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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday Morning: That's So Raven

Before I get into talking about today's blog topic, I want to just offer up a little reminder for most of you reading this.

For a good number of you, November 6th (tomorrow) is the date we are supposed to turn our clocks back one whole hour, beginning at two in the morning. Since most of us probably won't be up at 2am, most of us do this the night before. So, just to once again reiterate this message, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour this weekend.

Now that this has been said, we can continue. Ironically enough, this entry is sort of contrary to the Daylight Savings Time practice we'll be observing this weekend. Whereas this weekend is about turning the clocks back, this blog entry is about looking ahead into the future.

How many of you have wanted to gaze into the future, wondering how your life would turn out? If you were granted the opportunity to see your future unfold right in front of your eyes? If you were given flashes of visions that would be linked to an event happening in your direct future, would you want to know?

I'll admit that when I was growing up, the idea of wanting to know what the future held was there. Everyone wonders what kind of people they would grow up to become ten, twenty, even thirty years down the road.

And, here's a 'shocking' admission. Anytime I tried to see my future, I would end up being completely wrong. I remember being ten years old, and predicting that I would be rich, famous, and married by the time I was 25, and well...that didn't happen. But, maybe my calculations were off that day. ;)

But I'm not the first person who have made incorrect predictions about what the future would hold. I mean, look at Miss Cleo who boasted that if you called her now, you would get a free psychic reading that would change your life forever. She managed to build a pretty lucrative business out of fortune telling before being exposed as a charlatan in the early 2000s. She wasn't even Jamaican!

Oh, and there's Harold Camping who predicted that the world would end not once, but twice in 2011. And yet when May 21 and October 21 came around, surprise, surprise, we're all still here, just as I expect that we'll all still be here in 2013 despite all the 2012 theories out there. Last reports state that Camping has now 'retired' from the business of predicting the apocalypse, but really, would we have really believed him a third time anyways if he had dropped another phony date?

The point is that as far as the future goes, for the most part, it is uncertain and unpredictable. We all can make predictions about how we think or want the future to be (in some cases, those predictions are more of a public spectacle than others), but most times those predictions don't usually amount to anything. I mean, if we could all predict the future, the odds of winning the lottery would greatly increase, right?

But what happens when you have a Saturday morning sitcom that features a girl who can see into the future? And what happens when the visions that this girl gets aren't exactly clear? Sometimes people can see into the future, have a vision about something that is going to happen, but can't quite understand what the meaning is, or misinterpret the vision completely, but in the case of this show, most of the time, it leads to hilarity, confusion, and sometimes can get the beholder of the vision into major trouble.

The name of the show is That's So Raven, and it just happens to be the subject of today's show. Part of the reason why I chose to talk about this show is because my goal with this blogging project is to bring up subjects from different eras and genres in the hopes of attracting an audience made up of all ages. But I also wanted to showcase this television series because I actually kind of liked it. And besides, it greatly showcases the life lesson that I want to feature in this blog for today, which is...

...the future isn't always set in stone. Only you can examine it, interpret it, and follow it to the best of your ability. Don't predict it, just live it.

Wow...that was kind of epic.

The show was named after its star. Raven Symone played Raven Baxter on the program, and for those of you who are at least as old as I am, you probably may remember Raven Symone best for her role on The Cosby Show, where she played the role of Olivia from 1989-1992. 

Wasn't she cute?

Or, if you're a little younger, you may remember her from the TGIF sitcom 'Hangin' With Mr. Cooper', which aired from 1992-1997. And she also made quite a number of guest appearances on several television shows over the years in everything from A Different World to Bill Nye The Science Guy.

The idea for That's So Raven was conceived during the summer of 2001. The basis of the program had shades of 'I Love Lucy' incorporated into it, as the program was designed to have a lot of slapstick comedy and sight gags blended into the show, but with a twist. The main character was to have supernatural abilities and the ability to see into the future. Sometimes these visions were very clear, and foreshadowed an event, but others were not quite so clear.

During the development of the show that became That's So Raven, the name of the show, as well as the main character was changed at least twice. Initially, the show was titled 'The Future Is On Me', where the main character was to be called Dawn Baxter. Then the show's name was to be known as 'Absolutely Psychic', and the character's name was changed again to Rose Baxter. Finally, when it was revealled that Raven-Symone had won the part of the main character, the character was changed to Raven Baxter, and That's So Raven became the show's official title.

The show's pilot was filmed during the summer of 2001, and during the 2001-2002 season, the first few episodes were filmed. Now, here's an interesting fact about the debut of the show. The show actually debuted four months earlier in Europe than it did in North America. Disney Channel UK began broadcasting the program in September 2002, but the American version of the Disney Channel chose to wait until the new year to broadcast the show.

On January 17, 2003, That's So Raven debuted on the Disney Channel, and the show was actually responsible for a series of 'firsts' for the Disney Channel during its entire run.

