The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight on a local basketball court. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series lasted for six seasons and aired for a total of 148 half-hour episodes.
Will Smith, a popular rapper during the late 1980s, was approached by NBC in December of 1989.
The pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990. Season 1 production began in July 1990 with #446802 and ended in March 1991 with #446824. The series finale was filmed on Thursday, March 21, 1996, specifically production codes #60122 and #60123.
The theme song was written and performed by Smith, as "The Fresh Prince". The music was composed by QDIII (Quincy Jones III), who is credited with Smith at the end of each episode. The music often used to bridge scenes together during the show is based on a similar chord structure. The full version of the theme song was used unedited in the first three episodes. The full-length version, which is 2:52, was included on Will Smith's Greatest Hits album and attributed to him only. A 3:23 version was released in the Netherlands in 1992, reaching #3 on the charts.
The mansion used for the exterior shots of "the Banks mansion" is a house located at 251 North Bristol Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90049, which was built in 1937.
Interiors were shot on a sound stage on pre-made sets. After Season 1, the mansion sets were completely rebuilt. In the second season, the kitchen and living room sets were rebuilt much larger with a more contemporary style as opposed to the much more formal style of the first season, and were connected directly by an archway, allowing scenes to be shot continuously between the sets.
The theme song and opening sequence is set to the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenager, born and raised in West Philadelphia, while he was playing basketball, Smith lost a shot, and the basketball starts hitting a group of people, which causes a confrontation that frightens the mother of Will, who sends Will to live with his aunt and uncle in the town of Bel-Air, Los Angeles. He flew from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on a one-way ticket in first class. He then whistles for a taxi that is described in the opening sequence as having a vanity plate with the word "FRESH" on it. He pulls up into the house about 7 or 8, and he yells to the cabby "Yo homes smell you later". He looked at his kingdom he was finally there to sit on his throne as the prince of Bel-Air.
Cast and characters Edit
- Will Smith as Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith
- Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks
- James Avery as Philip Banks
- Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks
- Janet Hubert-Whitten as Vivian Banks (Seasons 1–3)
- Daphne Maxwell Reid as Vivian Banks (Seasons 4–6)
- Tatyana M. Ali as Ashley Banks
- Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey, the Butler
- Ross Bagley as Nicholas "Nicky" Banks (Seasons 5–6)
- DJ Jazzy Jeff as Jazz
- Nia Long as Lisa Wilkes, Will's girlfriend and later fiancée (Season 5)
- Tyra Banks as Jackie Ames, Will's ex-girlfriend
- Vernee Watson-Johnson as Vy Smith, Will's mother
Crossovers and other appearances Edit
During the fall 1991-92 season, NBC gained two hit television shows to anchor their Monday night line-up (Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). To gain popularity between the two shows, Will Smith appeared in an episode as himself under the rap persona of The Fresh Prince. Several episodes later, Karyn Parsons showed up in an episode of Blossom as Hilary Banks. Parsons also appeared in the Patti LaBelle sitcom, Out All Night as her Fresh Prince character.
In the House and Fresh Prince were both executive produced by Winifred Hervey, David Salzman and Quincy Jones. During the second season's first episode, Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali appeared as their Fresh Prince characters (Carlton and Ashley Banks) in the crossover episode "Dog Catchers". Later that season, James Avery (Phillip Banks) appeared as a mediator in the episode "Love on a One-Way Street". In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks) guest starred as Dr. Maxwell Stanton's parents. Both Avery and Reid portrayed the parents of Ribeiro's Fresh Princecharacter. Joseph Marcell, who played the wisecracking Geoffrey Butler on Fresh Prince, also appeared as an officiating minister in the same episode.
The series was originally an NBC production in association with The Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Entertainment. After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was released to syndication in 1994, the series has been distributed by Warner Bros. Television Distribution, which continues to distribute the show worldwide although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright. WGN America became the first cable channel to pick up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1997, TBS picked up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air a year later in 1998; both channels picked up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air until the fall of 2003, though TBS picked up The French Prince of Bel-Air again in 2007. The theme song was shown in the original TBS run, but after TBS picked up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air again in 2007, the opening credits were cut short and the theme song was trimmed off, and they changed it to the instrumental version, which was used as the show's closing theme; these versions also re-added portions of scenes that they were omitted from the original syndicated prints for some episodes, particularly those from seasons 3-6. TBS continues to air the series today, early in the morning. Reruns also aired on WPIX-TV on weeknights from 1994 until 1996, and as a weekday basis, sometimes on weekends until 2004.
In 2004, Nick at Nite picked up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and continued to air until 2009, as well as sister network through Nickelodeon The N now TeenNick with portions of scenes that were omitted from other syndicated airings, with portions of scenes kept in other syndicated airings that they were omitted due to time constraints; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was removed from its schedule in September 2009 after Disney/ABC purchased the rights to the show. The show came back to Nick at Nite on September 29, 2014.
In July 2009, Disney XD picked up the rights to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, though it was quickly moved from prime-time to late night airings, and only episodes from seasons 1-3 are aired, mainly because those episodes are more appropriate for young viewers and does not consist of much mature themes, sexual content and strong language as later episodes. But in August 2010, Disney XD discontinued airing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
ABC Family, which is now called FreeForm picked up The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in September 2008, though airing all 148 half-hour episodes; originally airing exclusively on Saturday nights, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was picked up by ABC Family's weekday line-up in late 2009. On September 29, 2014, Disney/ABC rights to the show expired. Viacom Media Networks got the series back.
In October 2014, Viacom Media Networks also gave the series to BET, it will also air on Centric.
It also currently airs on MTV's retro block.