STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
MSRP: $16.99
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
• Commentary on episodes “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” “The Hunger Strike,” “The Unlce Ruckus Reality Show” and “The Story of Gangstalicious, Part 2″ with Aaron McGruder, producer Carl Jones and co-executive producer Rodney Barnes
Behind the Boondocks featurette
Trouble in Woodcrest? Featurette
What Niggas? Featurette
• Cast Breakdowns and Interviews with John Witherspoon, Cedriv Yarbrough, Regina King, Gary Anthony Williams, Gabby Soleil and Jill Talley
• Minisodes

The Pitch

Them niggas is crazy, yo.

The Humans

Huey Freeman – Regina King
Riley Freeman – Regina King
Robert “Granddad” Freeman – John Witherspoon
Uncle Ruckus – Gary Anthony Williams
Tom Dubois – Cedric Yarbrough
Sarah Dubois – Jill Talley
Jazmine Dubois – Gabby Soleil

“Yo, Granddad…this Fat Albert is some bullshit.  Why them niggas so happy all the time?  Don’t they know they poor and shit?”

The Nutshell

The Freeman family, ten-year-old Huey, his eight-year-old brother, Riley, and their grandfather, “Granddad” Robert, who is the boys’ legal guardian, have relocated to the fictional suburb of Woodcrest from the South Side of Chicago.  There they live a life that is rarely boring, whether it be from the machinations and adventures of Huey, who is an intellectual martial artist, Riley, who is addicted to the gangsta rap lifestyle, or Robert, who tries to live the quiet life but frequently finds himself unable to do so.  The Freemans find themselves mixed up in everything from warring with their new gangsta rapper neighbor, Thugnificent, to sneaking into a theatre to see Soul Plane 2: The Black Jacking, to dealing with a beautiful but psycho date Robert met online who has a proclivity for deadly martial arts, wolves and stalking. 

“Okay Granddad, so you wanted to know which one makes you look the most like an androgynous, Jesus Juice-drinking, boy-obsessed creep…?”

The Lowdown

Boondocks is a trip, without a doubt.  It’s a raucous and acerbic commentary on American – especially Black American – culture that uses foul language, an animation style heavily inspired by Anime, and sharply-written characters to take on the status quo.  Boondocks is the product of satirist Aaron McGruder, who has taken his comic strip characters and brought them to full life in a hip and oftentimes hilarious cartoon that isn’t afraid to call out Black institutions, be they celebrities like Bill Cosby, rap and rappers, and particularly BET, and hold their feet to the fire in an effort to comment on the state of Black culture and the issues that continue to exist today.

“A Pimp Named Slickback, An Uncle Tom Actually Named Tom.  An Uncle Tom Actually Named Tom, A Pimp Named Slickback…”
“What up, player?”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance…”

McGruder uses his three main characters to establish several points of view in order to do the show’s commentary.  Robert provides the view of the older generation, who are frequently out of touch and shocked with the youth of today, but are also capable of showing that they’re as messed up as any kid.  Huey is the “straight man” and the saner, more sensible half of the younger generation, usually narrating the goings-on of the episode and it’s frequently through his eyes that we see the story unfold.  Meanwhile, Riley is the flipside of the coin: wild, foul-mouthed, and worshiping the gangsta / rap music video / ballin’ lifestyle and all the historically bad things that go along with it.  Riley and Huey are frequently at war with each other, kicking each other’s asses as they just don’t see eye to eye on almost anything.  They quite often drive Robert to the brink of madness; but when the chips are down, the Freemans have each other’s backs.

“Oh, Usher, I’d totally be okay if you treated me like Chilli…”

The supporting cast also have their charms.  Uncle Ruckus is an overweight, lazy-eyed black man who “hates niggas” as he puts it.  Every other word out of his mouth is “nigga this” and “nigga that” and the only thing he enjoys more than denigrating black people is denying that he himself is exactly what he hates.  He’s frequently a source of tension to the Freemans, particularly the boys, whom he sees as just the next generation of niggas and little more. Tom Dubois is the educated, yet painfully unhip lawyer who’s lack of “Blackness” is frequently a source of jokes by the Freemans and everyone else in the cast. His wife, Sarah, is white and has a quite unhealthy crush on Usher, which at one time threatens their marriage and sends Tom off on a soul searching music video head trip set to Usher’s “Let It Burn.”  His daughter, Jazmine, is bi-racial and easily influenced by the Freemans and prone to crying her eyes out when she steals a movie in the theatre.  

“Them niggas over on Naruto talkin’ shit?  They gonna get some hot lead up they ass.”
“Them some dead spikey-haired niggas, for sho…”

Boondocks is also littered with celebrity guest stars, including Katt Williams as A Pimp Named Slickback, the sage ho-master, Mos Def as Gangstalicious, the closeted gay rapper who inspires brothers to dress and act gay without being aware of it.  Carl Jones portrays Thugnificent, a supremely narcissistic rapper who’s the Freemans’ neighbor.  His crew includes Snoop Dogg as Macktastic and Busta Rhymes as Flonominal.  And what show but Boondocks could get Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Murphy as Gin Rummy and Ed Wuncler III, the two blackest white guy criminal malcontents on TV.  Other guest stars include Mo’Nique, Ed Asner, Ghostface Killah, MTV’s Sway, XZibit, Bill Duke, Fat Man Scoop, Nate Dogg, Aisha Tyler, Tichina Arnold, Cedric The Entertainer, Lil Wayne. Cee-Lo, Fred Willard and Donald Faison.

