I did a double take at the beginning of this episode because it begins with a flash forward to the Christmas of 1998 and I was like wait what year is it???? Anyway, little Nicky is asking Phil to tell him a bedtime story about his four middle names…and now we go back to Christmas Eve 1993.
Carlton is so into the holiday spirit that he had jingle bells sewn into his pants cuffs. It’s extra but it’s cute.
Evidently, the whole family has bought really lovely, expensive gifts for Nicky’s christening. But Will has purchased a hand puppet.
Realizing his gift is crap, Will becomes inspired when he discovers that Nicky really likes listening to Ashley’s Boyz II Men CD. So he tells everyone that he got Nicky a private concert with Boyz II Men. (He claims that he knows them from Philly…which of course…he does not.)
And then we get to see Boyz II Men ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
As you can see in the video clip, Will sneaks into their recording session. But as it sort of turns out…he does kind of know them…he stole Nate Morris’s girlfriend back in Philly. So yeah. Boyz II Men isn’t going to do Will any favors.
When Will’s mom arrives for the christening, Will tries to ask for her help. But she’s so excited about Boyz II Men that he can’t bring himself to tell her the truth.
So Will tries again. He dresses up in Carlton’s Santa suit and heads back down to the recording studio. He announces that he received a Christmas wish from a boy who wants them to sing at a christening. And somehow. It works! Until he accidentally catches his beard on the audio board, and reveals that he’s the guy who took Nate’s girl.
As Will begins to confess his lie to the whole entire family at the christening, Boyz II Men shows up!
And that is how Nicky got four middle names! He’s named after every member of Boyz II Men!
Very Special Holiday Lesson: Honestly the saddest thing is that Boyz II Men had to work in California on Christmas Eve and they couldn’t be with their families. Work-life balance is so important! Luckily, Will did promise them a really nice reception after the christening. And at least they got to spend Christmas with the Banks family. And I love them sooo much! Every time they sing I get a tear in my eye! Merry Christmas Eve, Very Special Readers!
After my dissertation on Murder, She Wrote yesterday, I am truly aiming for a shorter post today. Thankfully, “Fresh Prince. The Movie” is a twenty-three minute episode and not, in fact, a movie.
Over a game of poker, Will tells his friend Jazz that he recently spent time in Alabama as part of the witness protection program because he a mob hit while working in a Philly restaurant. There’s a whole lot in that sentence, so I’ll pause while you take that in.
Will narrowly escaped death himself, but luckily a postal worker arrived and interrupted the hitman. Postal workers — heroes in 2020 — heroes in this one 1994 episode of Fresh Prince. Bizarro episodes are truly timeless.
After Will identifies the hitman in a lineup, the hitman is somehow left alone to fix his hair in the two-way mirror. Will decides to taunt him only to have the hitman punch through the glass and attack him. A guard shows up and saves Will in the knick of time. But the hitman escapes, leaving Will in danger.
The feds send Will to Deliverance, Alabama where he lives in a trailer park and goes by the name “Floyd Palmer.” Will doesn’t love the idea of living in a small unincorporated area. He wants to know where the closest club is. The federal agent tells him, “The closest town is Hatred, Mississippi. I can check if there’s dancing.” Things don’t sound too promising.
That night a shadowy figure hovers over Will as he sleeps. (Meanwhile in the present day, Jazz is so enthralled with the story that he folds on a full house while Carlton wins with a seven high.) Will reveals that the shadowy figure is Uncle Phil! He and the family must assume new identities in Deliverance because they were also being targeted by the hitman — who is still trying to track down Will.
They’re all mad at Will for agreeing to testify against a murderer and ruining their Bel-Air lives. But eventually Uncle Phil comes around and tells Will that he did the right thing. The mood is better for a moment until Uncle Phil remembers he has to start working at the manure plant the next morning.
Will then describes how the hitman searched their vacant house in Bel-Air and found a letter from Hillary to Neiman Marcus asking that they forward her catalog to Deliverance. It’s unclear why this letter is still at the house and not in the mail, but oh well just roll with it.
With murder literally in his eyes, the hitman heads to Alabama. (In the present day, Jazz needs to go home. But Will and Carlton convince him to stay and keep playing poker because the next part of the story involved an encounter with a bear!) As it turns out the bear is a pet that belongs to another trailer park resident. The bear’s owner, Bertha, takes a liking to Will.
