Few people probably would want to relive their awkward childhood years, much less on national television. However, stand-up comedian and actor Chris Rock's childhood has been remade (the show is "inspired by" Rock's childhood) as "Everyone Hates Chris", a very funny sitcom that airs on the CW. The series generally has Chris (played here by Tyler James Williams) trying to make his way through the day in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in the early '80's.
He lives with his uptight mother, Rochelle (Tichina Arnold); his stressed father, Julius (Terry Crews); a more popular younger brother, Drew (Tequan Richmond) and younger sister, Tonya (Imani Hakim). At school, Chris hangs out with Greg (Vincent Martella), his only main friend. Chris Rock narrates the series, offering some hysterical commentary (after young Chris gives a speech for class president that goes over well with the kids, current Chris adds, "It was great to hear a crowd say my name and not follow it with, 'Lets get him!'") and giving the series a bit of an edge that's welcome. Rock's comments on the absurdity of some of the situations also manages to mine some additional laughs out of show scenes.
The second season continues to follow the formula - Chris gets himself in over his head in various relatable situations (being stood up in "Everybody Hates Rejection"; the power of being a hall monitor in "Everybody Hates Monitors"; being stuck with the principal - guest Jason Alexander - in "Everybody Hates Snow Day" and getting busted for cutting school and bad language in "Everybody Hates Cutting School" and "Everybody Hates Dirty Jokes") and has to use his wits to figure a way out of the situation.
The performances from the ensemble cast are marvelous, although Williams is particularly good as young Chris. This is a series where the main character is dumped on, picked on, occasionally humilated and has to struggle through a lot. Yet, the series doesn't use the character's low moments for cheap laughs (it is, in other words, not comedy from humiliation) and Williams plays the character with a lot of heart and inner strength. The young actor carries the show nicely, and he's backed up by a great cast, especially Crews and Arnold as his parents.
1 Everybody Hates Rejection
2 Everybody Hates the Class President
3 Everybody Hates Elections
4 Everybody Hates A Liar
5 Everybody Hates Malvo
6 Everybody Hates the Buddy System
7 Everybody Hates Promises
8 Everybody Hates Thanksgiving
9 Everybody Hates Superstition
10 Everybody Hates Kris
11 Everybody Hates Eggs
12 Everybody Hates Hall Monitors
13 Everybody Hates Snow Day
14 Everybody Hates the Substitute
15 Everybody Hates Cutting School
16 Everybody Hates Chain Snatching
17 Everybody Hates DJs
18 Everybody Hates Baseball
19 Everybody Hates Gambling
20 Everybody Hates Dirty Jokes
21 Everybody Hates Math
22 Everybody Hates the Last Day
VIDEO: "Everbody Hates Chris" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentations look just great, as sharpness and detail are consistently first-rate. While some minor shimmer occured on a few occasions, the picture usually appeared crisp and clean. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other flaws.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack mainly uses the surrounds to offer up some of the show's tunes. Otherwise, the audio is front-heavy and dialogue-driven. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and bassy music.
EXTRAS: actors Tichina Arnold and Terry Crews offer commentary on "Everybody Hates Thanksgiving" and "Everbody Hates Chain Snatching".Actors Tyler James Williams, Vincent Martella, Imani Hakim and Tequan Richmond offer commentary on "Everybody Hates Promises" and "Everybody Hates The Class President". "Everybody Hates the Class President" also has commentary from Producers Ali Leroi and Jerry Levine. Additionally, a few episodes have "webisode" featurettes that give some brief insights about the making of that particular episode. There are deleted scenes for quite a few of the episodes, as well.
The final disc offers a set of featurettes: "Everybody Hates the Cast and Crew Again" (the longest featurette, this is a general "making of" that follows the cast and crew as they prepare for the second season and discuss their approach to the sophmore year of the show), "Everybody Hates a Day in the Life of Tyler James Williams" (a look at what an ordinary day is like for the actor), "Everbody Hates Mr. Omar's Women" (a look at the neighbor - played by "What's Happening?"'s Earnest Thomas - and his ladies) and "Everybody Hates Vincent's School Tour" has Vincent offering a look at the set's classroom area.
The other four featurettes found in the section are: "Everybody Hates Stand-ins" (a look at a scene using stand-ins, then the actual scene), "Everybody Hates Caruso-isms" (a detailed look at the background behind some of the character's lines), "Everybody Hates Mrs. Morello's Racism" (a profile of the character) and finally, "Everybody Hates Wardrobe" (a visit with the show's costume designer and a tour of the wardrobe cage.) The final DVD also includes an amusing gag reel that runs for a couple of minutes.
Final Thoughts: "Everybody Hates Chris" doesn't change up the series much, but writing does get laughs even more often and the actors seem more comfortable in their roles. The DVD set offers excellent video quality, fine audio and a really nice selection of bonus features. Recommended.