“Raven’s Home” Review/Freak-Out

July 21st at 10pm will stand as the greatest moment of my life. My heart was racing, I was a little shaky from excitement, it was a moment. It sounds over-the-top and cheesy, but it’s hard to describe (even though I’ve attempted to this week on the site) my absolute obsession with this show. Imagine your favorite thing of all-time leaving for a decade, then making a triumphant return. All the emotions.

So, the show began with a “Raven’s Home was filmed in front of a live studio audience.” voice over you don’t normally expect from Disney Channel, but was exciting. The laughter never felt recorded at any point, always felt organic.

Now, the actually 30 minutes flew by and were exactly what I wanted. My biggest worry was even though Raven’s name is in the title and the first billing in the opening credits, she wouldn’t get much to do. However, my worries were laid to rest mighty quickly. Raven gets equal time with her children, which is great. The first “crazy situation” was the perfect way to start the show off and to introduce kids who didn’t grow up on TSR to the concept.

The most interesting take-away is the family secrets brewing. I would never have expected Raven to hide her visions from her kids, but brings fun dynamic to the show. On top of that, Booker begins to get visions in the pilot episode and decides to not tell his mother. Psychic Drama Alert! It will interesting to see how long those secrets last and if their visions ever overlap (like the episode of TSR where two psychics, unknown to each other, save a girl from being hit by a school door.)

Booker and Nia, Raven’s children, are both great and I’m excited to see where the show takes them over the course of the first season. Chelsea’s kid, Levi, is exactly what you’d expect Chelsea to raise and he really holds his own against his mother, who is a comedic heavyweight in my eyes. Tess, the neighbor across the hallway, is also a fun comedic character who I’m excited to see get into more shenanigans,

Their Chicago apartment is wonderfully designed. Since Raven and Chelsea are both on a budget, the space is cramped. However, all the decorations look like a Pinterest user’s dream come true. Lots of DIY details really make the space great. Also, have we ever seen thee couch on a sitcom be a pull-out sofa?! Groundbreaking.

The writing was killing it all episode, making me laugh uncomfortably loud a few times. “Son of a Chelsea” is not only a genius line, but what Raven adds to it with her energy and inflection (“Boy, we gonna have to put a bell on you…”) made my laughing spree grow. Chelsea had some great moments as well, with “Raven, you can’t go to the gym! You’re wearing wedges they have no traction!”

I am so relieved and excited and overwhelmed at how good the pilot was and how strong the set-up is for the season to come. I’m thrilled to be back into the Baxter/Daniels fray and I cannot wait for more. Now, to figure out how to get a role on the show…

Cheetah Girls 2: Celebrating 10 Fierce Years

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. This article originally appeared on LaughingPlace.com in April of 2016.

August 25th, 2006 was the date. I had just started the fifth grade at a new school. I was rezoned to an elementary school that was needed, but wasn’t built, so the campus was made up entirely of portables. Instead of the kids I had grown up with, it was a smattering of students from the area. Those first weeks of school were rough for all of us. We had a new campus to get accustomed to, along with new friends, new teachers, a new curriculum, etc. There was one thing that connected many of us, however, and that was the all-important DCOM Cheetah Girls 2.

That night the film premiered, followed by the world premiere Vanessa Hudgens’ first music video “Baby Come Back,” and I went bananas. I called my friend Victoria during every commercial to gab about what was happening. The Monday we returned, most of us in my AGP class had memorized lyrics and choreography already. We then proceeded to recreate scenes from the movie at recess.

For those unfamiliar, the movie followed four girls who had a music group to a singing competition in Barcelona. Tensions were high and sabotage from other performers was present as they set out to bring their act around the world and to make their success go global. It starred the Queen Emeritus of Disney Channel (and if I have anything to say about it, Disney Legend inductee?), Miss Raven-Symone.

Now, let’s talk very quickly about Raven because she ruled Disney Channel during this time. That’s So Raven continues to be the best Disney Channel original series of all-time. Cheetah Girls 2 is the best musical DCOM they’ve ever released. She also had multiple singles and albums (most of which I sing to myself in my room on a daily basis) with music videos that played all the time, “Some Call It Magic” being my fave. She was everywhere, and for good reason, since her talent is incredible. I love CG2, but I LOVE Raven Symone.

