On the last installment of Sports On TV, we tackled ‘The Wire’, a romanticized look at inner-city life and law in Baltimore, Maryland. If we drive an hour, then get into a fight on a basketball court and fly across the country, we’ll be ready for ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’, the 1990s sitcom that launched rapper Will Smith into mega movie stardom and gave ‘Silver Spoons’ star Alfonso Ribeiro an awesome paycheck for like seven years.
‘The Fresh Prince’ is one of my sentimental favorites (as longtime readers of The Dugout may know), so I was excited to tackle its 20 Greatest Sports Moments. I got something like 15 just from season 1 guest stars. Biggest possible thanks goes to Josh Koebert for helping me out with the images. Follow him on Twitter, he deserves your love for making this happen.
You’re probably already singing the theme song in your head, so let’s make this happen. The 20 greatest sports moment of ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’.
Episode: The opening credits of every episode.
What Happens: Teenager Will Smith was born in raised in west Philadelphia, where he spent many days on the playground outside of his school, playing basketball. Will bricks a ridiculous hook shot and the ball bounces into a group of street toughs, interrupting their boom box discussion (at least that’s what it looked like) and causing them to shove and airplane spin him so severely that his mother flies him across the country and forces him to live there for the rest of his life.
Key line: “I got in one little fight and my Mom got scared!”
I wanted to write this paragraph about Will’s opening theme on-court performance, because he’s shown several times during the show to be a TERRIFIC basketball player (maybe he practiced a lot when he got to Bel-Air so he wouldn’t get attacked by people?), but I need to draw attention to Jazz, who is easily the best part of the entire theme song.
Watch him. After the Carl Winslow part.
Jazz is posting up with all his might, all the way in his guy’s lap before Will even shows up. The guy who is supposed to be guarding Will just hops up and down in place, which is hilarious. Anyway, when Will gets close, Jazz fouls his guy in the face and dashes off, leaving Will by himself with two guys guarding him. Instead of passing the ball (and this is totally in character), Will pulls some fancy moves and does his terrible, fateful hook. Jazz does not reappear to help out when Will’s getting gang-assaulted.
So what happened? Was Jazz playing basketball, or was he just trying to rub his asshole on that guy?
Episode: “Someday Your Prince Will Be In Full Effect” (season 1 episode 9)
What Happens: Will and Carlton want to impress the same girl, so they lie to her as much as possible. Will’s story of an average night in the life of Will Smith involves doing the Jazz handshake with Quincy Jones, giving Malcolm-Jamal Warner love advice and helping Bo Jackson plan a catered event by introducing him to Heavy D. Oh, and Al B. Sure randomly shows up to shill ‘A Different World’. The girl picks Carlton (based on “raw physical attraction”), and Will ends up going to a Halloween party dressed as
Elton John Superfly and hits on Kevin Bacon.
Key line: “I’m throwing this formal dinner party … and Bo don’t know what to serve!”
We’ve lost two great television things from the 90s: those prime time specials where networks stars would introduce you to the new Saturday morning cartoons, and upcoming episode promos like this one:
This was part two of an hour-long special like seven episodes into the run of the show, so I guess the producers tossed the script in the garbage and made the cast read their rolodex. Bo is probably still getting residuals for this (and got so much mileage out of the Bo Knows thing he should’ve gotten a Nobel Prize) and should be proud that his big sitcom break was being taught about food by Heavy D, God rest his overweight soul.
Come to think of it, I’m pretty shocked they didn’t roll out Uncle Phil for the “fat guy knows about dinner” joke.
Episode: “Deck The Halls” (season 1 episode 15)
What Happens: In an attempt to make him feel comfortable during his first Christmas away from home, Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian put Will and Ashley in charge of decorations. They trash the pretentious SoCal art deco stuff the Banks Family usually uses to decorate (keeping in mind that this is the season 1 Banks house, which had a palm fern every three feet) in favor of gaudy, low-class lights and decorations you can see from the freeway. A defensive Will fields an angry neighbor’s phone call and challenges them to a fight. It turns out that neighbor is, uh, boxing legend Evander Holyfield.