She then accuses him of getting her pregnant and her entire family shows up with shotguns, ready to kill Will This episode suddenly has some really bad To Kill a Mockingbird vibes. As it turns out it’s just a shotgun wedding and not an actual attempt to murder him.
Will persuades Bertha’s father, Hatfield McCoy, to wait until Will’s mother can get to Alabama for the wedding because he wouldn’t feel right getting married without her there. Hatfield is very understanding of this and supports postponing the wedding. Bertha then shows Will a photo she has of him that she will cherish until they can truly be together.
But wait, how did Bertha get a picture of Will?? Turns out it’s a copy of his high school graduation photo. The hitman has posted it around town in the hopes of locating Will. This is where Hatfield and his love of family really comes in handy. The shotgun gang agrees to protect Will and the Banks family.
When he shows up at the trailer park, Will confronts the hitman and says he isn’t afraid because he has “FAMILY.” That’s suppose to be the trigger word for his shotgun gang to jump out and help him. But they’re all passed out from moonshine.
At this point in the poker game Jazz runs out of cash, so Will and Carlton come clean and admit that they made up the whole story to distract Jazz — who is usually a much, much better poker player than they are. Later that night, Will wakes up at 3 am to someone banging on his door. It’s the hitman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just kidding, it’s Jazz with a mask that looks identical to the hitman Will made up in his mind. But honestly, that’s way way way scarier if you ask me.
Very Special Bizzaro Lesson: Lying to your friends makes them retroactively clairvoyant, which is scary as shit. I would just need to be sedated forever if I was awakened at 3 am by a physical manifestation of a spooky fantasy.
Will and his extended family are hitting the slopes for the holidays, which Will says is “for white guys named Sven and OJ Simpson” (because this was back when people thought OJ Simpson was delightful and hadn’t yet realized he is a colossal turd person). They’re all driving separately to the airport (omg please say this is going to turn into a Home Alone episode) and Uncle Carl hands out the tickets in advance.
Hilary is horrified to learn that the tickets are coach. I don’t know if any of you flew coach in 1991 (and granted my legs were a lot shorter back then) but I remember the seats being a LOT roomier. I shudder to think what Hilary would say if she got a coach class ticket these days. She’d probably opt to stay in Bel-Air and skip out on the ski trip all together.
The whole extended family goes skiing. Even Will’s mom join them. When they all meet up at the rental house (where sadly, Carl is left without a bedroom because of some kind of rental mixup) Will is horrified to learn that his mother has a boyfriend. She won’t share much info about the new relationship.
Later on, a man knocks on the door of their chalet and asks to use the phone. Carlton invites him in, but Will shuts the door in his face. Everyone tells Will he is being callous, but I get it. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE! Will says, “unless he is on a mule with a pregnant virgin he ain’t getting in here.” Aw, Christmas jokes, guys!
Will gets out voted and they let the guy in. He doesn’t immediately kill them and because this is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and not Dateline he probably won’t. OH MY GOSH HE HOLDS THEM UP. DUDE PULLS OUT A GUN.
To all the haters who judge a healthy dose of paranoia, let this be a lesson to you.
The thief take literally everything, including some toilet paper and a used pregnancy test. Uh. Okay. They better be sending the Special Victims Unit when the cops respond to this because what the actual f***(this is a family blog…well not really…).
With no gifts and no possessions, the family gives each other the present of their presences. They go around the table and say what they plan to do for their families and how these commitments will be their Christmas gifts. They plan to spend more time together, listen to each other more, and be more like the best qualities that they recognize in each other. Ugh, I’m tearing up. The holidays, dammit.
Then they all sing “Oh Holy Night.” It’s pretty. (Carlton wanted to sing a solo. They act like he cannot sing but Alfonso Ribeiro has a lovely voice. But they all sound great together too.)
Very Special Holiday Lesson: The best gifts are immaterial.
This is a two-part Halloween episode. That’s serious business. But Amazon lied to me and told me Part II was really part I. So what follows is Part II plus what I’ve filled in from Part I:
Carlton and Will have some kind of a bet over who can be the first to find a date for Hillary’s Halloween party. This all boils down to them fighting over the same girl. That feels pretty unrealistic, but we’ll go with it. This mostly consists of them insulting each other in front of this poor girl who should not be considering either one of them at this point. Carlton even uses the R word as an insult (my, how far we have come since the 90’s).