I made lifelong friends from the Cheetah Girls 2 obsession (HEY LAUREN HEY! FABULOUS SNAPS FOR DAYS!). However, it not only changed my fifth-grade experience, it changed Disney Channel.

On August 25th, 2006, Disney Channel solidified itself as the Queen of Musicals. Cheetah Girls, the original, did well. HSM did extremely well. Those two could have been flukes, but the ratings success of CG2 (actually beating HSM as the most watched DCOM of 2006) made it known that the movie musical was back to stay. Not only was it back to stay, but Disney Channel was the only one that could make the ratings successes happen. With that, we received Cheetah Girls 3Camp Rock 1 and 2, High School Musical 2 (the third being released in theaters), Teen Beach Movie 1 and 2, and now Descendants. Nickelodeon tried to compete, but theirs were nowhere close to the television blockbusters Disney produced. Do you remember Nickelodeon’s Rags? Exactly.

While #HSM10 was a huge deal and I still miss the days of singing “We’re All In This Together” at lunch with friends (Wildcat Claw, Wildcat Claw, Punch Right, Punch Left…), Cheetah Girls 2‘s 10th anniversary is the one we should be celebrating — it changed the face of Disney Channel.

 

Raven-Symonè: My Idol

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. This article originally appeared on LaughingPlace.com in December.

For those unfamiliar with my blog and writing, you may not know that I am 20 years old. (If this is the first article you’ve read by me, sorry for my abrasive tendencies, love of capitalization for emphasis, and my constant mentions of Bunheads.) Being a millennial and a child of the early 2000s, I grew up during the Disney Channel Golden Age. This, being a self given term, was when every sitcom was firing on all cylinders, every DCOM was an event, and when the stars of the channel were the biggest names in showbiz.

I grew up with a vast knowledge of Hannah Montana’s discography (It’s still there, too. “I Got Nerve” is her best track and I will fight you on it.) I grew up knowing Taran Killam before SNL (Looking at you, Stuck in the Suburbs). I grew up counting the hidden Z’s in Zenon: Z3 to unlock the bonus content online.

There was one person, however, that I grew up with that truly shaped me into the person I am today, and her name is Raven-Symonè.

That’s So Raven was the pinnacle of television comedy for me, and frankly still continues to be. The chemistry between Raven and her costars (I love you Anneliese Van Der Pol!) was the best Disney Channel has ever seen. They never seemed scripted. Their comedic timing was top notch, especially for a sitcom made for a demographic that doesn’t scream for impeccable line reading.

On the show, Raven showcased ability to be fantastic at verbal or physical comedy. It stills holds up, as well. Yes, she always has a vision and yes, she always gets it wrong. However, the variety of storylines they produced always kept the central idea fresh. The show was so successful, that Disney Channel allowed it to become the first sitcom on their network to reach 100 episodes. That is saying something.

On top of the successful series, she had The Cheetah Girls franchise, the Zenon franchise, a role in my favorite film of all-time (Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement) and many an album and single released.

When you hear comedians discuss who their idols growing up were, you always hear the same names. Carlin, Ball, Van Dyke, Pryor, etc. Raven is that for me. Some don’t understand how someone so young can still be an idol, but I truly believe Raven-Symonè single-handedly gave me my love of comedy.

Not only was her work on her own sitcom inspiring, but how she held herself even more so. She always is appreciative of her fame and doesn’t want to slack off. It is her job to perform and she does an incredible job at it. As someone who wants to get into the industry through comedy, it is a great message to carry around as I work towards achieving my goals.

On top of all that, we need to take a moment to talk about her music, because I am actually obsessed. I have a friend who will always play multiple Raven tracks in a row as we drive into Disney World now to get me excited for the day at the parks. Her covers are brilliant (“Superstition?” Great. “Grazin’ in the Grass?” Legendary. I sang that so much that my 2nd grade teacher probably still loathes me to this day. “Double Dutch Bus?” Don’t start playing it in the car, ’cause there isn’t enough room for me to flail from excitement.) and her originals are even better (“Backflip” is my all-time, go to jam. “Some Call It Magic” is the only song I ever requested on Radio Disney…and 2 years after it was released. #SorryNotSorry). Heck, I could write a 20-age dissertation on how the Disney Channel Stars’ covers would have failed without her riffing. (COME THROUGH, CIRCLE OF LIFE) She created an entire brand out of incredible comedy, fantastic music, and a genuineness and understanding of the business that led to my obsession and fascination with entertainment as a whole.

