As a father of seven children between the ages of 19 and 3, I feel as though I am as qualified to approach the subject of children’s television programming as any parent anywhere. I mean really, for the past two decades, I’ve seen just about every Disney animated production – and numerous other youth vehicles – to ever hit the market.
For the past few years, I have admittedly become a huge fan of the most successful Disney original production of all-time, That’s So Raven, mainly because of my now 15-year-old son, Eric Jr. and nine-year-old daughter, Tia, whom have both been watching the show since its inception.
Having said that, I can say from firsthand knowledge, that, That’s So Raven, which is the first Disney series to run for at least 100 shows, is as fine a youth-oriented production as I’ve ever seen. The show’s plot features an outgoing teenager named Raven Baxter, who schemes to get herself, her friends, or family members, out of one wacky situation after another, usually by using her psychic powers and her penchant for disguises.
Each episode is vastly different as Raven and some of the show’s other characters deal with numerous situations, some absolutely hysterical, while others may have a deeper meaning behind all the laughs.
Of course, Raven is the primary character and I have to admit that former child actor, Raven Symone, who has literally grown up before our very eyes, has been nothing short of masterful in her role as Baxter. In addition to Raven’s adventures, the episodes also focus on whatever visions she experiences, which usually involve whatever Raven is thinking about at that particular point in time. After the visions occur, Raven tries her best to either make them come true or make them not happen at all, which, has provided for some of the best hilarious television moments I’ve ever seen.
For the show’s fourth season this year, Symoné became one of the show’s producers and helped out more on the creative ideas on the show. This season, her character, an aspiring fashion designer, achieves the dream of a lifetime when she begins working for fictional fashion designer Donna Cabonna (played by Anne-Marie Johnson of JAG and In Living Color fame). Production of the fourth season began in 2005, and ended in early 2006.
That’s So Raven started its fourth season on President’s Day (February 20) with the episode Raven, Sydney, And The Man. Production was switched to the newly made That’s So Productions and the show averaged 4.5 million viewers. In 2005, the show was nominated for an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Children’s Series”. Although Nick News ended up winning the award, That’s So Raven remains one of the best youth-oriented television shows of all-time.
Through the eyes of my daughter Tia, this is how she sees the show.
“That’s So Raven is an awesome show. I like it because it is very funny and can also be very touching. My two favorite characters are Raven and Chelsea because they always get themselves into these crazy situations and then seem to get out of them. The show teaches you about friendship, honor, trust, and respecting your parents. I like Raven and Chelsea because all three of us are alike. Like Chelsea, I love animals and would never want to hurt any of them.
Like Raven, I like to design my own clothes. More kids should watch That’s So Raven because it teaches you a lot of things and it’s just a great show.”
The show is aired in the UK on the British-version of the Disney Channel, CITV, and also on the Family Channel. Here is a short description of each regular character on the show.
Raven Baxter (played by Raven-Symoné)
Raven Lydia Baxter is the main character of the series. Raven is a teenage girl who possesses psychic powers to see into the future. Her best friends are Edward “Eddie” Thomas and Chelsea Daniels. Raven has one sibling, Cory. In the show, Raven’s psychic powers allow her to catch a glimpse of the future.
This is characterized by her going into a blank stare, and the TV audience sees the vision. She has no real control over the visions, but the visions usually involve whatever she’s thinking about at the moment she gets a vision.
Raven learned that her Grandma Viv (Jennifer Lewis) is also a psychic, but her own mother is not, meaning that the psychic power skipped a generation. In addition to being an aspiring fashion designer, she is also a master of disguise, a skill that comes in handy mainly because of the trouble her visions can cause.
Eddie Thomas (played by Orlando Brown)
Eddie Thomas is the male best friend of Raven and Chelsea. He is an aspiring rapper and is a member of the school’s basketball team. He spent a day as a furniture salesman and sold the Baxter’s furniture for some new Italian furniture. He also has a club at the community school to teach the children to rap. He has had one girlfriend, Chantel (Drew Sidora) and also unexpectedly had a relationship with Loca. He has been seen to give Raven’s younger brother, Cory, bad advice.
Chelsea Daniels (played by Anneliese van der Pol)
Chelsea Daniels is Raven’s and Eddie’s best friend. She is known to be a vegetarian and an environmentalist. She works at the community dog daycare. Most of the time her character is portrayed as dimwitted and then stuns her friends with something they never thought she could do.
She is an experienced bull rider and ping-pong player. She also ran for class president against Ben Sturky. She has had quite a few boyfriends during the series including Jake (Ricky Ullman) as seen in On Top of Old Oakey, Sam (Mike Erwin) in A Dog By Any Other Name, and Ben in Double Vision. She is also a pet lover and does not like to harm animals.
Cory Baxter (played by Kyle Massey)
Cory is the only sibling of Raven Baxter. His best friends are Larry (David Henrie) and William (Frankie Ryan Manriquez). During his 13th birthday he had a “Bro-Mitzvah” in order to get money but later donated that money to the community center. He also happens to be very wealthy and is usually picking on Raven. He also had a crush on Chelsea Daniels early in the show. In seasons three and four he had a girlfriend Cindy (Jordyn Coleman).
Victor Baxter (played by Rondell Sheridan)
Victor Baxter is the father of Raven and Cory Baxter. His profession is a chef. He appeared on local television cooking and on national television in “Captain Cook-off’s Kitchen Challenge”. In season two, he became the owner of a restaurant called The Chill Grill and a mobile spin-off, “The Chill Grill on Wheels”. He also had directed a commercial for the Chill Grill starring Eddie and Chelsea.
Tanya Baxter (played by T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh)
Tanya Baxter is the mother of Raven and Cory Baxter. Her previous jobs include being an English teacher; in season one she was appeared as a housewife, and in one episode she became a substitute teacher at Bayside High School (the fictional school in which Raven, Eddie, Chelsea and Cory attend). In season two, she became hostess at her husband Victor’s restaurant, The Chill Grill. In season three, Tanya decided to attend law school. Keymáh quit the show at the end of season three and her character was written out (it was said that Tanya had travelled to Britain to study law).