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That's So Raven

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That's So Raven
That's So Raven.png
GenreTeen sitcom
Created by
Starring
Theme music composerJohn Coda
Opening theme"That's So Raven" by Raven-Symoné, Orlando Brown and Anneliese van der Pol
ComposerJohn Coda
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes100 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Walter Barnett
  • Patty Gary Cox
  • Raven-Symoné
CinematographyAlan Keath Walker
Editors
  • Bill Lowe
  • David Schulman
Running time23 minutes
Production companies
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original networkDisney Channel
Original releaseJanuary 17, 2003 (2003-01-17) –
November 10, 2007 (2007-11-10)
Chronology
Related shows

That's So Raven is an American teen sitcom created by Michael Poryes and Susan Sherman that aired on Disney Channel for four seasons between January 2003 and November 2007. The series centers on Raven Baxter (Raven-Symoné), a teenager with hidden psychic abilities. Episodes show Raven experiencing visions of future events while she must also deal with the social and personal issues of her youth. Raven often misinterprets the events she foresees, and intervenes in order to prevent a vision from coming true or to protect her friends and families. She draws upon her abilities in fashion design to adopt elaborate disguises during these schemes. Raven's secret is shared with her best friends Eddie Thomas (Orlando Brown) and Chelsea Daniels (Anneliese van der Pol), along with her brother Cory (Kyle Massey) and parents Tanya (T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh) and Victor (Rondell Sheridan). The series explores supernatural elements as well as a focus on family, friendship, and adolescence.

The Walt Disney Company created the series as the first multi-camera sitcom for its television network after experiencing success with its earlier single-camera comedy series, such as Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire, the former of which executive producers David Brookwell and Sean McNamara concurrently worked on. Their joint company Brookwell McNamara Entertainment produced That's So Raven, which premiered on January 17, 2003. The series concluded on November 10, 2007 after becoming the network's first program to reach 100 episodes, ending due to the actors aging beyond the teenage demographic of the show. Every season has been distributed through digital download and on the Disney+ streaming service.

That's So Raven enjoyed high viewership in the United States on broadcast television and gave rise to the development of merchandise, soundtrack albums, and video game adaptations. Television critics praised Raven-Symoné for her physical comedy in what was considered her breakthrough role. The series received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Children's Program in 2005 and 2007. A spin-off entitled Cory in the House, starring Massey and Sheridan, also aired on Disney Channel for two seasons from 2007 to 2008. Raven-Symoné, van der Pol, Sheridan and Keymáh reprised their roles for the spin-off Raven's Home, which premiered in 2017.

Premise[edit]

A mid shot of a woman with mid-length brown hair, wearing a black, translucent dress. She is posing at a press event and smiling, looking away from the camera. Behind her is the corner of a brick wall.
Raven-Symoné, pictured in 2010, serves as the program's central focus during its four-season run.

Raven Baxter is a high school student who has a secret psychic ability which allows her to experience visions of future events in short flashes. Often, she finds herself miscalculating the events that she sees which results in trouble for herself as well as her friends and family.[1] Raven keeps her supernatural ability a secret, with only her close friends and family aware. Raven attends school alongside her best friends Chelsea, who is described as "ditzy", is an environmentalist and an artist, and Eddie, who is athletic, on the school basketball team, and an aspiring rapper. Raven lives with her younger brother Cory, an aspiring businessperson, and her parents, Victor and Tanya. Victor initially works as chef in a restaurant, and in the second season, opens his own restaurant called "The Chill Grill". Tanya halted her studies to raise her family, but decided once the children were older to continue studying law; after the third season, she leaves the family to study in England. An aspiring fashion designer, Raven frequently creates her own costumes in order to disguise her identity; she often implements schemes to rectify a situation or fix her own mistake.[2] In the fourth season, the show's format is slightly revised when Raven works as an intern for the famous fashion designer Donna Cabonna.[3][4]

