Did we like it?
This sweet, inventive sitcom concocted from the teenage life of comedian Chris Rock is the ideal substitute for the waning Malcolm In The Middle (we’re getting a tad tired of Lois howling, Hal’s howlers, the boys being naughty then nice ad infinitum).
What was good about it?
• Nobody could hate Chris, the coolest nerd on the block, beautifully played by Tyler James Williams. He got us on his side from the start as he stoically faced up to unfairness from his folks, his siblings and his fellow pupils at Corleone Junior High, an all-white school in the Italian part of town.
• Chris achieving little victories along the way – even though most were quickly followed by new defeats.
• The use of banal racial harmony anthem Ebony & Ivory during the scene in which Chris was being clobbered by racist red-headed school bully Joey Caruso
• Chris Rock’s voiceover – a long way from the sentimental narration of the similar The Wonder Years. The best bits were:
“Much like rock’n’roll, school shootings were invented by the blacks and stolen by the white man.”
“We’ll see what she thinks when her daughter brings home OJ one day.” – when a pregnant white woman refused to sit next to Chris on the bus
• Dad Julius’s obsession with penny pinching, a constant battle seeing as his wife insisted: “I run this house like they run the country – on a deficit.” Julius made the three kids share out a McDonald’s meal. “One time I just got the ice,” Chris complained. And every bit of wastage drove Julius’s crazy. “That’s 49 cents of spilt milk. Somebody’s gonna drink this milk.”
• The bus driver desperately trying to get away from the stop before Chris could reach the door
• Chris’s desperate efforts to prevent his sleeping father being woken – eg wrapping the toilet cistern in blankets and pillows, and covering his sister’s face with a cushion when she giggled at a cartoon they were watching silently
• Setting the show in Brooklyn in 1982 means we get some fine funk all over the soundtrack, starting with Get Down On It
• The family’s attempt to move upmarket which unfortunately landed them in a neighbourhood of crack dens, graffiti and drive-by shootings.
• Chris’s admiration of his younger brother: “Drew was so cool, he could get girls at 10 that I couldn’t get at 30.”
What was bad about it?
• Mum Rochelle’s roaring admonitions don’t come close to matching the ferocity of Lois in Malcolm In The Middle