Key line: “We shouldn’t be fighting. It’s so barbaric.”
This episode features three of the best things you can get in a ‘Fresh Prince’ episode: borderline-retarded season 1 Will dressed in Sonic The Hedgehog’s vomit, Will dancing (to Christmas carols) and Will challenging someone to a fight and immediately regretting it. Dude was always running afoul of people who could beat the shit out of him. Oh, and a fourth thing: not only celebrities, but celebrity IMPERSONATORS. “Ronald Reagan” shows up out of nowhere to compliment the decorations and turn the tide in favor of keeping them up. Like, a clearly 30-year old guy in a suit doing a Ronald Reagan voice.
Anyway, Evander’s appearance is funny (he says the key line, because get it) but it’s overshadowed slightly by his awesome 1990 BET letterman jacket. If Riddick Bowe hadn’t shown up two seasons later in a sleeveless denim shirt, stonewashed jeans and a cowboy hat, Holyfield would’ve been the best dressed boxing champ in the history of the show.
Episode: “Will’s Misery” (season 5 episode 6)
What Happens: Hilary stops by the new country club next door and buys a handmade Milani golf sweaters for her father and that boring, light-skinned lady pretending to be her mom. The sweaters are made of blue Muppet fur and have big golf balls on the front, so Phil does everything he can to get rid of it without hurting Hilary’s feelings (including squirting mustard all over it). Eventually basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shows up at their house to retrieve his golf ball wearing the same sweater, so Phil and Faux-Vivian suddenly like it.
Also, there’s an A-story about Lisa kidnapping Will as part of a sorority pledge, but nobody cares about Will and Lisa’s shitty stories.
Key line: “Hey Mr. Kareem, they’re waiting for you on the tee.”
There aren’t a lot of Hilary moments on the list because sports weren’t really Hilary’s bag, but I spent a huge chunk of the 90s crushing on her so I’m going to write about her whenever I can. She was always getting insulted for being wrong when she wasn’t … Will thought she was lying about knowing celebrities and boom, Ronald Reagan and Evander Holyfield walk in. Phil thought she’d picked out an ugly sweater and boom, here comes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wearing the same one. Hilary knew what she was doing. And man, Kareem was running into all of these sitcom people in the 90s, wasn’t he?
The best part of this episode is the epic ending where Will convinces Carlton that he’s committed murder with a rock, so Carlton screams and runs through the entire set, including the studio audience. If you’ve seen a GIF of him sliding around on his knees, this is where it comes from. A solid #3 best all-time Fresh Prince ending behind Will’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and why he ain’t want me man.
(Guest contributor Josh Kurp of Warming Glow)
Episode: “Courting Disaster” (season 1, episode 11)
What Happens: I’m going to let TV.com user “cube2k8” explain this because he does a better job than I ever could:
in this ep of the fresh prince carlton gets jelous of will because he is good at basketball and philp is going to all the games and cheering will on and carlton gets mad and complaines and will becomes a star on the team and the coach just says to pass the ball to will and his dad has a talk with will about it and will decides maybe what he is doing is wrong so at the last shot he pas to carlton who misses the shot but they become closer in the end this was a good ep.
Good ep, indeed.
Key Line: “How do you do it, friend?” “Hey, easy, Isaiah.”
Shockingly, in this episode of plot-driven TV called “Courting Disaster,” there is DRAMA. All that stuff about how Carlton “gets mad and complaines” happens, but the key sports scene of the episode involves Will falling asleep during a team meeting and daydreaming about Isaiah Thomas. We’ve all been there.
In Will’s fantasy, excuse me, Air Fresh’s fantasy, he harasses Thomas more than Thomas later would Anucha Browne Sanders; he blocks the 12-time All-Star, drives on the 12-time All Star, and most tellingly, walks to the locker room alongside the 12-time All Star with a “yeah, I’d f*ck me, too” look in his eyes. All while rocking a sweet pair of Air Jordan V (5) Grape sneakers. Thomas only gets a single line, but that’s more than enough. Otherwise, a letter-writing scene on ‘Home Improvement’ happens.