Why am I writing this now? Well, a few weeks ago, it was announced that That’s So Ravenwould be receiving a reboot. I was watching The View when she made the announcement and it was a lot for me to handle. She said the words “That’s So Raven 2” (or “Too”…maybe she was just citing the second soundtrack to her sitcom?) and I began to cry. This isn’t me exaggerating. I actually began to cry over the announcement.

I do hope that they allow Raven to shine on the sequel, even if the show will prominently feature her kids. While I adore Girl Meets World, Cory and Topanga are not a focal point. Raven deserves to continue to be the star, as her brand of comedy has been sorely lacking on the network and TV at large. I NEED her to get into her own shenanigans on the new show.

The show means everything to me. It’s a fantastic comedy, but also as the thing that kickstarted my love for the medium and genre. Here’s hoping I can work my way up to being on the show in the ultimate full-circle moment.

Thank you, Raven-Symonè. For teaching me how to be funny. For showing me true talent. For being an inspiration for decades. Thanks. For everything.

The Importance of That’s So Raven’s “True Colors” Episode

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday.

During my rewatch of That’s So Raven to prepare for Raven’s Home, I had the opportunity to view the “True Colors” episode. Airing in February of 2005, the episode focused on the past and present of Black History Month and the black experience in America.

The Cory plotline has him trying to write a school report on Black History Month. During an extended dream sequence, Cory meets the black icons and trailblazers of the past. It is a quick segment in the grand scheme of things, but a really important one for me as a kid. It was one of the first times I heard names like Bessie Coleman and Madame CJ Walker. In the normal elementary curriculum we are accustomed to hits the same highlights every year. Martin Luther King Jr. George Washington Carver. That’s about it. They invite around 10 different black figures who have changed the face of the globe into the Baxter house during Cory’s dream sequence.

The main purpose of the episode is to highlight racial discrimination in the workplace and how it still exists in a post-Civil Right society. Yes, you read that right. A Disney Channel sitcom tackled workplace racism and prejudice.

When Raven goes to apply for a job at the mall, Chelsea joins in. Raven aces the interview. Chelsea…completes it. When Chelsea gets the job, shockingly, and Raven doesn’t, questions arise.

A vision comes in and it shows the shop manager saying “I don’t hire black people,” and the air drops out of the room. From there, the show straight up tackles racism. It’s an important episode and one that opened up an important dialogue for kids across the country.

When the episode was released, I was in the 3rd grade. Up to that point, all discussions of Black History Month were in the past. Modern black icons were never discussed, nor was anything talked about post-desegregation. All events and people after that were ignored in school. So, even though I knew it existed, seeing a television show mention it in such a direct way was important and incredibly educational.

That was one of the first moments where my eyes were opened to the prejudices of people in the world and how racism still exists. It began an important conversation for a generation that wasn’t receiving it in school, all while still bringing the laughs. However, did we expect anything less from the show that tackled body shaming and culture-based bullying?! NO MA’AM.

 

Anneliese Van Der Pol: Underrated Icon

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. 

That’s So Raven made Raven, and understandably so, the center of attention. Her timing was spot-on and she brought all viewers along this crazy supernatural comedic ride. However, Miss Chelsea Daniels, played effortlessly by Anneliese Van Der Pol.

Chelsea is beloved, don’t get me wrong. I mean, she’s a key part of Raven’s Home. However, Anneliese deserves more credit for anything and everything she does.

Anneliese spent 4 seasons as Chelsea Daniels. I’m currently rewatching the whole series and Chelsea really has a big personality change across the run of the show. She started off as a confident best friend character at the beginning, but slowly turned into someone who is three clicks behind everyone else. She built onto the character with ease and consistently stole scenes she was in. I don’t plan on getting a tattoo, but if I did, it would just be “Do You Carry A Lunchbox?”

