The Third Season
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All photos © The CW
Reviewed by Will Harris
he 2007 – 2008 season looked to be a really good year for “Everybody Hates Chris.” Not only was the series returning to the air for its third season with the first-ever on-camera appearance by its narrator, Chris Rock, but it was being paired with a new single-camera comedy, “Aliens in America,” which was such a perfect match in feel and tone that it seemed a foregone conclusion that The CW would, at long last, finally be considered a place to find intelligent comedy. Unfortunately, however, “Aliens in America” didn’t catch on with viewers right away, and the usually tolerant CW opted out of giving it another season to build an audience.
Oh well. At least “Everybody Hates Chris” is still funny. It’s just too bad that it’s surrounded by comedies that just aren’t as smart as it is.
With Season Three, Chris (Tyler James Williams) finds the real world starting to encroach on his life. Not that living in Bed-Stuy isn’t about as real as it gets, but in the season premiere, he takes one of those career assessment tests, and when he makes the mistake of presuming that it doesn’t count, he quickly finds himself in the office of the guidance counselor (Chris Rock), who tells him just how dim his future looks. As it turns out, however, the counselor provides him with advice that kids don’t hear nearly as often as they perhaps should, namely that going to college isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that a lot of people with degrees will gladly admit that they wish they had the money they wasted on tuition to pay bills instead.
Chris starts to delve into romance more this season as well, desperately pursuing Tasha (Paige Hurd) while remaining utterly mystified about women in general. He attends a spin-the-bottle party, but while he doesn’t end up getting to kiss Tasha, he does score his first kiss; in typical Chris fashion, however, the girl tells him never to speak a word of it to anyone, then promptly tells her boyfriend about it to make him jealous. In another episode, Chris is assured that women love men who act like bad boys, but while the new badass Chris impresses Tasha enough to get her to go out to dinner with him, he goes overboard and fails to keep her in his good graces.
We get a bit of fleshing out of the extended ensemble this year, with local vagrant Kill Moves (Jeris Poindexter) turning out to be a millionaire that just prefers to live on the street – a fact which is confirmed by his mother (Phylicia Rashad) during a poignant Christmas episode. There are continued pop culture references from the ‘80s as well, with Chris getting psyched about attending a Run-DMC concert, the kids celebrating Earth Day at school, and Drew catching Wayne Gretzky fever, resulting in both a hilarious running joke about the dearth of black hockey fans and a well-utilized appearance by Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL. For the most part, though, this is just another great season of storylines about the teenage experience, with enough B-stories about the adults to keep both parents and kids involved in the series. The season’s best episode is “Everybody Hates the Port Authority,” which takes place almost exclusively within New York’s famed bus terminal, features a guest appearance by Wayne Brady, and finds various members of the family losing way more money at Three Card Monte than your heart will be able to stand.
Is “Everybody Hates Chris” just as funny this season as last? Absolutely. Keep it coming, Chris, and maybe one of these days you’ll get another shot at a companion series that matches the quality of comedy you’re putting out.
Special Features: You’ll be thrilled to know that another great season’s worth of special features have been offered up for fans. The commentaries vary in quality – Vincent Martella is great as Greg, but he’s not the greatest commentator – but the most illuminating inclusion are the director webisodes which provide backstage looks for just about every episode of the season. There are plenty of deleted scenes, a gag reel as well as an “unplugged” look at Chris Rock’s voiceover sessions, a featurette called “Location, Location, Location” (guess what that one’s about), and the best of Ms. Morello’s ridiculous comments made to Chris over the course of the season. There are also cast interviews, but the most fun inclusion is probably the video by Slaver Slav, which is hysterical.