TV tropes about kids growing up and forgeting the magic of [insert holiday/family tradition here] is nothing new but tonight's episode proves as long as you do it well or with slightly new takes, hitting the tried and true is no problem. As Halloween season started we saw Andre go into his over-the-top mode with decorations, prank enthusiasm and a family costume plan. First it seemed like none of the kids were on board and we had a sad Dre. Turns out after years of getting pranked Rainbow had enlisted the kids to get a jump on her husband, leading up to a tepid home invasion prank. But thanks to a camera in the refrigerator (crazy or crazy like a fox?), Dre was on to them and took it up a notch by having his work friends Josh and Charlie pretend to break in. You had to know that Josh was going to have to take another punch, this time at Bow's hands. And then feet. But the payoff at the end of the family in their polyester Jackson 5 costumes was a perfect feel-good kicker to all the shenanigans.
Here are some random thoughts.
--Why won't anyone give Bow some credit for saving that man's life after he'd been under water for 20 minutes? And setting him up so he could leave the hospital with very little brain damage at that? I see you, boo. Seriously though, can we just acknowledge that she's pulling off the superwoman thing?
--I am not just grateful for the visibility of this portrayal of a black family living a normal, okay a sitcom normal, life, but I'm happy to see a portrayal of a long-term marriage, shown with a closeness and rapport presumably built on the years of struggle. A portrayal where they still really like each other. This couple went through Bow's med school, multiple pregnancies and child rearing. The shorthand they have with each other shows and for that, lots of credit goes to Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson. (They do keep it real though: Bow's mini breakdown that ended with her saying "He's a lot to take" was a nice acknowledgement of Andre's "big" personality.)
--I surprisingly didn't feel Laurence Fishburne's absence as much as I would have thought given how many choice lines he's been given in previous episodes. That's a testament to how much heavy lifting the kids in the series do and how much they are able to share the comedic load. That said, bring back Pops!
--Here's hoping Dionne Warwick is in on that joke that ended the episode as Andre and Charlie tried to see if there was a famous black person neither of them knew, trying to disprove Josh's latent racist belief that all black people know each other somehow. After working down an extensive list in which they did indeed know everyone, Andre said: "Dionne Warwick?" Charlie: "Beautiful woman. Generous lover." And then tried to backpeddle. Too much? And am I the only one still trying to warm up to Charlie?
What did you think of tonight's episode?