Click here to see past years’ episodes of A Very Special Holiday Season.
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.
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.