Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
's third season simultaneously provided some of the best and worst episodes of the show's six-year run. Set up as a classic collision of streets and society, the show soon found Will (Will Smith) beginning to adapt a little too well to his upper-crust home. He transfers to the same prep academy as Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), peruses Ivy League colleges, and truly starts to believe everything comes to him easily. Two spoiled characters (Carlton and Hilary, played by Karyn Parsons) are tolerable, but three begins to get grating. Five is even worse, if you count parents Philip and Vivian Banks (James Avery and Janet Hubert-Whitten), who jumped on the whining bandwagon just enough for their tired butler, Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell) to abruptly quit for one episode.
While strong family core values remained the show's focus (Avery and Hubert-Whitten are good role models for parents who dont try to be their children's buddy), Will became less of a good-natured jokester and more of a flagrant womanizer, going as far as to trick an abstinent girl (Kim Fields) into thinking they had married to get her into bed. Other less entertaining storylines included Philip's run for Superior Court judge against his sleazy mentor (Sherman Helmsley), and Will's possession of drugs, which Carlton accidentally consumes and nearly dies from (leading to the first of Smith's clumsy attempts at teary confrontations; in later seasons he would prove more successful at them). The show also wrote in Hubert-Whitten's pregnancy resulting in a new baby for the Banks, and gave Hilary a "real" job as a weather girl. Season three's highlights include the Banks family's appearance on Oprah, and more instances of Carlton's famous dance to Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" -- with guest appearance by Jones as his guardian angel. And that, we can never get enough of.--Ellen A. Kim