Also: there’s a basketball montage set to “U Can’t Touch This” in which Carlton launches a shot like a football from half court, only to miss the rim by, oh, 12 feet. What a great show.
Episode: “Love Hurts” (season 5, episode 9)
What Happens: Will gets humiliated when Lisa uses self-defense to beat somebody up, despite his long, long history of getting the shit beaten out of him by everyone he’s ever fought. Somehow baseball star Ken Griffey Jr. hears about this, and when they interact at a carnival Will makes a corny joke about the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike and Griffey emasculates him like a motherf**ker.
Key line: “Hey Ken, what’s up man? Looks like that strike took a toll on your throwing arm, huh?” “Well at least I don’t have my woman fighting my battles for me.”
The two other highlights of Griffey’s appearance are:
1. Hilary trying to hook up with him (“I’m chilly. Take me to Hawaii?”) and getting shot down because he’s married, like that ever stopped a baseball player carnival hookup.
2. Carlton not knowing who Griffey is and offering him a chance to throw a baseball at some milk bottles, then being justified in his ignorance when Griffey can’t get a ball within a foot of them. I guess he was supposed to miss them to set up that knockout line at the end, but damn, in 1994 Griffey should’ve been able to shatter those things from center.
Will really should’ve learned to stay away from anyone remotely famous he recognized in Bel-Air.
Episode: “You’ve Got To Be A Football Hero” (season 4, episode 12)
What Happens: In one of the most melodramatic episodes of ‘The Fresh Prince’ ever (which is saying something, considering they had a “Will gets shot and Carlton vows revenge” episode), Will tries to keep Jackie from hooking up with a college football star by challenging him to a drinking contest. He drinks too much and ends up abandoned in a graveyard, getting lectures about the dangers of drugs and alcohol from ghosts. No, seriously.
Key line: “FREEEEEEEEEEEEZE!”
Carlton is awesome.
This is the last ‘Fresh Prince’ appearance for Jackie, played by Tyra Banks, because no self-respecting Swimsuit Issue covergirl is going to be seen in public with a guy who gets guilted into sobriety by dead Robin Quivers and a mystical greaser. That’s not something you can Smize at.
One of the great things about the episode is that there’s no real resolution besides “Will learns a lesson and throws up”. Jackie never comes back, Will never redeems himself, and the college football guy is totally fine and just abandons Will in a cemetery. There isn’t even a moment later where he stumbles into the mausoleum all, “wuh wuh WHERE AM I?” Just lessons. What a drag.
(Guest contributor Danger Guerrero of Warming Glow)
Episode: “Banks Shot” (season 1 episode 22)
What Happens: Will gets hustled in a seedy pool hall. Uncle Phil shows up and tries to win his money back, but the hustler beats him game after game, too. Will begs Uncle Phil to stop, but he insists he can win. The hustler agrees to keep playing only if the stakes are raised to $100 a ball, at which point Uncle Phil’s face goes stone cold and he has Geoffrey produce his personal pool cue, “Lucille.” To Will’s surprise, during a montage set to “Soul Man,” Uncle Phil wipes the floor with the hustler, winning back Will’s money and then some. Uncle Phil is a man of many secrets.
Key line: “Geoffrey … break out Lucille.”
I played a lot of pool growing up. Really, a lot. A couple of my friends had pool tables in their basements, and we would spend hours and hours of our teenage weekend nights playing against each other, only taking breaks to use the bathroom or to run outside to grab more beer out of the coolers hidden in our trunks. We started doing this because, well, there isn’t much else to do way the hell out in the suburbs when you’re 16, and also because it gave us an outlet for all our competitive and sh-t-talking juices. We became good almost by accident.