Meanwhile, Hillary has been falsely arrested for shoplifting while she and the rest of the family attempt to find Halloween costumes. It seems pretty ridiculous that fashionista Hillary would wait until the day of a party to find an outfit, but whatever.
Will and Carlton have reached a stalemate in trying to win this girl’s affections, so they start flat-out lying to her. Will describes a “typical” night with him, which involves hanging out with Bo Jackson and Heavy D. Plus, Malcolm Jamal-Warner calls him from the set of The Cosby Show and asks for dating advice. Oh and then Quincy Jones shows up and begs him to sing on a track. But the Fresh Prince is too busy, so he calls his buddy Al B. Shure to fill in for him. Just as Al B. Shure and Quincy Jones are leaving, they talk about how they have to be sure not to miss A Different World–which is so convenient because Kadeem Hardison just happens to be hanging out at Will’s house!
Carlton can’t follow Will’s story at all, so he’s just like “come to the party with me.” And the girl is like well, I’m just more attracted to Carlton. So there you have it. Carlton won out over Will for like the one time ever in history. They all head to the party, and Hillary (who has been released from mall-jail) has invited the mall cop to party with them. Everything seems great for Carlton and crappy for Will (he invited a waitress from the mall to be his date, but she hasn’t shown up). But Carlton can’t really win anything, so it turns out that his date is actually the shoplifter that the mall cop was searching for. She’s also a kleptomaniac who was about to rob them out of house and home.
And then Will’s date shows up as this gorgeous, perfect, real-life but also dressed-up as Cinderella. She lives in Encino with her step-mother and step-sisters. They have a great time and Carlton is miserable. Balance is restored to the Fresh Prince’s world. But the story isn’t over yet. A group of trick-or-treaters show up after they’ve run out of candy. They’re so late because they’ve been watching Matlock. So Will just invites a random group of children into his home and tells them a “scary story” about the “Bel-Air Beast,” which is clearly a description of Carlton. Then all of the children run from the house when Carlton walks into the room. Poor guy, he must have developed some serious self-esteem issues when Will moved-in.
Halloween Lesson: Don’t pick up randos at the mall, be careful not to be mistaken for a shoplifter–and if you’re going to a 90’s Halloween Party, always remember the best costume is grapes.
Carlton and Hilary volunteer at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, but they are only doing it to serve their own needs. Carlton wants the volunteer service for his college application and Hilary wants to film the experience for her talk show. Carlton picks a fight with a young homeless Brad from Home Improvement. Brad puts him in his place for being so stuck up, but then he says he was only kidding. I think Carlton is really humbled either way.
Hillary gets annoyed at manual labor and starts clearing plates before people are done eating, then she is totally shocked and horrified when they run out of food. When she finds out that the supervisor who has been bossing her around is not some holier-than-thou volunteer, but rather a homeless woman, she realizes she has been a big jerk.
Meanwhile, Will takes Uncle Phil to a massage parlor after he throws out his back. They get arrested after they’re surprised to learn it’s, erm, not the kind of massage parlor they expected. In jail, Uncle Phil settles in to eat a prison Thanksgiving dinner and is only moved to tell of the detective when Will starts to wax on about the delicious meal that they are missing. He only lightly played the judge card when they were arrested, but missing out on the “little tiny onions” in cream sauce moves him to provide a litany of procedural errors that could cost the detective his job unless he gets the D.A. on the phone immediately. Pretty soon there after, Will and Uncle Phil get to go home.
Carlton and Hillary realize that they really do want to help the homeless, so they return to the shelter with a catered candlelight dinner. When the camera crew finally shows up, Hillary sends them away because she doesn’t want to exploit the homeless anymore. I guess she didn’t think of turning it into a public interest piece that might actually help the homeless. Oh well.
Very Special Lesson: Catering a candlelight supper for one night is far better than feeding the homeless for many nights.
Very Thanksgiving Activity: I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a couple of food pantries in the past. I can say firsthand that food pantries are often the first way to help underserved populations connect with the resources they need to improve their circumstances. Food pantries cannot operate without grants and donations from area food banks, many of which come from individual donations. If you really want to help this Thanksgiving or ever, I suggest finding your local food bank and making a donation: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/
This episode starts off on Halloween morning with everyone chatting about how mopey Hilary has been ever since her fiancee died, and when will she just let it go? I know, right. Hilary is so unreasonable being bummed about the fact that she’s lost the person she’s supposed to spend the rest of her life with. It has been two whole months since Trevor died in a bungee jumping accident, so it is clearly time to move on. It is so like her to be melodramatic and whiney! Thankfully, hope is on the horizon because Hilary has a date! Everyone is so excited for her, until they find out that her date is with dead Trevor. It turns out that Hilary has paid for a seance so that she can talk to her dead lover, and she needs the family to go with her to help her conjure his spirit. Also, Carlton dresses up as his idol, Macaulay Culkin.
