'Everybody Hates Chris: The Final Season'
(Tyler James Williams, Vincent Martella, Terry Crews, Tequan Richmond, Tichina Arnold, Imani Hakim, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / Paramount)
Overview: Inspired by his childhood experiences, comedian Chris Rock narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of three children in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1980s. Uprooted to a new neighborhood and bused into a predominantly white middle school two hours away by his strict, hard-working parents, Chris struggles to find his place while keeping his siblings in line at home and surmounting the challenges of junior high.
DVD Verdict: This loosely autobiographical family sitcom has a distinctive voice (belonging to co-creator Chris Rock, who also serves as narrator) and a strong sense of time (1982-83) and place (Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood). For Chris (the winning Tyler James Williams), at the beginning of this series, turning 13 is anything but a wonder year. He is the only black kid in an all-white junior high school (to which he is bused) that offers him "not a Harvard-type education, just not a sticking-up-a-liquor-store-type education."
At school, he is befriended by the geeky Greg (Vincent Martella), and mercilessly tormented by the red-haired bully Joey Caruso (Travis T. Flory). At home, his father, Julius, (former NFL player Terry Crews) works two jobs to make ends meet, and knows the cost of everything ("That's 49 cents of spilt milk on my table"). His mother, Rochelle (Tichina Arnold), also works part-time and knows "100 recipes for whooping ass."
Chris is often called upon to be "the emergency adult" to his younger brother, Drew (Tequan Richmond), who is taller than Chris and better at everything from karate to girls, and his younger sister, Tonya (Imani Hakim), who is Daddy's favorite and delights in getting Chris into trouble.
Williams is perfect as the boy that must deal with home life as the eldest that is held responsible for his younger siblings while dealing with a school where he is an oddity: the only Black person in the school. The latter allows Rock to mix comedy with social commentary, something that he does quite well.
The rest of the cast is fantastic. Terry Crews plays the stern and hardworking father, Julius; Tichina Arnold (formerly of Martin Lawrence's series) shines as the mother; Tequan Richmond is Chris's younger but larger and more-appealing-to-the-girls brother Drew; Imani Hakin is Keisha, the sister that makes life miserable for her older sibling; and Vincent Martella plays Chris's only friend at school, Greg.
And so we begin Season 4 (the final season, as it also turned out) with Chris going to High School and put in a class with a racist teacher. Tonya starts working with Rochelle at the local beauty parlor. There’s some surprise guest appearance who join the cast or make a cameo such names Tisha Campbell Martin as Peaches, Robin Givens as Stacy, Nina Mansker as “Big Bird”, and Vanessa Williams as Tallulah Lafitte. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:
Intro and Commentary by Executive Producer Ali LeRoi
Candid with the Cast
Death In The Dining Room
Give ‘Em Props
"Juste Pour Rire” = Just For Laughs
The “Key” to VFX