“…and you know what movie was total bullshit?  Daredevil.  A black Kingpin?  Man, that casting against race shit just pisses me right the fuck off…”

Season 2 featured such episodes as “…Or Die Trying” which has the Freemans and Jazmine sneaking into the theatre to see the Soul Plane 2: The Black Jacking.  Once there, they have to not only keep out of sight of Ruckus, who is determined to bust them, but also placate Jazmine, who’s having a major guilt attack for stealing a movie, even a stereotypically bad Black movie. “Thank You For Not Snitching” found Riley figuratively sticking to his guns when he sees who stole Robert’s car, Gin and Ed, but observing the gangsta mantra of not snitching on them no matter what.  Of course the tables are turned when they steal his bike as well.  “Attack of the Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch” (the best title of the season by the way), has the Freemans trying to escape with their lives when one of Robert’s online dates turns out to be a hot but completely psycho chick who is a master in the deadliest martial arts, was raised by wolves, and develops an entirely unhealthy – and homicidally suicidal – fixation on Robert.

“Stinkmeaner Strikes Back” has the old bastard escaping from Hell and possessing Tom in order to exact revenge on the Freemans for killing him.  The normally easy-going Tom finds himself frequently caught up in a “nigga moment” when Stinkmeaner rises up within him and turns him into a homicidal lunatic nigga.  “Shinin'” centers on Riley joining Thugnificent’s crew and then having to get back his chain from the biggest bully in town.  “Ballin'” then finds Riley joining Tom’s youth basketball team and finding that in reality his ballin’ skills aren’t quite up to what they are in his own mind.  And “Invasion of the Katrinians” has the Freemans meeting their New Orleans kin who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and who move in and take over their house with their extreme country ghettoness. 

The highlight of this Season 2 box set has to be the two banned episodes that feature McGruder’s swipe at that most evil of Black institutions – BET, Black Evil Television.  “The Hunger Strike” has Huey going on a hunger strike to protest the evilness of BET for continually showing programs that demean and destroy Black culture.  BET is run by corrupt and “Dr. Evil-ish” bitch named Deborah Leevil.  Her sole purpose is to fulfill the station’s mantra of destroying Black people.  If Huey’s plight wasn’t bad enough, he is beset by Rev. Rollo Goodlove, a publicity whore preacher with a penchant for colored wigs and round-the-clock snacking.  And “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show” has BET filming Uncle Ruckus as he goes through his daily activities, including working his 32 jobs and endlessly harping on Black people.  However, when he has a DNA test and finds out that he’s 102% Black, that could have the makings for a ratings killer as he goes into a fit of depression.  McGruder introduces both episodes personally and touches upon why they’ve been banned in the U.S. thanks to the threat of litigation from BET if they should ever air. 

“Goddamn! When the fuck is Black Vulcan ever gonna put some pants on?”

Boondocks is an very well-written, infamous and hilarious satire on the state of Black culture in America.  The Anime-influenced animation is rich in depth and detail and the plethora of guest stars and music the show features makes for a highly enjoyable watch.  Props have to be given to McGruder himself, who either writes or co-writes every episode of the season.  His imprint on the show is unmistakable and it’s one of the best culture-skewering cartoons I’ve ever seen. 

The Package

As I said, the animation for this show is great.  The Anime influences are clearly visible and with the shading used on the characters, this feels almost like a 3-D cartoon.  The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, which adds an even more cinematic feel to the show.  The sound is also good in Dolby Digital.  Unfortunately, there’s no subtitles, which is going to prevent deaf people from hearing nigga every other word.  There’s commentary on four episodes “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” “The Hunger Strike,”
“The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show” and “The Story of Gangstalicious, Part
2″ with Aaron McGruder, producer Carl Jones and co-executive producer
Rodney Barnes.  It’s really good to get their take on the two banned episodes.  There’s a 16-minute behind-the-scenes featurette,
Behind the BoondocksTrouble in Woodcrest? is a four-minute good-natured dis riff between cast mates Gary Anthony Williams and Cedric Yarbrough in the recording booth.  What Niggas? is 60 seconds of everybody and their grandmother in the cast saying “nigga.”  There are also cast breakdowns and interviews with John Witherspoon, Cedric Yarbrough,
Regina King, Gary Anthony Williams, Gabby Soleil and Jill Talley.  Minisodes round out the offerings.  This is a solid box set.

“See, young nigga, you ’bout to be taken out like that fool, Jim Kelly.”
“Man, you come right out of a comic book.”
“Comic strip actually…”

8.3 out of 10