Sometimes, when I was good and drunk and behind in a particular game, I would wait for my opponent to miss a shot, calmly ask if he wanted to up the stakes, then turn to someone (who was never named Geoffrey) and announce “Geoffrey… break out Lucille.” Then I would proceed to dance around like an idiot between shots like I was Uncle Phil exacting vengeance on a predatory pool shark. No one found this as funny as I did, which is understandable, I suppose, because I found it HILARIOUS. Even when no one dramatically produced a new cue stick from inside their pants and screwed it together for me, and even when I continued losing the game with the new, higher stakes, I laughed and laughed and laughed. That one was for me, even if it was a little expensive sometimes.
My point here is that I am a jackass and I watched a lot of Fresh Prince as a kid.
Episode: “Stop Will In The Name Of Love” (season 4 episode 18)
What Happens: At some point during the run of the show, Ashley went from being a naive 10-year old to being the brokest version of Aaliyah ever, so a bunch of episodes center around her being a pop singer about to be humped by boys. In this one, nobody trusts her to go on a date without coming home dead or pregnant, so she ends up having a horrible time on a double date at a miniature golf course and can only express herself by singing Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’. This is absolutely a white sitcom writer’s idea of a black teenage girl’s idea of Cameron Crowe.
Key line: “Does this look a place to have fun? I don’t think so, ain’t nobody gonna have some fun around here! Not you, not me, not her!”
For the record, Ashley’s only good musical performance on the show was thanking God for this stupid food.
Will’s depiction of a miniature golf course as a place of stress and misery is pretty accurate, and the idea that this smooth little teenager was gonna strip Ashley and just buttf**k her on the windmill or something was pretty irrational. Bel-Air’s “Putt-Putt World” is amazing, though. They had to make the set look like a mini-golf course but they only had a room’s worth of space, so they just put all the holes on top of each other. They’ve got camels the Eiffel Tower and everything.
Also of note, this is the episode where Carlton sings ‘My Guy’, which is sorta how my brain looks when it processes happiness.
Episode: “I, Stank Hole In One” (season 6 episode 21)
What Happens: Carlton decides to attend a foreclosure seminar instead of partnering up with his father in their annual golf tournament because they always lose. Will subs in for him, and when Carlton sees Will and his dad bonding, he gets jealous. Will wants to keep playing, but eventually fakes an injury so Carlton can sub back in and sink a long putt to win it for the Bankses. Meanwhile, Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ plays in the background multiple times, because you should not worry and instead be happy.
Key line: “You can play with Carlton’s clubs.” “What? You want me to play on my knees?”
A secondary sports moment from this episode is the B-story, wherein Ashley and Vivian try to get along while playing tennis, but it’s fake Vivian again so f**k her. I almost included Actual Viv’s dance audition as a sports moment just to get her on here. It was either that or ‘Wade In The Water’. Wading’s a sport!
The entire time I was watching this episode I was hoping for Will to shank a ball right into a group of guys who were Up To No Good at the golf course and get airplane spun again. Then Uncle Phil would get scared, and the next four seasons of the show would take place in Nebraska, or wherever. I also wondered why it took them so long to do a formal golfing episode, since Carlton’s wardrobe was golf course ready on day 1.
Episode: “My Brother’s Keeper” (season 2, episode 15)
What Happens: Will is the best player on his team’s ‘Saved By The Bell’-esque gym/classroom hybrid basketball court, but he may be TOO good … if his performance overshadows Malibu Prep’s star player Marcus Stokes, Stokes could lose his chance at a college scholarship. Should Will take a dive to save a guy’s life, or should he just shoot three-pointers off every jump ball and singlehandedly destroy him like always?
Key line: “Oh, Carlton, I dreamed you had hair like Don King.” “Did I look taller?”
Despite the high drama of Will’s spotlight importance threatening to ruin the chances that a guy will have enough money to survive and feed his child (in a weird Pursuit Of Happyness prequel), the sports moment of the episode goes to Bel-Air’s Coach Smiley, who punishes Will by giving him 20 laps, then transfers the punishment to Carlton so Will won’t hurt himself. That goes a long way to explaining why Carlton was so f**king jacked by the end of the show … Will was always screwing around, and Carlton got prison-ripped.