During her stint on the show, she wasn’t given the similar trajectory of other Disney Channel stars, which is a bummer. I still wish she had the opportunity to star in a DCOM of her own. However, we did get some incredible singles. She stole the show on two different Disneymania tracks sung by the Disney Channel Stars. “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Circle of Life” are Anneliese’s. Sorry ’bout it.

She did get to flex her solo chops on a gorgeous cover of “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon that is on my Top 5 song list. She also sings “Over It” from the DCOM Stuck in the Suburbs. Girl can belt. BELT. It’s an underrated track that deserves more credit.

Anneliese then went on to become the theatre star she was always meant to become. Beauty and the Beast closed on Broadway with Anneliese as the final Belle. Let me repeat: Girl can BELT. I wish the entire production was recorded with her in it, but at least we have this performance.

After that, she went on to star in the off-broadway musical Vanities. The show was destined for Broadway, but the recession hit and the show rode off into the sunset. The album is fantastic and her performance on “Cute Boys with Short Hair Cuts” is mindblowingly good. I hope she goes back to Broadway again in the near future, as she deserves all the acclaim and all the Tonys.

After a guest appearance on Shake It Up, she’s back on Disney Channel and I am ready for it. My beloved Anneliese is back to kill the comedy game once again. Anneliese Van Der Pol deserves the title of Disney Channel Legend.

“A Wrinkle In Time” Has Us Shook Into Another Dimension

We received the first teaser trailer for the upcoming film A Wrinkle In Time, being released March 9th, 2018. I have come back from the grave to write this post, as this trailer left me dead. The stunning imagery (Ava DuVernay’s visual style is clearly seen in the first clips and it is SO appreciated. Look for the shot of the three witches in the tall grass, as it made me yell “OH MY…”), the gorgeous cover of “Sweet Dreams,” and the Oprah narration all mix together to create one of the great teaser trailer’s I’ve ever seen.  Check out the trailer below.

The trailer was announced following the cast coming out on stage at the D23 Expo Live-Action panel. I really loved seeing them quickly talk about the film and the true excitement on all of their faces. Watch for Ava being thrilled to be there, stay for Oprah giving everyone posters.

The Perfect Raven Playlist

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. 

Raven’s Home premieres this Friday at 10pm on Disney Channel, but you gotta get pumped! The only way is to listen to some sweet Raven jams. Now, we as a society overlook Raven-Symone’s fabulous recording career and that is a damn shame.

Raven-Symone is my favorite Disney Channel recording artist ever. Her songs covered all the nooks and crannies of the pop genre and we were treated to some real gems. She was a part of the Cheetah Girls for two films, released 2 soundtracks for That’s So Raven, and had an iconic solo album in 2004 that is the score to my dreams, honestly.

I’ve created the ultimate Raven playlist you can jam to prior to Friday’s launch and beyond. Once again, the Spotify playlist will be embedded, but just click the Apple Music link to reach that playlist.

Apple Music Playlist Link

 

“That’s So Raven” Essential Episodes

This week is Raven Week on disneyBOP! We’ll bring you a new post leading up to the premiere of Raven’s Home this Friday. 

The entire series of That’s So Raven is available on the Watch Disney Channel app, WatchDisneyChannel.com, and On Demand through your television provider. Since this Friday is the premiere of Raven’s Home on Disney Channel at 10pm, you don’t have the time to fully binge the series, ya nasty. However, during the four seasons and 100 episode run of the show, some episodes that are key to the That’s So Raven puzzle were released. Here’s the essential episodes you must watch before Friday.