The series explores the fantasy that children may experience of wanting a supernatural power.[5] It shares similarities with series such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and other fantasy television programs in which adolescents experience and learn to deal with miraculous abilities.[2] Disney Channel president Rich Ross stated that Raven's powers aren't "dark", but rather, a metaphorical representation of how the future is unpredictable.[6] The series does not explore how Raven's powers originated or were discovered; however, Raven's grandmother, Vivian, also has psychic powers.[7] Raven often intervenes in order to prevent a vision from coming true, but does not regularly try to control her ability or take advantage of her power. Her visions often represent a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many of the program's stories take place in the high school setting.[2]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In the early 2000s, The Walt Disney Company found success with its pay television network Disney Channel through single-camera comedy series for a preadolescent audience such as Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire.[6] That's So Raven was designed to be another sitcom that would appeal to a family audience, while featuring a female in the role of the comedy lead.[6][8] The series was created by Michael Poryes and Susan Sherman.[1][6] Sherman first conceived the idea of a buddy comedy for a preadolescent audience, and the pair decided to base it around the idea of being able to see the future, which they thought would interest the young viewers.[5] The pair then pitched the concept to network executives under the title The Future is On Me, and later, Absolutely Psychic.[5][2][8] Poryes explained that Raven-Symoné read for the role of the lead as well as the comedic best friend Chelsea during her audition, and that she wanted to play the role of the friend.[5] Subsequently, a pilot was filmed in which she starred as the best friend rather than in the central role, but after the test audience responded well to her and producers were impressed, the program was re-tooled to include her in the main role.[5] Test audiences also responded favourably to the supernatural premise of the show and its comedy.[6] The series was retitled as That's So Raven along with the casting change.[5] Poryes also served as an executive producer alongside David Brookwell and Sean McNamara, who concurrently produced Even Stevens for Disney Channel.[9] Their joint company, Brookwell McNamara Entertainment produced the program in association with the network.[1] That's So Raven became Disney Channel's first multi-camera sitcom.[10] The series centered on an African American family in a deliberate attempt to represent the diversity of the network's audience.[6]

The series was publicly announced in November 2001 with a press release announcing Raven-Symoné's involvement as the titular character Raven. Twenty-one episodes were ordered for the first season, which began filming in Los Angeles, California, in the same month.[1] The series was initially expected to premiere in early 2002, however, the whole first season was filmed before it aired on television.[11] The premiere broadcast of That's So Raven, containing the first four episodes of the series, was in effect aired on Friday, January 17, 2003.[6][12]

Casting[edit]

The program and its primary cast were announced in November 2001; Raven-Symoné was revealed to be portraying the titular character Raven. She had previously worked as a child actor on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show.[1] Raven-Symoné was reported to be Disney's first African American female star,[13] and the first African American woman to have her name in the title of a comedy series.[10] Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club called her role on the show her "most successful phase" and praised her physical comedy.[2] Marsh cited her humour and commitment to comedy as a reason for her success.[14] She is credited as Raven throughout the series.[2]

The supporting cast was also first announced in November 2001.[1] Orlando Brown portrays one of Raven's best friends Eddie, while Anneliese van der Pol plays Chelsea, another of Raven's friends.[2] Tricha Dixon was originally listed in the casting announcement before van der Pol joined the cast.[1] Kyle Massey portrays Raven's younger brother, Cory. Rondell Sheridan portrays Raven's father, Victor.[2]

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh plays Raven's mother, Tanya, for the first three seasons; she departed the program since she had initially expected to only work on three seasons of the show.[11] Keymáh was also unable to continue as she was required to provide full-time care for her ailing grandmother.[11] Within the show's storyline, it is explained that Tanya has travelled to England to pursue higher education.[2]

Guest stars in the series include Jenifer Lewis as Vivian, Raven's grandmother,[7] and Anne-Marie Johnson, who plays famous fashion designer Donna Cabonna in the show's fourth season.[3]

Writing[edit]

Poryes believed that it was important to write the scripts with honesty rather than talking down to the young audience.[5] The writers endeavoured to present meaningful stories to children, including lessons about friendship, but tried not make the messages too "preachy".[5] The series was written with the aim of reflecting life as a typical teenager, while also incorporating comedy, particularly through its central focus on physical humour.[5][6] Van der Pol explained that the actors typically weren't permitted deviate from their scripted lines;[15] however, Ross stated that Raven-Symoné would improvise "comic bits".[6] Alston described the show's nature as "goofy", with a "kid-friendly" comedy style, but also noted its complex stories revolving around "ethical challenges". The episodes did not typically air in the order of their production, due to the lack of serialization in their stories.[2]

Filming and conclusion[edit]

That's So Raven was recorded in front of a live studio audience in a set, on a sound stage in Los Angeles.[5] The first season began filming in November 2001. The series would be filmed over two days each week, while the child actors would also attend school on set.[6] Prior to filming, the weekly schedule would also consist of read-throughs of the script, rewrites and rehearsals.[1] A stunt coordinator was present for Raven-Symoné's slapstick and physical stunts.[6]

The series was renewed for a second season in April 2003.[16] Prior to the renewal, a musical episode of Even Stevens was aired in 2002; the success of the episode among the show's audience led to network executives asking Brookwell and McNamara to also produce a musical episode of That's So Raven.[9] The musical episode of That's So Raven, entitled "The Road to Audition", aired as part of the second season in July 2004.[17] The success of the musical format on both Even Stevens and That's So Raven gave executives confidence in the appeal and interest of the musical genre, and inspired the development of the television film High School Musical.[9]