At the seance, lead by a medium played by Glenn Shadix of Heathers and Beetlejuice, Hilary decides that the most important thing to ask Trevor where she left her black suede purse. While the medium/Trevor attempts to answer her, Will decides the entire thing is ridiculous and breaks the spiritual chain. The medium tells them that they will have to comeback tomorrow if they want to speak to Trevor again, and Will calls him a fake.
Naturally, the medium curses him and the entire family. No one takes this curse seriously (duh, the guy is a fake) until Uncle Phil gets a phone call and learns that he has been suspended from the bench due to taking bribes. Now, Uncle Phil is an upstanding dude who would never take bribes, but they have proof. The curse strikes again when Carlton’s hair turns into a rainbow color (which could be a by-product of his Macaulay Culkin hair color) and Ashley is attacked by a malfunctioning Tennis ball machine. Oh and also Jeffrey the butler (whose last name is Butler) gets arrested for being an illegal immigrant. When Hilary is about to marry DJ Jazzy Jeff, Will realizes he needs to go back to the medium and set things right.
However, the medium’s house does not seem to be the same as it was before. In fact, the medium does not seem to be a medium either. He is just an average man who has never seen Will and assumes he is trying to rob him (you can take the Fresh Prince out of West Philly…) Then Will cries and shouts at him to “break the hex” only to wake up from a nightmare. Oh my gosh you guys, don’t worry. It is just a dream! Except that Will wakes up and he is reliving the same exact day/dream/what?? This is some kind of transcendental-metaphysical-Groundhog Day shit and Will cannot do anything to change the conversation! But I do appreciate that he names all of the members of New Edition in the exact order that Ralph Tresvant does during the rap portion of “Cool It Now.” Better luck next time Will.
Halloween Lesson: Do not anger the spirits. Whatever you do, do not anger the spirits.
It’s prom season in Bel-Air and Will is juggling a lot of activities. He’s working a job, playing basketball, studying, and trying to make time for his girlfriend, Cindy. His cousin Carlton, meanwhile, is upset because he has to deal with a pimple. Poor Will is basically falling asleep standing up, so a teammate offers Will some Speed (which he calls “freeze dried coffee”) to help him have enough energy to get everything done. I think we all know how bad actual dehydrated coffee can be, Jessie’s Song aired 3 years prior, so if caffeine can be that intense then Speed must be really bad.
Just because Will is from a broken home in west Philly, doesn’t mean that Will is going to make poor decisions. He does not take the pills and instead falls asleep at the prom. Carlton, however, does take the Speed—by accident. He is still very distraught about his pimple and mistakenly thinks that the pills are some sort of extra-strength Vitamin E that will immediately clear up his face-situation. This leads to a lot of frantic dancing.
Eventually, Carlton passes out and Will takes him to the hospital. Carlton awakes to learn that he has had his stomach pumped. The nurse tells him he is going to be fine, but he must to stay overnight in the “chemical dependency unit,” which is standard procedure for all substance abusers. Will and Carlton try to talk their way out of this, but the nurse (who used to be a drug addict) won’t hear it. Will’s aunt and uncle praise Will’s good thinking, but he feels guilty because he had the pills in his locker to begin with. It’s still pretty clearly Carlton’s fault for taking unmarked pills, but Will’s conscience gets the better of him and he confesses to his uncle that he had the pills in his locker.
As per usual, Uncle Phil yells at Will and is all like, “My son could have died because of you.” When really it’s like, no your son could have died because he is an idiot and took random pills. Why would Will have unmarked Vitamin E tablets in his locker anyway? He’s the Fresh Prince, he doesn’t get pimples!
Anyway, Uncle Phil makes Will cry and apologize to the entire family, while Carlton nods along like “yeah, you could have killed me.”
Very Special Lesson: If someone breaks into your locker and poisons themselves with something they found the you in no one encouraged them to ingest, then it’s all your fault if they almost die.