An NCIS alum scored a new role on Bel-Air, a serious reboot of the classic Will Smith sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Scottie Thompson, who played Jeanne Benoit on the procedural, will join the Peacock series as Angela Wilkes. Her character is stepmother to Lisa, Will’s primary love interest.
Also joining the cast is Walking Dead star Joe Holt as Fred Wilkes, Angela’s husband and the local police chief. Previously announced cast members include Jabari Banks as Will, Adrian Holmes as Uncle Phil, and Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Viv. Additionally, a handful of supporting actors have been cast: Karrueche Tran, Stevonté Hart, April Parker-Jones, and Charlie Hall. As of right now, no original cast members are in the cast. Bel-Air is a true reboot, not a revival.
“Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show,” Peacock said in a statement about the show. In addition, Smith, star of the original show, returns as an executive producer.
While the reboot takes a heavier approach to the series, fan debated whether or not anyone wants a darker Fresh Prince. After all, the show was carried by Smith’s trademark humor and his chemistry opposite costars James Avery and Alfonso Ribiero. Recapturing that kind of dynamic is a challenge.
SNL Spoofs Bel-Air
In a recent skit, Saturday Night Live mocked Bel-Air with a fake 1990s reboot of their own. The skit opens with a voiceover : “Chicago. People from outside call it Chiraq, but I call it home. Around here, ain’t not good news on the newspaper’s page. Only advantage I’ve got–my mind. That don’t count for much in these streets because out here, you’ve got to make a name for yourself.”
Then, the star of the show is revealed: Steve Urkel. Pointing out the flaws in trying to make a serious show about a comedic character, the skit takes a ridiculous yet funny approach to making everything gritty. Perhaps the highlight of the entire skit sees Urkel fighting the boyfriend of his crush Laura Winslow. As he continually punches him, Urkel repeats his signature catchphrase: “Did I do that?” The skit ends on a humorous note. Having a heart-to-heart with Laura’s father Carl, Urkel is told “family f—— matters.”
The writers of SNL got their point across. It is possible that removing the humor from Bel-Air takes with it the charm. As they put it in the skit, the reboot offers“the goofy characters you loved in the ’90s with absolutely none of the fun.”
Even so, judgment should be reserved for after Bel-Air premieres. The series heads to Peacock in 2022.