Thursday, October 11, 2007

Return to The Boondocks

Here in California, ESPN's Pardon the Interruption airs when most of the West Coast is still at work. This is actually a good thing, since the DVR saves every episode of PTI and I can fast forward right past segments entitled "Tiger", "Pats" and "NBA".

So, imagine my surprise on Tuesday evening - as I was preparing to get Michael Wilbon's and Tony Kornheiser's take on that bat-sh*t insane Monday Night Football game – to find that the DVR captured the season two premiere of The Boondocks on Adult Swim. It's been over 18 months since I originally afforded Aaron(!) McGruder's comic-strip series the coveted "record entire series" status and, quite frankly, I'd forgotten all about it.

How does Adult Swim not advertise the new season? Between me and the wife, we have subscriptions to four or five African-American themed magazines and none of them even mentioned this. Not even Ebony, which still runs an annual "baseball preview" made up solely of media mug shots of each team's Black player (singular, remember it's baseball).

For the uninitiated, The Boondocks is about two young boys (Huey & Riley Freeman) sent to live with their grandfather out in the lily white suburbs. Huey, 10, is the thoughtful militant, Riley, 8, is the gangsta-rap influenced voice and their granddad, voiced by John Witherspoon, is a lot like every character Witherspoon has ever played.

The first season was entertaining, if a little uneven, as several episodes sounded strong on their premise (sample titles: "Let's Nab Oprah", "The Trial of R. Kelly") but failed to deliver on any sort of satirical knockout blow. Even if you didn't see it, you might remember the infamous "Martin Luther King" episode on the receiving end of some Sharpton/Jackson condemnation. Still, even that take on MLK Y2K wasn't all it could've been.

Our season two premiere is entitled "…or Die Trying" and revolves around the family sneaking into the movies. The episode works mostly because of the over-the-top exploitation of the "Black Movie Theater Experience". Granddad sneaks in a sumptuous dinner, Riley mans the camcorder and everyone laughs uproariously at "Soul Plane 2: The Blackjacking!"

Speaking of which, Snoop Dogg and Mo'Nique appear in cameos that brilliantly skewer their buffoonish work in the original "Soul Plane". Seriously, did they not know that these voice-overs were essentially a self-referential insult? If so, they're a pair of crazy good sports. Oh, and the guest spot by "50 Cent" was equally awesome, right down to his mush mouth delivery and one-trick gimmick.

Welcome back, Boondocks.

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