play the race card. Hell, Chris plays the whole dang deck at times, and Everybody Hates Chris is no different. The comedy is based, loosely I’m sure, on the young adolescent life of Chris Rock. It’s a black comedy that will bring back memories of those 1970’s shows we all watched as kids. Like Good Times and even Sanford And Son, the show is loaded with stereotypes. All of the white characters are bumbling fools who are often played as racists themselves. Chris’s school teacher, Mrs. Morello (Mazarella), is the most obvious example. She’s constantly trying to talk “hood” with the boys and making politically incorrect observations loaded with outrageous clichés. Of course, it’s all in fun, and if you’re willing to overlook the often sensitive language and plots, you’re in for some laughs along the way. I like that the show never really takes itself seriously and challenges the viewer to simply lighten up. Basically, this ain’t no Cosby Show.
Chris Rock narrates each episode from his current place in life. The interjections are often humorous commentary on the pains of growing up, particularly black. At times Chris is just annoying, and he tries too often to be over the top. Tyler James Williams plays the young Chris. He kind of looks like him enough, and I can see some of Rock’s mannerisms in the boy. Terry Crews is the standout actor, playing Chris Rock’s father, Julius. The big guy always seems to mean well but doesn’t always have his stuff together. He could have been a young Fred Sanford. Tichina Arnold is Mom and the domineering force in the life of our young comedian to be. She’s best known for her excellent turn as Pamela in Martin, another stand-up sit-com vehicle. Chris’s siblings are played by Tequan Richmond and Imani Hakim. Hakim is absolutely hilarious and seems so much older than her age as an actor. She manages the little sister act, while all the while you know there is so much going on there. She’s a constant burst of energy and often exhausting to watch. A very promising young actress. Finally, Vincent Martella plays Greg, the token white dude. He’s Chris’s best bud and is honestly the most stereotypical white kid I’ve seen on television. Together it’s a good ensemble, and the show can be quite clever at its best, simply funny at its worst.
The fourth season would turn out to be the final one for the young Chris Rock chronicles. While it turned out that not everybody hated Chris, it wasn’t ever a ratings heavyweight either.
Everybody Hates Chris is appropriately presented in its original full frame 1.33:1 format. While this is a fairly recent series, it was merely a sit-com. Not to degrade the genre, but the studios don’t put a tremendous amount of production value in that kind of a series. Still, colors are solid. Black levels are average. This is pretty much as good as this kind of programming gets. Better overall than the broadcast versions.
Dialog is pretty much all you should care about in this Dolby Digital 2.0 track, and it delivers just fine. The show’s trademark sound effects are there just as you remembered with no problems at all.
There are a handful of cast and crew Audio Commentary tracks on select episodes.
Deleted Scenes: Many of the episodes feature a short scene or two.
Webisodes: Each episode features a 2-3 minute director feature that obviously aired on the net before each episode aired on television.
The rest of the features are found on Disc 4:
Gag Reel: (5:19) What’s funny about this gag reel is a reference to season 5. Ooops. Mostly flubbed lines.
Candid With The Cast: (27:40) The cast gather around to answer questions that appear to have come from fans.
Death In The Dining Room: (6:00) Apparently the toughest shooting days were the dining room scenes. A good look at the many shots necessary to pull this kind of a set-up off.
Give ‘Em Props: (6:15) A tour of the prop truck from license plates to fake magazine covers.
Just For Laughs: (7:27) That stupid French accent crap they’ve done on the show. It doesn’t work at all. Just tedious.
The “Key” To VFX: (4:33) A look at the greenscreen work on the show.
In some ways I think Chris Rock must have been at least a little relieved that the series finally came to an end. It’s not that it wasn’t funny. It featured the comedy of Chris Rock; of course it was funny. But it did seem to cramp the comic’s style just a little bit, and it’s likely he has never looked back. At least we can look back. In fact we can look back on the show anytime we want to by completing the collection here and now.