Reboots of 1990’s IPs have become the rage these days. The difficulty is, as I see it, taking what made a particular movie or television show special while making it feel current.
The latest in this long line of re-imagining is Bel-Air. Airing on the Peacock network, it is a revival of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the narrative of the pilot follows the story of its predecessor. Will Smith (Jabari Banks) is a young man living in Philadelphia with his mother. His future seems to be all set with a basketball scholarship in his sights. That all changes when a fight breaks out and he is thrown in jail.
Upon release, Will is immediately put on a plane to Los Angeles. He is to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Bel-Air. To say that he is a stranger in a strange land is an understatement. This world of wealth, power, and access is far from the city life he is used to. But underneath the shine are rough edges that when revealed, could have dangerous consequences.
I’ve only seen the first episode. I really enjoyed it. There was enough of a skeleton of its predecessor combined with a boost of modern reality to keep me engaged. What I really liked was delving into the larger cultural problems that led to Will’s abrupt change of fate.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Bel-Air is available for streaming on the Peacock network.
Up until that point, Frost’s reputation is not exactly that of a journalistic heavy hitter. Nixon hopes to use that reputation to revive his public perception and earn a hefty check in the process. For his part, Frost has to overcome the doubts that his team has in his ability to succeed. What neither knows is the game that the other will play and how challenging it will be.
This movie is fantastic. The acting is top notch and the story immediately pulls the audience in. Langella almost disappears into the character of Nixon. Though the makeup and prothesis helps, it is the actor who does the heavy lifting. For his part, Sheen as Frost, has the more difficult job. He has to prove that his character has the chops to take on one of the most infamous men in American history.
If there is one takeaway from this movie, it is that politics never changes. Though the narrative takes place nearly fifty years ago, it is a relevant today as it was then.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Frost/Nixon is available for streaming on Peacock.
When looking to the past for what is hoped to be future success, Hollywood often banks on nostalgia bring eyeballs to the screen.
The reboot of the popular 1980’s series Punky Brewster premiered on Peacock the end of last month. The title character (Soleil Moon Frye) is now a forty something photographer and a divorced mother of three. Her musician ex, Travis (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has just finished another tour and is co-parenting with Punky. Her longtime bestie Cherie (Cherie Johnson) is a social worker. Cherie asks Punkie to temporarily take in a foster child, Izzy (Quinn Copeland) until she find a home for the girl.
When the original series premiered, I was a little too young for it. But I certainly knew of it, as did many who were born in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I watched the first two episodes last night. I wanted to like it. Unfortunately, the certain something that makes a reboot successful is missing from Punky Brewster.
Do I recommend it? No.
Punky Brewster is available for streaming on Peacock.
World on Fire (PBS): This PBS/Masterpiece follows a group of individuals as World War II is on the horizon.
Mrs. America (F/X/Hulu): In the 1970’s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was close to becoming the law of the land. A tug of war begins between one group of women that is for it and another that is against it.
Sanditon (PBS): Based off the unfinished book of the same name by Jane Austen, we follow Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a young woman who leaves her family for the seaside resort town of Sanditon.
When Governor of California Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) wastes a bunch of money, the ax falls on a low performing high school. Daisy Jimenez (Haskiri Velazquez), Devante Youg (Dexter Darden), and Aisha Garcia (Alycia Pascual-Pena) are forced to transfer to Bayside High School.
Used to a lower income neighborhood and a school lacking in resources, they are shocked to see what the kids at Bayside view as normal. Paired up with Mac Morris (Mitchell Hoog), Jamie Spano (Belmont Camell), and Lexi (Josie Totah) as “Bayside Buddies”, they don’t always see eye to eye or understand each other.
Trying to help the new students adapt are alumnus turned staff Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkely Lauren) and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez). Above them is Principal Ronald Toddman (John Michael Higgins). Though we only see First Lady Kelly Morris (nee Kapowski) briefly, she is ever present in the background.
I only watched the pilot, but I can say with certainty that is as close to a perfect remaining as one can get. Old school fans of the original series (myself included) will instantly be taken back thirty years. Younger viewers will be able to connect to the story, as it is very relevant for 2020.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Saved by the Bell is available for streaming on the Peacock network.