Also, I really miss sitcoms being able to namedrop Don King for a laugh. Don King’s hair was the most viable joke of the 90s. All you had to do was strap Balki or Cody from ‘Step By Step’ or whoever into a fright wig and it was on. I guess King had to hand the “rich guy can’t groom himself properly” gag to Donald Trump for the 2000s.
Episode: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way From The Forum” (season 3, episode 11)
What Happens: Will develops a crush on a pregnant sportswriter played by top shelf 1990s Vanessa Williams and attends a sold-out Lakers game as her guest. But LOOK OUT, being pregnant on a sitcom means you’re due to give birth within the next 22 minutes, and, sure enough, her water breaks while they’re stuck in a parking lot traffic jam. Guess what happens? If you guessed “nobody helps and the baby dies”, you have never watched television.
Key line: “I think my water just broke.” “It’s ok, we got another one right here in the mini-fridge.”
Seriously, if you’re pregnant and a sitcom character approaches you, you should either prepare to name your unborn baby after them or run the hell away, because they’re about to induce labor. Mr. Belding’s wife should’ve just squatted in the elevator and spread her legs the second Zack Morris showed up.
I think this may be the television episode that made me a blogger. I really admired the glitz and glamor of riding in a limo, getting tickets to sold-out basketball games and having The Fresh Prince scream in my face while I’m trying to give birth. It’s pretty funny that in season one Will makes jokes about wanting to hook up with Vanessa Williams, and two seasons later he’s got his hands between her legs.
This episode was probably Vanessa’s best TV guest spot until she showed up as a Risian on ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’. Yeah, I went there.
(Guest contributor Josh Kurp of Warming Glow)
Episode: “I Know Why The Caged Bird Screams” (season 4 episode 16)
What Happens: In the only episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air named after a Maya Angelou story, with the exception of season two’s regrettable “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Eat Apple Piiie,” Will and Jazz steal a rival college’s statue, Mikey the Mustang. In retaliation, said rival school, Southern California University, then boosts the University of Los Angeles’ mascot, Carlton…in a peacock outfit. And without their precious ‘cock, who’s trapped in a comically large birdcage inside a sorority, the football team loses their confidence, so it’s up to Will, who had previously placed a $500 bet on the game, to don the blue-green plumage. It doesn’t go well, hilarity ensues, there’s a “take off your pants” gay joke, etc.
Key Line: “That’s it, we’re dead.” “Well, he’s not exactly Vince Lombardi.”
The Carlton as a peacock material is amusing, but the two highlights of ‘I Know Why…’ are:
1. A bizarre act break that shows Carlton in the birdcage, while a never-heard-from-before-or-again narrator teases, “Does this spell doom for the Fighting Peacock football team? Stay tuned, same Fresh Prince time, same Fresh Prince channel,” Batman-style; and
2. The following Will-Jazz exchange: “Jazz, you fed me a bad tip, man. I might owe your bookie $500 that I don’t have.” “Tony the Shovel ain’t gonna like that. Just ask Flat Nose Gary.” The Fresh Prince knew the value of a good tough guy nickname joke, to say nothing of the intrinsic comedic power of a sight gag involving a grown man in a bird outfit.
Episode: “I, Stank Horse” (season 6 episode 20)
What Happens: ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ was five episodes from cancelation and Will Smith was already becoming a big movie star, so this episode is about Sexy Teen Ashley getting an acting job in a lingerie commercial that pisses everyone off with a secondary story about Carlton and Hilary adopting an old race horse (“Wednesday Bingo”) to keep it from being put down. Thankfully at no point does Nicky fall from it and get amnesia.
Key line: “I ain’t tryin’ ta be lookin’ at that horse all day man. Now just watch some TV, and take you’re mind off of it.” “Hello. I’m Mr.Ed.” “You bastard!”