While it was originally planned that a maximum of three seasons would be produced,[11] That's So Raven was renewed for a fourth season in June 2005, which would consist of 22 episodes and bring the program's total number of episodes to 100.[18][19] The announcement marked the first time an original Disney Channel series would surpass three seasons and the first to reach the milestone of 100 episodes for syndication.[2][19][i] A film adaptation was also ordered to debut in 2007.[19] Ross called the program the network's "most successful series".[19] Production on the season was expected to begin in July, and the episodes would be aired over the following two years.[19] Raven-Symoné became a producer on the series for the fourth season at the age of 19.[19] Her roles included having input towards casting, scripts and special effects; however, she turned down the offer of directing an episode.[8] Brookwell and McNamara departed the series at the end of the third season, with their company being replaced by Warren & Rinsler Productions. The series also filmed an episode which aired as part of a network crossover special. That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana aired in July 2006 as a crossover featuring The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana.[20]

The series finished production in January 2006,[21] and by August, then-president of Disney Channels Worldwide Gary Marsh stated that it was unlikely that any further episodes would be produced.[14] Due to the heavy focus on high school stories depicted in the series, once the characters were beginning to age beyond their teenage years, the network decided to end the show.[2]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
121January 17, 2003 (2003-01-17)March 5, 2004 (2004-03-05)
222October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03)September 24, 2004 (2004-09-24)
335October 1, 2004 (2004-10-01)January 16, 2006 (2006-01-16)
422February 20, 2006 (2006-02-20)November 10, 2007 (2007-11-10)

Reception[edit]

That's So Raven was reported to be the highest-rating original program in the network's history. The success of the program also led to two nominations Primetime Emmy Awards nominations for Outstanding Children's Program, in 2005 and 2007. Alston said the success of That's So Raven led to Disney Channel changing its approach to original programming. He praised the chemistry between Raven-Symoné, Brown and van der Pol and attributed this to their real-life friendships. Alston cited the episodes "A Goat's Tale" and "Out of Control" as the episodes which best represent this dynamic. Raven-Symoné was widely recognised for her charisma and physical comedy in the series; Massey's "knack" for physical comedy was also praised.[2][22]

Jack Seiley from DVDizzy.com said that the series adhered to the format of previous sitcoms on the network such as Lizzie McGuire, but does so with lower quality; he called it their worst show.[23] Aaron Wallace also called the show "weaker" than Lizzie McGuire in a similar DVD review.[22] Seiley criticized the show's concept, and the actors' "over-acting".[23] The structure of the episodes was noted by Wallace for being repetitive and rigid.[4][22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations received by That's So Raven
Award Year Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Category Result Ref.
Artios Awards 2005 Joey Paul Jensen Outstanding Achievement in Casting: Children's Television Series Programming Won [24]
2006 Nominated [25]
BET Awards 2004 Raven-Symoné Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [26]
That's So Raven Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
2005 Raven-Symoné Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [citation needed]
That's So Raven Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards 2003 That's So Raven International Nominated [27]
Genesis Awards 2005 That's So Raven (for "A Goat's Tale") Outstanding Children's Programming Won [28]
2007 That's So Raven (for "Fur Better or Worse") Nominated [29]
Gracie Awards 2004 That's So Raven Outstanding Children/Adolescent Program Won [30]
2005 Raven-Symoné Outstanding Female Lead in a Comedy Won [31]
NAACP Image Awards 2004 Raven-Symoné Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special Won [32]
2005 Won [33][34]
2006 Won [35][36]
Eric Dean Seaton Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Nominated
2007 Kyle Massey Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special Nominated [37]
Raven-Symoné Won
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
That's So Raven Outstanding Children's Program Won
2008 Raven-Symoné Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special Won [38]
That's So Raven Outstanding Children's Program Won
NAMIC Vision Awards 2004 Raven-Symoné Best Comedic Performance Nominated [39]
That's So Raven (for "Dissin' Cousins") Children's Nominated
2005 Raven-Symoné (for "He's Got the Power") Best Comedic Performance Nominated
That's So Raven (for "Road to Audition") Children's Nominated
2006 Raven-Symoné Best Comedic Performance Nominated [40][41]
That's So Raven Best Children's Nominated
2007 Raven-Symoné North Star Award Won [42]
That's So Raven (for "The Four Aces") Best Children's Won[ii]
2008 Raven-Symoné Best Performance – Comedy Nominated [43]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2004 Raven-Symoné Favorite Television Actress Won [44]
2005 Won [45]
2006 Nominated [46]
That's So Raven Favorite Television Show Nominated
2007 Raven-Symoné Favorite Television Actress Nominated [47]
2008 Nominated [48]
Primetime Emmy Awards 2005 That's So Raven Outstanding Children's Program Nominated [49]
2007 That's So Raven Nominated [50]
Teen Choice Awards 2004 Raven-Symoné Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated [citation needed]
That's So Raven Choice TV Show: Comedy Nominated
2005 Raven-Symoné Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated [51]
That's So Raven Choice TV Show: Comedy Nominated
2006 Raven-Symoné Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated [citation needed]
Writers Guild of America Awards 2007 Deborah Swisher (for "Fur Better or Worse") Children's Episodic & Specials Nominated [52]
Young Artist Awards 2004 Kyle Massey Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) – Leading Young Actor Nominated [53]
Raven-Symoné Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) – Leading Young Actress Nominated
2005 Christopher Malpede Best Performance in a Television Series – Guest Starring Young Actor Won [54]
Raven-Symoné, Orlando Brown, Kyle Massey and Anneliese van der Pol Outstanding Young Performers in a TV Series Won
Raven-Symoné Michael Landon Award – Contribution to Youth Through Television Won
2006 That's So Raven Best Family Television Series (Comedy) Nominated [55]
2007 Kyle Massey Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) – Leading Young Actor Won [56]