  • Season 1 – “If I Only Had A Job” – Do you listen to music? Do you watch TV? Do you carry a lunchbox? These are the existential questions of our time thanks to this classic episode. Raven gets a vision that her father will be fired from his job as head chef at a restaurant, but her original plan to help goes awry (shocker).  Her follow-up is to pretend to be a famous (debatable) singer and yell her way to his rehiring. From Chelsea’s Sharon Osbourne impression to the random gospel choir sitting in a booth, it is required to sing along. “Since Victor left the food’s no good…”
  • Season 1 – “Psychics Wanted” – I go back and forth between a few, but this maybe my favorite episode of the entire series. How does Raven try and make money? By becoming a TV psychic of course. I mean, she has the credentials. When she tries to help a caller into becoming her boyfriend, hijinks ensue. Add in a great guest appearance by Niecy Nash and a Chelsea cat bit that I try to include in everyday conversation, it’s possibly the one episode that is a perfect representation of That’s So Raven.
  • Season 2 – “That’s So Not Raven” – Body Shaming is gross, we all know that. But you know who was dropping truth bombs about the subject a decade ago? Raven. Baxter. When Raven enters her designs into a fashion contest, but models the clothes herself, the contest head tries to make the dress get on a skinny woman anyway possible. It takes a sensitive issue and really makes it hilarious and empowering. GO RAY.
  • Season 2 – “Road to Audition” – Raven thinks she sees a reality TV talent scout walking the halls of Bayside in a vision, which can only mean one thing. MUSICAL EPISODE! Our favorite crew decide to ambush the guy with impromptu musical performances wherever he goes. While not every song is great (Cory’s number is a big ‘ole pile of “eh”), stick around for the delightful Paula Abdul cameo and Chelsea’s “Alone in the Hallways,” which I continue to sing to this day. Just the stairwells, the lockers, and me.
  • Season 3 – “Chef-Man and Raven” – Victor gets to be on a cooking show and brings along Raven to be his assistant. The recipe sneaks in mushrooms. Raven is allergic to mushrooms. ICONIC prosthetic work and scream, a TSR specialty. The parody of cooking competition shows is also pretty great.
  • Season 3 – “Mind Your Business” – Senorita Rodriguez, my role model, sponsors a a competition for entrepreneurs. The team that makes the most money on an original product they sell at school wins a mall shopping spree. Our fave trio will stop at nothing to win that shopping spree, even if a little popcorn gets in their way…and probably in their clothing. One of my favorite TSR final predicaments.
  • Season 4 – “Sister Act” – Sydney, Raven’s Mentee/Muse in the final season, joins her in the Little Miss and her Big Sis Pageant. It includes fabulous costumes, Chelsea and Eddie singing a memorable diddy I still can’t get out of my head (“We’re just sisters [BEAT] Sisters ’round the world!”), and Muffy. Muffy, y’all. Queen of all things. MUFFY. Ugh, what a legend.

“Disney Design Challenge” Disappoints in the End

Recently, we highlighted the fantastic “Disney Design Challenge,” which was Disney Style’s first foray into a competition series. OTIS College students competed to have their Frozen inspired designs turned into a reality, along with a college scholarship. The series was short, but the designs were stunning and fantastic.

Friday at the D23 Expo, they finally unveiled the designs that would be produced and be on sale. Once again, the designs were gorgeous, but then I went on the site in the hopes to purchase. Then, I saw the prices. Woof.

Nineteenth Amendment partnered with the series to release the clothes and I get it, they cater to an audience with tons of cash lying around. I also understand high fashion labels collaborating with Disney for various clothing lines, but when it’s a YouTube series, maybe we should drop the price a bit.

Just by nature, a Disney Style YouTube series is going to be watched by a very young demographic. That’s just how YouTube works. So, when you then release the items and a t-shirt goes for $118, that’s a tad insane.

It’s really a stunning jacket, but over $300 for it?

The items up for sale are all good quality, gorgeous items. I planned on picking up this wonderful bomber jacket inspired by anna, but at $325 (!), that’s a plane ticket to NYC to see Frozen in March.

I am here for Disney clothing at all price points. However, when you base a YouTube series around upcoming items for purchase, maybe make everything, ya know, affordable?

Icon. Legend. EDNA.

The Animation panel at this weekend’s D23 Expo just wrapped up and we got a lot of news and previews for what’s to come. One of my favorite things to come out of the event was this absolutely fabulous video highlighting the genius behind fashion icon, Edna Mode. Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Zac Posen, and more join in the praise fest to highlight the fashion icon herself. No capes, of course.

May her star shine bright from years to come.