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MSRP: $49.95
RUNNING TIME: 323 min.
• Audio & Video Commentaries by Aaron McGruder and the Boondocks Crew
• Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Animatics
• Unaired TV Promos
• Printable Storyboards

The Pitch

Peanuts meets The Jeffersons meets Urusei Yatsura meets Adult Swim.

The Humans

Regina King, John Witherspoon, Cedric Yarborough, Gary Anthony Williams, Jill Talley

The Nutshell

10-year-old Huey and his 8-year-old brother Riley come to live with their grandfather, transplanting from Chicago to the sleepy suburb of Woodcrest. Huey is a self-styled black revolutionary, Riley a wannabe thug. Their predominantly white neighbors just think they’re cute.

The early reviews for Snakes on a Plane roll in.

Rounding out the cast: Granddad himself, seen-it-all survivor; Tom DuBois, tragically over-assimilated black lawyer; his confused biracial daughter Jazmine; Ed Wuncler, local white tycoon and jovial oppressor; idiot wigger Junior Wuncler and his bad-influence buddy Rummy; and Uncle Ruckus, a man whose self-loathing is so complete he refuses to identify as black at all.

Eyes on the prize, my man. Eyes on the prize.

The Lowdown

From the very first scene, it’s clear that this is a show that intends to take full advantage of late-night cable standards. No panel-for-panel translations of the weekday strips here; no watered-down profanity (one of the episodes deploys the ‘N’ word sixty-five times) and no pixilated nudity. Unless it’s funnier that way: one of creator Aaron McGruder’s pet peeves is black celebrities getting arrested for doing stupid things, and he goes after R. Kelly in episode 2.

Explicit content aside, the big stylistic surprise for fans of the comic is the influence of Asian pop-culture on the show. Huey and Riley have big glossy Anime eyes and repeatedly engage in elaborate, well-animated kung-fu sequences and John Woo-style (pellet)gunfights. Oddly, for a series so preoccupied with cultural identity, this aspect is taken for granted and never commented on.

"My Elephantitis Fist will destroy your Hamster Style!"

As much as the visual scope has expanded, this is a dialogue-dependent show that lives on the strength of its voice cast. Justice League veteran Andrea Romano (who participates on the commentary tracks) must have the most coveted Rolodex in the voice-over biz: several big names pop up (including at least one bona fide star), but I’ll let you recognize them for yourselves.

I’m on the fence as to Regina King’s dual performance as Huey and Riley. She does a good job distinguishing the two brothers, but I don’t think they (particularly Huey) ever sound sullen enough. Also, unlike, say, Nancy Cartwright’s Bart Simpson, it’s frequently clear that the voices are that of a grown woman.

Of all the characters, Jazmine makes the most successful strip-to-screen transition. Credit this to voice-actress Gabby Soleil, who captures the role’s earnest innocence, and to the fact that in true Peanuts fashion an actual kid was cast in the part.

"When I asked if you had any grass, this isn’t what I had in mind."

Best eps: “The Trial of Robert Kelly”, which surely deserves a Trapped In The Closet sequel for Season Two; “Granddad’s Fight”; the audacious “Return of the King”, in which Martin Luther King, Jr. awakes from a 32-year coma only to encounter such examples of uplift as BET and Soul Plane; “The Block Is Hot”, a showcase for Jazmine and a reminder that Huey can be a royal pain in the ass; and the unexpectedly powerful season finale, “The Passion of Reverend Ruckus”. Duds include “The Real” and “Let’s Nab Oprah”, though the latter has some good fights.

Nerd? Numbskull? Nabob?

The Package

Fifteen episodes, five to a disc, with a play-all option. Handsome full-bleed 16:9 anamorphic. Supplements start strong but burn off fast: Disc One is loaded (picture-in-picture commentaries, animatics, deleted scenes, and a brief documentary), but Disc Two just has audio commentaries. Disc 3? Zilch. I’m assuming there were deadline issues getting the set out, because the show really hits its stride in the last couple of episodes and some insight would have been nice.

If you listen to only one commentary, make it Williams’ solo track on “Granddad’s Fight”. In-character tracks rarely work, but Uncle Ruckus is a force of evil nature and his advice on dressing for battle is unforgettable.

Sorry, no caption here. Everything Uncle Ruckus says is filthier and more inappropriate
than anything I can come up with.

7 out of 10