I am the stone that the builder refused
I am the visual,
that made lady sing the blues
I'm the spark that makes your idea bright
the same spark
that lights the dark
so that you can know your left from your right
I am the ballot in your box
the bullet in the gun
that inner glow
that lets you know
to call your brother "son"
The story that just begun
the promise of what's to come
and imma remain a soldier
til' the war is won (won)
chop chop chop
Hopefully, by just reading these lyrics you can hear the music in your head and you’ve already started bobbing your head /pumping your fist. This would mean I don’t need to explain to you what The Boondocks is and you’ve already watched season one.
…If not *sigh*…uh, for the sake of time let’s just say it’s “the black South Park”. Rather, it is to South Park what the movie FRIDAY is to CLERKS. Okay? Good.
Much like South Park (and Deadwood, too), The Boondocks pushed the envelope on vulgarity and controversy but with a relevant social statement Trojan horsed inside. The second season of The Boondocks picks up right with the same edgy, racially-charged humor and messages of bitter truth that made the first season so popular. Of course of all the main cast returns with a lot more celebrity guest-stars and a whole lot more Kung Fu! This 3 DVD boxed-set includes the 13 episodes that aired on Cartoon Network’s ‘Adult Swim’ and two episodes that were banned in the U.S. (but not Canada…or YouTube), as well as obligatory bonus features.
Season two opens up strong with the episode “Or Die Trying”- To be cheap, Grandad Sneaks Huey, Riley and Jazmine into a movie theater to see “SOUL PLANE 2- featuring air marshall 50 Cent”. This parody is hilarious and brings back original actors from the real Soul Plane movie (Mo’Nique, Snoop Dogg, Gary Anthony Williams)- to reprise their roles. Special kudos to whoever did the mumbling, spot-on imitation of 50 Cent.
Episode 2- “Tom, Sarah and Usher” kinda goes nowhere but is saved by my favorite breakout out character ‘A Pimp Named Slickback’ (Katt Williams)
“Has NOT hittin’ the bitch worked for you, Tom?”
Episode 5- “The Story of Thugnificent” is indicative of many of the second season’s episodes. It’s got an imaginative opening narrative- a ‘VH-1 Behind the Music’-style documentary on the life of Thugfnificent; a great hook- Thugnificent drops a diss track about Grandad; and a criticism on the stupidity of worshiping gangsta rappers and how much it would suck to have one move into your neighborhood.
But in the third act it falls apart when Huey, the conscience of the show, switches his attitude to “Why don’t you just talk them and get to know them, (which we never see him do), they’re just regular guys (which there’s also no evidence of). It’s the kind of mixed message that comes of having a great idea but not knowing where to go with it, yet still wanting to surprise the audience.
Episode 6- “The Hunger Strike” was the first of the two banned episodes. Huey goes on a hunger strike to protest B.E.T. (*ahem*…one of our proud sponsors), which is shown to be a truly EVIL empire bent on the total destruction of the black race. It sounds like a funny idea, but even with Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkely as the voice of an Al Sharpton-ish character, the message is SO heavy-handed that it’s just not all that funny after awhile.
Episode 7 –“Attack of the Killer Kung –Fu Wolf-Bitch” has Aisha Tyler as the titular wolf-bitch: A fatal attraction date for Granddad. This is one of funniest episodes on the disk. No big message and a somewhat disturbing ending.
Episode 10- “Invasion of the Katrinians” where Granddad takes in his New Orleans relatives (headed by Cedic the Entertainer) is the absolute FUNNIEST episode of The Boondocks next to the Martin Luther King episode (one of the greatest single TV shows of all time) from the first season. I watched this one three times in a row and laughed just as hard each time.
Episode 10- “The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show” is the other banned episode, which is essentially a sequel to “The Hunger Strike”. Uncle Ruckus has quickly gone from the most hated character on the show to arguably the most popular. The idea of a whole show based around him seems like a no-brainer homerun…and yet, this episode felt forced and not all that funny.
Episode 13- In “The S-Word” Granddad wants to sue because a teacher calls Riley the “N” word. It’s a decent episode in it’s own right that’s completely stolen by Fred Willard, who finds nearly 20 ways to say “Nigger”.
Episode 15- “The Story of Gangastalicious, Part 2” is a strong finisher to the set. Besides bringing back Mos Def as the closeted gay rapper, there’s strong guest appearances from Thugnificent and A Pimp named Slick Back.
I’m not a big fan of DVD extras to begin with because most of them are half- thought out or redundant. The extras on this box set only strengthen my point:
Audio Commentaries: There are only three commentary tracks and they’re for what I consider to be the weakest episodes. For the first one, “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back”, creator Aaron McGruder and two other animators sit in a room and admit right off the bat that they have nothing to say about the episode and are only in the recording studio because a man in a suit is forcing them to be. In fact, it’s pretty much all they talk about the whole time. They promise to do better on the next one, “The Hunger Strike”, but they barely fulfill that promise. You do learn that the reason the two episode were banned was because B.E.T. actually found out about the episodes before they aired and their lawyers got Cartoon Network to fold like a metal chair. What’s most surprising is that McGruder and crew were surprised that this happened.
Behind The Boondocks: The kind of “making of” you buy DVDs for, but this is all too short and barely scratches the surface. Although, it was interesting to see that they shooting video of themselves acting out certain sequences like “ghost riding the whip” for the Korean animators who have no clue as to what that is.
“Trouble in Woodcrest”: A playful feature about the made up rivalry between to of the shows cast members, Cedric Yarbrough and Gary Anthony Williams. It’s kinda cute but a complete waste of time.
The Cast: This is the set’s best feature as it focuses on all the actors, showing them recording in the studio. The only bad thing about it is how often they mention that they “get paid nothing”. I couldn’t tell if they meant “so little as to be next to nothing” or that they do it for FREE.
Minisodes: This is a real WTF? as it’s a collection of random shows that have nothing to do with The Boondocks…like an episode of the MTV Spiderman cartoon (???)
All in all this set is even more miss than hit compared to the first season. Still, none of the episodes are “bad”, and those that are “great” far outweigh those that are “meh”.