First #1 – The program was the highest-rated show in the history of The Disney Channel. As of November 2011, the show still performs well in syndication. The program was the first one in the history of Disney Channel to score a viewing audience of over three million people.

First #2 – The program was the first show ever aired on the Disney Channel to reach one hundred episodes (prior to this, the most a Disney show could hope for was 65 episodes).

First #3 – The program was the first sitcom to air on Disney Channel.

First #4 – The program was the first to have a direct spin-off (in this case, it would be the show Cory In The House, which ran for two seasons).

First #5 – The program was the first to be shot on videotape, use a multi-camera format, and filmed in front of a live studio audience.

I guess looking at all that, the show was groundbreaking for its time, wasn't it?

The show also seemed to have a cast that really gelled together and worked together very well, which helped sell the show. I mean, Raven-Symone's portrayal of Raven Baxter was quite memorable, just because Raven was such a loud personality. She was feisty, stylish, and often uses expressions such as 'Oh snap!' and 'Oh, no he didn't!'. She often has visions that may or may not be clear, and her attempts to figure out what the visions were lead to some rather awkward moments, a lot of disguises, and a whole lot of everything going wrong. Want some examples? Okay.

Now, unlike a lot of shows dealing with the supernatural, in which they are forced to keep the secret of their powers, this doesn't happen in That's So Raven. Although the vast majority of the public are unaware of Raven's powers, most of Raven's family and her two closest friends knew all about her visions, and more often than not, became the unsuspecting victims of the very visions that she saw.

Take Raven's best friend Chelsea (Annaliese van der Pol). Chelsea was always a kind-hearted vegetarian environmentalist who loved animals and nature, but let's just say that her elevator didn't quite rise up to penthouse levels. As a result of this, sometimes Raven took advantage of her, and the two friends have gotten into fights because of it. But when Raven had a vision of Chelsea's art project breaking (which happened just seconds later), Raven dressed up in silver clothing and face paint to stand in for the statue until the art exhibit was over.

Raven's other best friend, basketball player and aspiring rapper Eddie (Orlando Jones) was also a victim of Raven's lost in translation visions. Once, at Eddie's birthday party, she had a vision that Eddie's divorced parents were getting back together again, but the vision proved to be mistaken, and almost ruined the party. But the misunderstanding was cleared up, and Eddie and Raven were cool again.

Then there are the visions surrounding her family. Raven had a traditional family which had her father Victor (Rondell Sheridan), mother Tonya (T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, who left the series during its final year), and younger brother Cory (Kyle Massey), who found themselves getting wrapped up in Raven's visions as well. In most cases, these visions lead to a whole lot of trouble for Raven.

When Raven has a vision that Victor is going to be fired from his job, Raven tries to go over to his workplace to try and stop the event from going on. Sadly, Raven's efforts only serve to get Victor fired anyways (thus proving her vision true). By the end of the episode, Raven, Chelsea, and Eddie manage to help Victor get his job back, but this would be a good example of how Raven's visions could have devastating consequences because of misreading them.

Or when Raven and her mother went off on a spa day, and Raven discovers her favourite singer, Miesha, is vacationing at the same spa, she has visions that she will end up meeting her under some wacky circumstance, but can't quite figure out what those are. Of course, when Miesha's dog happens to jump into Raven's bag, and she's accused of dognapping, it leads to chaos. Surprisingly enough, the episode ended off on a positive note.

So, here's something that is rather interesting. Despite Raven's visions usually leading to trouble, everything worked out in the end anyways.

Whoa...a second life lesson at work here! When something goes wrong, in most cases, the damage can be repaired over time if both parties are willing and able. Wow, I'm getting better at this life lesson thing than I thought!

And besides, in some cases, Raven's visions did end up proving to be very helpful. When she had a vision of Cory shoplifting from a store, coupled with Cory's strange reaction to a monkey keychain Raven had found (not realizing that Cory had stolen it after succumbing to peer pressure), Raven dressed up as a police officer to make her vision come true by convincing Cory to stop hanging around the friends who told him to steal, and to convince Cory to return the keychain he stole.

And when Raven and Chelsea were applying for a job at a trendy boutique where Chelsea ended up getting the job despite Raven having a better application, Raven was confused, yet happy for Chelsea. But when Raven had a vision of the saleslady telling someone that she didn't hire black people to work for her, she knew that she had become the victim of discrimination, and set out to use that vision to prove her point.

Raven's visions were pretty sporadic looking back on it. Sometimes, the visions were crystal clear, while other times, it was hazy.

But you know what the one common denominator for all of these visions was? Every single vision she had came from a direct result of an action that Raven did to set everything in motion. In that sense, she became the beholder of her own destiny. She was the one who controlled the visions, rather than the visions controlling her.

And really, isn't that the ultimate life lesson here? Not to let fate control you, but for you to control fate?

Think about it.

And, don't forget to set your clocks back!

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