Friday, April 2, 2004
What genius decided to remake "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" -- in reverse? In that popular '90s sitcom, Will Smith played a street-smart Philadelphian whose antics outraged his snobby California kin. In the new comedy "The Big House" (7:30 p.m., ABC), stand-up comedian Kevin Hart plays a college freshman named Kevin who is forced to flee Beverly Hills and lodge with his Philadelphia cousins after his father is sent to prison for embezzling.
"Big House" breaks no new ground, but it might mingle well with ABC's other uninspired comedies. One can't ask for much from a network that sets "According to Jim" as its gold standard.
Keith David and Arnetia Walker are mildly entertaining as Kevin's tough-love-dispensing uncle and aunt. Hart, who appears to be pushing at least 30, is particularly unconvincing as a college kid. He also rings less-than-true as the spoiled son of privilege. While he occasionally whines, his accent, attitude, wardrobe and behavior hardly seem worlds apart from his relatives of more modest means.
- Sometimes sleaze doesn't rise to the top. Fox has cancelled "Playing it Straight" and has replaced it with helpings of "Totally Outrageous Behavior" (7 p.m., Fox) and "World's Craziest Videos" (7:30 p.m., Fox). As announced earlier, "Wonderfalls" has moved to Thursday nights at 8 p.m., changing places with the pointless "Forever Eden" (8 p.m., Fox).
- Speaking of confusing schedule changes, many readers have been wondering where "Third Watch" has gone. The drama will return later this month with special guest appearances by 1970s icons Henry Winkler ("Happy Days") and Kate Jackson ("Charlie's Angels").
- "On the Record with Bob Costas" (10 p.m., HBO) returns for a fourth season of sports gab and more. Tonight's guest, actor Billy Bob Thornton, will discuss his role in "The Alamo." Thornton will also star in an upcoming screen adaptation of the book "Friday Night Lights," H.G. Bissinger's nonfiction chronicle of a Texas town's passion for high school football.
Tonight's other highlights
- Louise Fletcher ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") appears on "Joan of Arcadia" (7 p.m., CBS).
- Anne Heche, Diane Ladd and Kristen Bell star in the superior 2004 TV drama "Gracie's Choice" (7 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network).
- Mac has to escort a rowdy suspect on "JAG" (8 p.m., CBS).
- Jerry Van Dyke guest stars on "The District" (9 p.m., CBS).
- Evidence of a cult slaying on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9 p.m., NBC).
Jay Leno greets Sylvester Stallone on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).
The Rock, Colin Quinn and The Sleepy Jackson chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Kristin Davis, Ron Perlman and Ben Jelen appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).