The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Infobox Television
bgcolour = #87CEFA
show_name = The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


caption= The "Fresh Prince" mid-program bumper
format = Sitcom
runtime = approx. 23 mins (per episode)
creator = Andy Borowitz
starring=Will Smith
James Avery
Janet Hubert-Whitten (1990-1993)
Daphne Maxwell Reid (1993-1996)
Alfonso Ribeiro
Karyn Parsons
Tatyana Ali
Ross Bagley (1994-1996)
Joseph Marcell
country = USA
location = Bel Air, Los Angeles, California
network = NBC
first_aired = September 10, 1990
last_aired = May 20, 1996
num_seasons = 6
num_episodes = 148
list_episodes = List of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes
imdb_id = 0098800
tv_com_id = 475

"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is an award winning American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show starred Will Smith as a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to live with his wealthy relatives in a Bel-Air mansion. His lifestyle often clashes with that of his relatives there. 148 episodes were produced over six seasons. [ [http://www.tv.com/the-fresh-prince-of-bel-air/show/475/episode_guide.html?season=0&tag=season_dropdown;dropdown;6 Episode List for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air] ]

Theme song and opening sequence

The theme song and opening sequence explains the context of the show. Will Smith is revealed as a street-smart teenager, born and raised on the mean streets of West Philadelphia, while the plot of the story is shown and rapped in the theme song.

The theme song was written and performed by The Fresh Prince (Will Smith). Contrary to popular belief, DJ Jazzy Jeff did not compose the music for the opening credits. The music was composed by Quincy Jones III, who is credited at the end of each episode. An additional credit at the end of episodes also reads "Theme song written by Will Smith", in regard to the lyrics, with no reference to DJ Jazzy Jeff. The music often used to bridge scenes together during the show is also based on a similar chord structure as the theme song. This too is the work of Quincy Jones III. The full version of the theme song, telling how he went on a plane to Bel-Air, was only used on the first three episodes of the show, although Will Smith did record it as an unreleased B-side. [ [http://www.jazzyjefffreshprince.com/lyrics/will-smith/b-sides/will-smith-fresh-prince-of-bel-air-theme.htm DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince: B-Side Lyrics] ] The full-length version, which is 2:52", was included on Will Smith's Greatest Hits album and attributed to himself only. A 3:23" version was released in the Netherlands in 1992, and reached #3 on the charts.

For the first few episodes of the show stanzas one to three and stanzas six and seven were used. Beginning with Episode #9 (titled "Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect (2)"), only the first two and the last two stanzas of the song were used. The change to the theme song allowed for longer episodes to be created.

Seasons 1, 5, and 6 featured an instrumental version of the theme and still photographs from the episode for the closing credits. In Season 2, the music and stills were dropped and closing credits would almost always appear over bloopers and outtakes from the episode. This continued until the end of Season 4. The closing theme over episode clips returned for Season 5, due to NBC's change from traditional credits to the split screen credits that are currently employed by the network.

Cast and characters

*William "Will" SmithWilliam "Will" Smith (played by Will Smith) was born on July 3, 1973 in West Philadelphia. He often has disagreements with his cousin Carlton, whom he sees as not quite "black." Despite their differences, Will grows extremely close to the Banks family, even turning down his mother when she offers to let him move back in with her again in Philadelphia. At the conclusion of the story's run, he remains in Los Angeles to finish his last year of university.

*Hilary BanksHilary Violet Banks (played by Karyn Parsons), born August 18, 1972, is Will's attractive, but dull-witted, eldest cousin, known for her notable lack of intelligence, her pretentious attitude, for being "spoiled", and her dependence on Geoffrey. In earlier seasons, Hilary's snobbishness is emphasized, as well as her shallow trendy environmental activism. During this time, she often claimed to hobnob with celebrities and loves being mistaken by people for Whitney Houston. Later on, Hilary is written as a self-centered airhead; she looks down on Will's upbringing and is obsessed with shopping and money. However, despite her apparent shallow personality, she has a strong sense of integrity and shows obvious affection to her family members. It is revealed that Hilary was conceived while Phil and Vivian were waiting for a Sly Stone concert to begin.

*Carlton BanksCarlton Banks (played by Alfonso Ribeiro), born August 4, 1974, is Will's pedantic and preppy cousin. Carlton is a firmly conservative Republican, and proves both friend and foe for Will. Although Carlton and Will often trade insults, Carlton obviously cares about Will by referring to him as "the brother I've always wanted." His role model is talk show host Bryant Gumbel, and his favorite singer is Tom Jones. His favorite actor is William Shatner, whom he annoys by making lame Star Trek jokes. Carlton also idolizes Macaulay Culkin, whom he once dressed up as for Halloween.