Also key …
Carlton: [sings] “The sun’ll come out tomorrow!”
Jockey: “The owner wants to put him down.”
Carlton: “What?! When?”
Will: [sings] “It’s only a day away!”
Writing these Sports On TV columns has really shined a light on how bad sitcoms get when people stop watching them, but they’re still too profitable to cancel. ‘Full House’ had amnesia angles, ‘Family Matters’ sent Urkel into space, ‘The Simpsons’ had seasons 10-23 … ‘The Fresh Prince’ never got BAD, necessarily, but once Nicky got Cable-aged and started making jokes about Bad Boys everyone was pretty much already out the door.
Episode: “Robbing The Banks” (season 3 episode 15)
What Happens: If you couldn’t tell from the title of the episode, the Banks get robbed~! The thief takes everything, including Will’s precious Willie Mays autographed baseball. The suspect: Luther, an ex-con who was hired to be the family’s new handyman. He’s also Mr. Friendly from ‘Lost’, so he’s really suspicious.
Key line: “I’m calling the police man.” [police show up] “Damn! That was fast! They must’ve thought we was white folks.”
Of course, Luther turns out to be innocent. The real culprit was Phil’s assistant Edward (Will calls him a “black Howdy Doody”), who gets sick of fetching bagels for Phil and cleans him out. To continue the awesome casting in this episode, Edward is played by Phil LaMarr, AKA Hermes Conrad from ‘Futurama’. AKA The 52nd Earth King Kuei from ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ if you want to get REALLY nerdy.
The family learns a valuable lesson about second chances and not jumping to conclusions, but the kicker of the episode is that NOBODY stole Will’s Willie Mays ball … Ashley took it to use for batting practice, wiping off the signature because “somebody wrote all over it”. Will runs up to her room and destroys her Tevin Campbell posters, which she probably really missed for the remaining 4 1/2 minutes of Tevin Campbell’s fame.
Episode: “Boxing Helena” (season 6 episode 12)
What Happens: Will picks up Nicky after a boxing lesson and scoffs when he finds out Nicky’s instructor is a woman named Helena. He dismisses her with a wank until she punches him several times, prompting a sparring session and Will’s last official “pick a fight with somebody, then get the shit beaten out of him” moment. Also of sports note in this episode: that amazing moment where Carlton gets browbeaten by a fitness instructor and screams like a slasher victim on the butterfly machine.
Key line: “Your mama.” “Mama said knock you out!”
You’d think the best part of the episode would be Will’s Heath Slater-like sell of Helena’s knockout punch, but it’s actually that ‘Fresh Prince’ writers were so into episode title puns they wrote an inter-gender boxing episode based on a 1993 film about an obsessed surgeon who kidnaps a lady, traps her in his mansion and amputates her limbs. Julian Sands should’ve shown up and garroted Hilary.
Here’s the fight in its entirety:
Still better than Ali.
Episode: “Will Steps Out” (season 5 episode 11)
What Happens: Will spends six years making jokes about how his Uncle Phil (the guy who took care of him, hugged him when his dad abandoned him, put him through prep school and college, etc.) is fat. To help him understand Phil’s plight, 1990s fitness person of note Susan Powter puts Will in a fat suit with no crotch. She sticks around to get the Banks family in shape, too, but bails when Carlton gets too annoying.
Key line: “I bet you can’t walk a mile in your uncle’s shoes.” “My uncle can’t walk a mile in my uncle’s shoes.”
You may remember Susan Powter as the obnoxiously-enthusiastic lady with the blonde buzzcut from fitness tapes of the early 90s. She was sorta the “Miss Cleo” joke of 1994. If you don’t remember Miss Cleo, she was a fortune telling lady from the late 90s. Sorta the “Flo From Progressive” joke of 1998. Long story short, Susan Powter was who you got to pimp your product if Body By Jake was busy.
