Rating: Not Rated
Bernie Mac as Bernie “Mac” McCollough
Kellita Smith as Wanda McCollough
Camille Winbush as Vanessa “Nessa” Thomkins
Jeremy Suarez as Jordan Thomkins
Dee Dee Davis as Bryana “Baby Girl” Thomkins
22 episodes on four discs
Commentary by Bernie Mac, series creator Larry Wilmore, and director Ken Kwopis on the pilot
A&E TV-ography “Bernie Mac: TV’s Family Man”
Dolby Surround Sound
Running Time: 504 Minutes
This four disc set contains the first season of The Bernie Mac Show. There are 22 episodes included here which originally aired in 2001 and early 2002. The show is based on the comedy act of Bernie Mac.
Bernie Mac is a well known, successful comedian living in Los Angeles. His wife is a Vice President at AT&T. They live a happy, peaceful life alone together. However, when Bernie’s sister is arrested for drugs, he agrees to take in her three children. Despite being loyal to family, Bernie finds himself in over his head. Thirteen year old Nessa is sullen and disrespectful. Young Jordan is emotional, has early asthma, and is prone to temper tantrums and panic attacks. “Baby Girl” Bryana repeats everything she hears while at the same time not generally listening. Bernie is determined to lay down the law and give them an old fashioned, strict upbringing. But he soon finds that all of his ideas work better in theory than in practice.
I”ve only seen a few episodes of the Bernie Mac Show, but I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve seen. Getting the first season on DVD allowed me to catch up on how the series was set up and filled in all the blanks that I wasn’t clear on.
I’ve always enjoyed Bernie Mac and this series is based on his comedy act (though significantly cleaned up in language and content). Mac seems to be following in the steps of Bill Cosby by going from stand up comedian to TV dad. Mac is a bit edgier, though, and less politically correct. His “old school” approach of strictness, spankings, and ‘busting heads’ offers up a lot of laughs. For example, it’s funny to see him threaten to beat Nessa’s head “till the white meat shows” only to have her turn around and call the social workers on him. It’s this conflict of ideologies that keeps the show entertaining.
This show is also unique in a couple of other ways. First of all, Bernie constantly talks to the camera and provides commentary on what’s going on. It’s funny to tap directly into what he’s thinking and hear everything that he’d never say out loud. The other unique touch is the addition of text notes on the screen as the story progresses. For example, as Bernie gives a lecture to the children, a note points to the little girl and says “thinking of cookies”. These funny comments go on throughout the whole show and pop up at random times to provide extra laughs. The comments almost become a character in the show.
The rest of the cast is good, but they are overshadowed by Bernie himself. Jeremy Suarez (from Brother Bear) is good as the panicky kid Jordan, but otherwise the others are not noteworthy. Bernie’s Ocean’s 11 co-star Don Cheadle makes a cameo appearance in the last two episodes as Bernie’s shady, loser cousin. Cheadle looks like he has a lot of fun in the role.
There are only two extras included on this DVD:
Commentary by Bernie Mac, series creator Larry Wilmore, and director Ken Kwopis on the pilot These three key players in the show pop in for commentary on the series pilot. You’d think that Bernie Mac might dominate the commentary, but that’s not the case at all. They all jump in and offer commentary at one point or another. They reminisce about how young the kids look, discuss the trials of getting some of the shots done, etc. They also discuss how the network executives were initially wary of some of the material (like joking that Bernie wants to ‘kill’ the kids). If you’re a fan of the show then you’ll probably get a lot out of this. On a side note, the audio for the commentary is terrible. It sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom.
A&E TV-ography “Bernie Mac: TVs Family Man” This excellent show provides a 45 minute biography on Bernie Mac. It tells about his early childhood being raised by his strict grandmother. It then movies on to tell about his marriage at a young age and his early days as a foul mouthed shock comic. The show then talks about his early comedy tours and the beginning of his movie roles. They discuss his roles in Ocean’s 11, Charlie’s Angels, and more. It then ends by discussing his TV show. While the series isn’t based on his real life, it is definitely inspired by it. For example, this biography reveals that Bernie didn’t take in his sister’s three kids, but he did take in his troubled young niece and her daughter. If you’re a fan of Bernie Mac, you’ll want to check this out.
The Bottom Line:
If you’ve been following the Bernie Mac Show then you know these episodes are worth adding to your collection. If you’ve never seen the show, you’ll want to check it out. ‘It’s quite a treat.