Other media[edit]

Merchandising[edit]

That's So Raven became a successful merchandising franchise over the duration of its run, with items including a novel series, dolls, board games, lunch boxes, jewellery, a fragrance and a clothing line.[8] A line of video games was also developed;[2] two were released on the Game Boy Advance, while That's So Raven: Psychic on the Scene was released on the Nintendo DS on November 2, 2006.[57] Two soundtrack albums were released; That's So Raven (2004) and That's So Raven Too! (2006), featuring recordings by some of the program's actors as well as other guest performers.[58][59] By 2006, the merchandise based on the series had grossed over $400 million.[60]

Spin-offs and adaptations[edit]

A film adaptation of That's So Raven was ordered by Disney in 2005 alongside the program's fourth season renewal, which was planned for a 2007 release.[19] van der Pol explained in 2010 that a script for the film had been written, but that Raven-Symoné was too busy to be involved at the time of development.[15] The plot would have depicted Raven starting a fashion line in France alongside Eddie and Chelsea.[15] The film did not enter production.[15]

A spin-off series entitled Cory in the House was ordered by the network in May 2006, starring Massey and Sheridan; this was the first time Disney Channel had developed a spin-off of an original series.[14][61] The series depicts Cory and Victor moving to Washington, D.C. to live in the White House, where Victor begins work as the personal chef of a fictional president of the United States.[61] The series aired for two seasons from 2007 to 2008.[61] A further spin-off entitled Raven's Home was first reported in October 2016; Raven-Symoné and van der Pol were both revealed to be reprising their roles as Raven and Chelsea respectively.[10][21][62] The series follows Raven as a divorced mother of her two children, Booker, who has inherited her psychic abilities, and Nia.[10][62] Chelsea, also a divorced mother, moves in with Raven to raise her son, Levi.[62] Raven-Symoné serves as an executive producer on the series, which premiered on July 21, 2017.[63] Sheridan was featured as a guest and returned as a series regular for the program's fifth season; Keymáh will also guest star in the fifth season finale.[64][65] An Indian adaptation of the series, titled Palak Pe Jhalak, premiered on Disney Channel in India in September 2015. The series incorporated Indian culture and languages.[66]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ By August 2006, there were no plans to syndicate the show.[14]
  2. ^ Also awarded to Lisa Knight and the Round Table.

Citations

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Alston, Joshua (May 16, 2016). "That's So Raven changed Disney Channel in ways no one could have predicted". The A.V. Club. G/O Media. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Anne-Marie Johnson has signed on to Disney Channel's live-action hit That's So Raven. She'll play the recurring role of a diva-like fashion designer Donna Cabonna, who offers Raven an internship". The Hollywood Reporter. Vol. 390, no. 21. Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group. August 10, 2005.
  4. ^ a b Wallace, Aaron (July 30, 2006). "That's So Raven: Makeover Madness DVD Review". DVDizzy.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Scott Mason, Marilynne (September 27, 2005). "Two TV shows from script to screen". The Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Publishing Society. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
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  7. ^ a b Writer: Carla Banks Waddles (March 5, 2004). "To See or Not to See". That's So Raven. Season 1. Episode 21. Disney Channel.
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  13. ^ Bell 2015, p. 56.
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  17. ^ Writers: Beth Seriff & Geoff Tarson (July 30, 2004). "The Road to Audition". That's So Raven. Season 2. Episode 18. Disney Channel.
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  23. ^ a b Seiley, Jack (December 10, 2004). "That's So Raven: Supernaturally Stylish DVD Review". DVDizzy.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
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