This is the episode where Will declares his love for Lisa, naked in a fat suit in a grocery store. He passes off his magical “Chick-tionary” to Carlton, who develops a The Last Dragon glow when he holds it. Meanwhile, Susan Powter gets dragged back to Hell by those sketchy special effects ghosts from Ghost and is never seen or heard from again.
Episode: “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” (season 4 episode 2)
What Happens: Trevor Collins-Newsworthy was the luckiest man in the ‘Fresh Prince’ universe. He was a successful anchorman, looked more or less like Aaron Sorkin’s idea of Barack Obama and was engaged to rich, future TV star Hilary Banks. She requests a special proposal from him, and, as 90s sitcom characters are wont to do, he chooses bungee jumping. That quickly ends his run as the luckiest man in the ‘Fresh Prince’ universe.
Key line: “I ain’t no bungee expert or nothing, but I don’t think he’s supposed to be slammin’ into the ground like that.”
‘Fresh Prince’ got full-on Death At A Funeral with Trevor, making jokes about how he was buried without his real head and having Hilary clutch an urn to her bosom before being told Trevor wasn’t cremated (followed by Geoffrey seeing a stranger’s ashes to the door, and I guess tossing them out like so much Jazz).
This episode stands as a great deterrent for anyone who wants to bungee jump … not only is it deadly, but you run the risk of being mocked incessantly when you die. RIP, Trevor, you were briefly the man.
Episode: “I, Bowl Buster” (season 6 episode 16)
What Happens: Carlton has an obsessive personality and can’t deal with anything, so he reacts to the pressures of being accepted to Princeton by deciding to bail on it completely and become a professional bowler. Being a bowler means Carlton is BEING HIMSELF and not BEING WHAT HIS FATHER WANTS HIM TO BE, which is great because like five minutes earlier he was so bad at bowling they could ironically put ‘Bad To The Bone’ behind clips of him f**king up.
Key line: “It is a sad, sad day indeed when Will Smith becomes the voice of reason.” Yes, Will. Yes it is.
Will challenges Carlton to a game with high stakes: If Carlton wins, he can become a professional bowler. If Will wins, Carlton must take his narrow ass to Princeton. It shakes down like you think it would. If I could go back in time, I’d make this the last episode of ‘Fresh Prince’ and position myself as the head writer of ‘CARLTON!’, the NBC spin-off about Carlton moving to New York City and becoming a bowling champion. I’d try to work in Donna de Matteo as the poor man’s Portia De Rossi who runs the local bowling alley.
Regarding the screen cap I used for this entry, it’s hard to even figure out how Carlton got in that pose and got the bowling ball there unless you watch the episode. Even then, it’s pretty tough.
Episode: “You Bet Your Life” (season 3 episode 21)
What Happens: Will, Jazz and Carlton head to Nevada to look at a college and end up at a cafe/casino. Carlton develops a gambling problem on the slot machine, and as he’s Speed Pilling his way around begging for quarters, another patron waltzes up and wins the jackpot. That patron: two-time heavyweight champion and former undisputed world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. Will stands up for Carlton, and, after hilariously begging for his life for like five minutes, gets punched in the face.
Key line: “Look, the time comes when a man has to take responsibility and fight his own battles … and I’ll let you know when the time comes. Give me ten on Bull.”
I like that during the run of the show, Will picks a fight with both Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. They should’ve done an episode in season 5 where he got into it with Andrew Golota and got punched in the nuts.
By season 3, Carlton has fully transformed from a shallow, stuffed-shirt yes-man into the confrontational, mincing psychopath he is until the end of the show. Carlton’s always getting obsessed with stuff … gambling, amphetamines, murdering Will’s assailant. At one point Will and Jazz decide to bail and leave him at truck stop or whatever (it’s close to “Balls Gap”, according to a sign) but drive back because Uncle Phil would break out the Shredder gloves and f**k them up. Or guilt and love, whatever.
Riddick Bowe would’ve gotten a Guest Actor In A Comedy Series Emmy if he’d opened his mouth all the way to say even one of his lines.