Finally, the moment fans of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air have been waiting for has arrived: the release of the (as far as I can tell) complete uncut Sixth Season on DVD. They’ve had to wait nearly 15 years since it was first aired for it to come out on any form of home media, so was it worth the wait?
Yes and no. What you get here is 24 episodes, complete as they first aired. While it’s good that they’ve managed to clear up the clearance of the music, they have also not done anything to clean up the episodes at all visually, so they look quite dated as a result (especially the NBC titles at the end of each episode). There are also no special features in the set at all. You could count the blooper show as one (because you get to see behind the scenes and watch bloopers), I suppose, but that was part of the original run rather than anything extra, before such features were available on DVD.
In some areas, the show feels quite dated, as there are quite a few topical references to people of the time that might not go over as well today and a few guests stars who were more famous and interesting then than now (though rather serendipitously, a joke about the O.J. Simpson trial being recent still works as well as it did then). Although that is to be expected, as it’s pretty hard to level that accusation at a box-set of an old show.
And of course, the show itself is still really quite funny in places, with very funny guest appearances from Regis Philbin and a personal highlight for me as a Trekker, William Shatner. I sense that if we were comparing that particular appearance to reality, I’d react more like Carlton than Will to Shatner’s presence. And of course, who can forget Shaft himself’s (Richard Roundtree) guest performance as a smooth-talking reverend? Of course, if you are the kind of person who doesn’t like celebrity cameos like that, then this probably isn’t for you.
There are a few references to events from earlier seasons and stuff that has carried through, so this is not completely self-contained. However, as someone who hasn’t watched the first five in far too long, I didn’t have much trouble catching up so you probably won’t either.
It must be said that this season did waver in terms of quality (something that becomes more apparent when you watch all the episodes in the three disc set over a short period of time), from the dull and predictable to the genuinely funny moments, but there were a few stand-out episodes (such as the one where Geoffrey’s unknown son makes an appearance and this causes Carlton to speak with the most exaggerated upper-class English accent I have ever seen), and I’d say that those were worth the price of admission.
If you have naught but affectionate memories of the Fresh Prince’s early efforts before he did Hitch and Seven Pounds, then be sure to pick this up so you can own it on DVD. Old fans are advised to get it so they can complete the collection and relive the good times. Newcomers are advised to start at the first season and work their way up, or failing that just read the page on Wikipedia to bring yourself up to speed.