On this week’s episode of Raven’s Home, Raven’s ex-husband, Devon (guest star Jonathan McDaniel,) moves away to Texas, leaving the kids missing his presence. Raven decides to go overboard to make her kids feel like nothing will change without their dad. Before Devon leaves, he gives Booker and Nia an oversized Teddy Bear he won them at an amusement park, and Chelsea unknowingly throws it away, thinking the box it was in was full of trash.
The main plot of this week’s episode has a strong focus on family, which is the driving force behind Raven’s Home. Unlike other episodes, ‘The Bearer of Dad News’ focuses primarily on Raven, and the episode benefits from this. Raven and Chelsea are the biggest strengths the series has when it comes to characters because fans old and new either have, or will grow to, love them.
Raven is true to her character from the days of That’s So Raven in the sense that she is witty, hysterical, and over the top in her attempts to get the kids to feel like nothing’s changed even though their dad is now out of the picture. She does her best to keep things the same, which equates to turmoil for her: Devon enjoys making spicy food and watching scary movies with the kids, both of which Raven can barely tolerate.
Nonetheless, Raven puts her children first and endures a hilarious meal of spicy chili the kids concocted. As she cries and moans, suffering from ‘chili blindness,’ the show employs some pretty basic slapstick comedy, but it harkens back to the stuff that was commonplace on That’s So Raven, which is a nice touch.
Chelsea finds herself getting some much needed screen time in this episode, too. She gets to bond with her son as the two must team up and try to get the stuffed bear she accidentally threw away. Chelsea eventually finds herself dumpster diving and locates the bear, only to have its head fall off. She and Levi decide they’ll head to the amusement park where Devon got the bear in the first place.
Coincidentally (because Raven’s Home loves a good coincidence to tie its story together in the end) Raven and the kids are also there, as Raven confronts her fear of heights and gets on an outlandish ride that takes them ‘airplane high’ before dropping them at 60mph. (Wait…how did they even survive?) Raven’s not going to let them drop though, keeping the family stuck at the very top.
They end up there for forty five minutes, discussing their family problems. Raven tells the kids why she’s been trying so desperately to go outside her comfort zone for them, and they open up and confess that things truly won’t be the same without Devon. It’s a heartfelt moment and very real as far as dialogue goes, which helps balance the episode out. Pretty funny to think that the most realistic conversation in Raven’s Home would take place stuck at the top of an amusement ride with some terribly cheesy green screen effects.
While the amusement park was a good setting for Raven and her kids to work out their problems, it only leads to more problems for Chelsea and Levi, both in the plot and as characters. Chelsea is determined to win the bear from a booth, but Levi notices that the game is rigged and impossible to win. In the end, Levi throws a hard ball at the booth’s operator, and Chelsea steals the bear, and they run away. I’m in no way, shape, or form a politically correct person — and most of the entertainment I love is non-PC, but it’s easy to see that Raven’s Home took it a bit too far here with Levi inciting violence while his mother condones it and furthermore steals before they run away. One of my main concerns with Raven’s Home has been how the show has treated Chelsea, a fan favorite from That’s So Raven, and with this episode the series further does her an injustice.
Problems aside, ‘The Bearer of Dad News’ is a fairly average episode for Raven’s Home. The series may just be getting started, but this episode already finds itself falling in the middle of the line. Its strengths are its good dialogue and focus on family, but the poorly done visual effects, paired with its desire to keep Chelsea as just a punchline, keep it from truly shining.