Many were a little skeptical when Peacock premiered its trailer for the upcoming, Will Smith-produced reboot of day-glo 1990s fish-out-of-water sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. (Rechristened Bel-Air, for new millennium grittiness.) But at least the original was wont to occasionally tackle some pressing issues of the day, as Smith’s titular West Philadelphia transplant grappled with being a young Black man in America. (Watch this if you want to see why Will Smith is an acting icon these days.)
But not every fondly remembered TV institution is ripe for the updated and realistic rehash treatment. After all, for every Perry Mason, there’s a Powerpuff Girls. (And then there’s Riverdale—where did we land on Riverdale?) Regardless, common sense and leaving well enough alone has never stopped TV executives before, and, on last night’s Ariana DeBose-hosted Saturday Night Live, it seems there’s another Fresh Prince-esque do-over in the works.
“Chicago—people from outside call it Chi-raq,” intones Chris Redd’s half-seen character as he dons oversized glasses, a multicolored striped hoodie, and bright yellow vest. “Out here, you gotta make your own name,” Redd’s protagonist states, before walking past a battered and bullet-holed mailbox emblazoned with the single name, Urkel.
In the proposed reboot of the same name, Redd’s Steve Urkel is still a nerdy genius inventor, but this time he’s got to contend with a drunken mother (“I raised a damn nerd!,” scoffs DeBose’s mother, shattering her booze-glass against Steve’s Einstein poster), a questionable mentor in Kenan Thompson’s tormented, strong-arming Chicago cop Carl Winslow, and a penchant for violent lashing-out. Especially at the worthless suitor to longtime crush, Laura (Ego Nwodim), who cowers as the furious Urkel asks a singsong, Joker-style, “Should I do that?” while holding his romantic rival at gunpoint.
With reviews calling this Family Matters re-imagining a really, horrifically terrible idea (Entertainment Weekly’s take is simply that GIF of Kevin Hart blinking in disbelief), the series’ prospects might seem as bleak as the robot-building Steve Urkel’s future. Still, Steve’s always got Carl, here dispensing the tough love that “family fucking matters.” Coming soon, probably.