Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"I wasn't heartbroken. I don't remember this happening.": Two weeks of Everybody Hates Chris

Did you know there was a new Everybody Hates Chris last week? Because I sure didn't, until I saw it lurking and waiting for me on TiVo several days after it aired. So you get a special two-fer, darling readers. You're so lucky!

Anyway, Chris has been so consistent in both what's good and what's not so good about it this season that it's probably better that I do two at a time anyway. So let's start with last week's episode, which had Chris morphing into a DJ briefly (and I found it sort of unbelievable that he would be so good straight off, but what do I know?) and impersonating James Brown (see above) when he ruined his mother's copy of Brown's The Payback. He feared her wrath, then tried to find a new copy, the final wad of cash he dropped on the cost of NOT being a DJ (an amusing runner, but how did he get THAT MUCH cash?). I liked Chris' excitement at getting a big gold chain, and I really liked Tyler James Williams' James Brown impersonation. Williams is a gifted mimic (notice, earlier in the season, how Williams' delivery of the jokes in Chris' campaign speech mirrored the delivery of the real Chris Rock -- a fact first pointed out by friend o' the blog and newly minted TV writer Kenny), and when the show gives him a chance to indulge this talent, instead of just being the awkward young teen he usually is, he almost always makes the most of it.

I think Chris is at its best when it's examining the relationship of Chris to one of his parents, and this episode was good at showing how Chris didn't want to disappoint his mom, but ended up doing so anyway (and I loved the record skipping gag with the gospel choir at the end of the show too).

But I couldn't mention this episode without talking about Julius' fear of rabbits. I know the writers get a lot of mileage out of giving such a big guy amusing foibles (his love of soap operas being another), and seeing Terry Crews freak out at seeing a rabbit at the magic show WAS pretty awesome (especially since they found a neat way to make it explainable, featuring clips from Night of the Lepus, of all things), but I wouldn't be a good Buffy fan if this didn't immediately make me think of Anya's rabbit-phobia.

So that brings us to this week, which was another pretty good show, but seemed a bit egregious in its use of Chris Rock's narration (though, again, the meta-gag featuring grown-up Tasha almost made up for the whole thing). Rock is always the deliverer of most of the traditional jokes on the show, but the writers can use him as a crutch a little too often, even if he's a pretty reliable crutch to go to.

The episode focused on Chris' relationship with his other parent (when he elected to go to a movie with a girl instead of to a baseball game with his dad, only changing his mind at the last minute to then find out that the tickets his dad had gotten from his brother-in-law were fake). Williams and Crews don't have a ton of scenes together, but when they do, it's always a treat, just because the two have such a nice chemistry and the writers really understand this relationship and never oversell it, the way Chris' relationship with his mother sometimes can be.

Speaking of his mother, her attempts to keep her brother from dating the woman at the salon were pretty funny, as it let Tichina Arnold yell a lot (always funny), and I also liked her quest for a Billy Ocean photo for Tanya (which had a great closing gag with the Billy Dee Williams photo). Arnold usually has more to do than this, but even in weeks when the focus isn't on her, she's a consistent scene stealer.

So do any of you watch this show? Judging from the ratings, I guess not.

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