*Ashley BanksAshley Banks (played by Tatyana M. Ali), born April 29, 1979, is Will's younger cousin. Ashley was Vivian's baby until her little brother Nicky came along, and always loved being with her mommy. Philip was always trying to control Ashley's life so she didn't become anything like regular teenage girls. Will's devil-may-care approach to life is an exciting alternative, which makes her generally more sympathetic and understanding towards him than other members of the Banks family. It seems that by spending time with Will, Ashley often acts rebelliously as she gets older, for which her father becomes very angry at Will. In the episode "Father Knows Best", Ashley lies and drops out of her private school and goes into a public school. Ashley matures much in the series; she is a one-hit wonder with her brief singing career and strives to become a fashion model.

Recurring settings

*The Banks Mansion - full series:The mansion is where the Banks family, as well as Will, live; the address was revealed in the fourth season's "For Sale By Owner" as 805 Saint Cloud Road. A majority of the show's scenes take place in the mansion. Originally, most of the family scenes took place in the living room, with less prominence given to the kitchen. The living room set had archways at either end to hallways, and two doorways at the back of the set to the side yard. The right-side hallway was occasionally shot in, and had a staircase upstairs, and the front door. The kitchen set was not attached to the rest of the downstairs set, and was unconventionally laid out compared to many sitcoms: The left side had counters that continued along the fourth wall (where the audience would be), and had a lot of depth (from the audience perspective), with camera angles frequently shooting almost parallel to the fourth wall. The set had two interior doors; one of which, at the right side of the set, led to the hallway left of the living room (though was not attached on set), and an exterior door to the unseen back yard. There was a dining room also off the hallway left of the living room. The upper floor hallway was shown in Season 1, until the mansion sets were completely rebuilt after the season.

In the second season, the kitchen and living room sets were rebuilt much larger, and were connected directly by an archway, allowing scenes to be shot continuously between the sets, which is where most scenes were shot. The staircase upstairs was incorporated into the back of the living room, with only one rarely-used exit to the side yard beside it. An actual television prop was added at the fourth wall, whereas there had only been one implicitly in the first season. The archway to the right still led to a hallway with the front door. The only element that remained from the original set was the kitchen's left-hand wall and island which were rotated ninety degrees to become the back wall at the right of the kitchen, with some modification to the cosmetics. The archway was the only way into the room, other than the exit at the left to the backyard patio, which was now an existing part of the main house set.

In addition, Will's and occasionally other family members', rooms were shown (sometimes changing looks between appearances) during the series. The pool house was shown in one episode of season 3. A different set was used when it became a main location in season 4 until the end of the series, after Will and Carlton moved in.

Despite the changes, the exterior shot of the Banks house, which is an actual house in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California, was constant throughout the series, usually featured in still shots. A running gag, however, featured Jazz being thrown out of the front door using the exterior of the house. Every time he is thrown out of the house, he wears the same shirt. So when he wears the shirt, it is known that he will be thrown out of the house.

*Bel-Air Prep - Seasons 1-3:Bel-Air Prep is the high school that Will and Carlton attend in Seasons 1-3.The 3 main sets are the classroom, a hallway and the auditorium (the auditorium was only shown in three episodes: "Def Poet's Society", "Courting Disaster" and "Just Say Yo").

*Hospital - Seasons 2-6:A hospital in Los Angeles is seen in several episodes which deal with the Banks family's medical problems. The exterior shot of the hospital is a shot of the VA Hospital in nearby Westwood

*Jazz's apartment in Compton - Seasons 1,3-5:Jazz lives with a few friends in a run-down apartment complex in Compton, California called the Chalet Towers. This setting was seen in every season except Seasons 2 and 6.

*KFPB Channel 8 News station - Seasons 3,4,6:This setting was seen throughout Season 3 because Hilary was hired as a weather girl and fell in love with Trevor Collins, who died in a bungee accident in Season 4. Due to his death, the setting was written off towards the end of the 4th Season. The setting returned in Season 6 because Hilary's own talk show was produced there.

*ULA Student Store - Seasons 4-5:The ULA Student Store, also known as "The Peacock Stop" for the school mascot, is where Will, Carlton, and Will's friend Jackie Ames work. In Season 4, Jackie is the manager, Carlton is the assistant manager, and Will is the cashier. When Jackie leaves ULA in the middle of Season 4, Carlton takes over as manager and Will becomes assistant manager and cashier until Season 5.

Awards and Nominations

yndication and DVD Releases

The series was originally an NBC production in association with The Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Productions (later QDE, or Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment). After the show was released to syndication, the rights reverted to Warner Bros. Television, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBC Universal does own the series' copyright). Currently, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air airs on TBS, Nick at Nite and The-N as well as My Network TV and was purchased by ABC Family. It is also currently being aired on the UK digital TV channel Virgin 1 and in Canada on YTV, TVtropolis and Crossroads Television.

Warner Home Video has released the first four seasons of the series on DVD. [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FL7C96 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete First Four Seasons] ] It is currently unknown if Seasons 5 and 6 will be released.

References

External links

* [http://www.warnerbros.co.uk/television/freshprince/index2.html Official US site]
* [http://www.warnerbros.fr/television/freshprince/index2.html Official FR site]
* [http://www.freshprincedvd.com WarnerBros. - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air DVD site]
* [http://www.epguides.com/FreshPrinceofBelAir/ Episode guides archive]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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