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Cartoon Review #001 – The Boondocks (Seasons 1 – 3)

Published June 2, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

The.Boondocks.S03E02.Bitches.to.Rags.720p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264.mkv_snapshot_00.30_[2017.05.27_20.09.28]Review:

Series Overview

If you are not familiar with The Boondocks, I honestly do not know how you managed to find this blog.  The Boondocks is the story of a grandfather, Robert Freeman, his two grandsons, Huey and Riley, and their relocation from Chicago to the upper-class suburb of Woodcrest (“real-life location” debated to be a suburb of Chicago, a suburb of Washington D.C. in Maryland, or a suburb of Atlanta).  The series moves between the everyday shenanigans of the family, general social commentary, and direct deconstructions or parodies of real-life events and personalities.  The series features a list of famous guest-stars as well, including: Samuel L. Jackson, Charlie Murphy, Sway, Xzibit, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, DJ Pooh, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Katt Williams, and Cee-Lo Green.  The recurring residents of Woodcrest are all well developed, and all accent the Freemans’ quirks while adding to the issues addressed each episode.

Season 1

I feel that the first season was very well written.  Viewing the first season will give you a clear, whole view the personalities of the main cast, and the following seasons build upon that work.  The first season of The Boondocks feels more solid writing-wise than the other two seasons.

It spends a many of its episodes focusing on broad social issues that have taken hold in the western world, especially the United States, dealing with racial self-hatred, the idolization of the upper class and belief that their fame places them above the law, the bastardization of the images of historical political movements and figures, and the greed of corporate America and its subjugation of its workers.  A few years ago, I was able to watch a few episodes with a friend who had grown up in a different social enviornment than me . . . that was a treat; Explaining to someone what “the itis” is and giving them a general overview of how the Reagan adminstration purposefully attacked poorer America, especially the black community, was something that I did not thing I would ever have to do because of a cartoon.

If anyone ever needs “something shorter to watch, not really looking to invest in a long series right now,” then recommend them the first season of The Boondocks, regardless of whether or not they have seen it.  This season is the most “contained” season, as far as the first episode “feeling like the first episode of a season,” and the last episode “feeling like the last episode of a season.”

Season 2

The second season took somewhat of a step back from regularly addressing larger social issues to focus more on general Freeman family shenanigans, address some more specific stereotypes of black America, and take two heavy shots at BET (who threatened Sony with legal litigation if the episodes were aired in the United States).

In addition to wrapping up the story of Gangstalicious, a side-character from the first season, this season introduces Thugnificent, another hip-hop artist, and chronicles his experience interacting with Robert as well as the effects his presence has on Riley.

This season may be better than the first in terms of animation quality, but it fall short in terms of being consistenly good.  Some of the episodes, such as “Stinkmeaner Strikes Back,” are just as enteraining as many of the episodes from the first season.  However, some episodes, such as “Ballin'” and “Shinin’,” fall a bit flat.  None of the episodes are bad by any means, but some seem to just slog along too far.

Season 3

This season was made two years after the second, and the first episode addressed the biggest change made during that time in America. The President of the United States was Barack Obama. That aside, the series received an animation-quality boost. The third season features multiple parodies, one focusing on Tyler Perry, an ode to Samurai Champloo, the fall of Thugnificent, and the long-awaited backstory for Uncle Ruckus, arguably the most prominent side-character.

It was not until my most recent rewatch of the series that I saw the episode “The Story of Jimmy Rebel.”  I do not know how I managed to skip it in previous sessions, but seeing it made me realize something: The third season gives Uncle Ruckus’ life more focus, and that is something that I wish had continued in a fourth season different from the one we got.

The last episode of the season definitely has a “last episode” vibe to it, which is fitting.  It does not close the series, it is not “game-changing,” but it does close the light narrative started in the season’s first episode.

As far as entertainment-consistency goes, the third season falls in between the first two seasons, as it has fewer “flat” moments than the second season, but enough “dropped” moments to place it at a close second to the first season.

Overall

The Boondocks is the peak of western adult animation.  Family GuyAmerican DadThe Simpsons, etc. . . claim to be, at least somewhat, representative of the life of an American family.  However, I’d say that The Boondocks blows them all out of the water in that regard.  The Freemans are relatable, their struggles recognizable, and themselves real.  The parodies, satire, direct jabs, and full-on discussions in The Boondocks about the social issues our society face are on a completely different level than any other western cartoon, all while keeping the characters as real as possible with some overdramatization for flavor.  The comedy is organic; the jokes do not take forever to set-up or require elaborate out-of-place props or insane stories to preface the punchline.

Maybe what makes the characters so relatable is that every last one of them is recognizable.  All of the celebrity character reminds you of someone, albeit most of them are intentional parodies of celebrities already.  The other characters all remind you of someone in some part of your life. You can take any character in The Boondocks and find some counterpart in your life for most if not all of that character’s traits.

I strongly recommend watching this to anyone.  It is the perfect mix of comedy, drama, social commentary, and general fun.  The series does date itself a tad, though not enough for it to become jarring.  Some people may find it uncomfortable to watch for various reasons, but I have found that the biggest thing to remedy that is reminding them to view it in context of who the Freeman family is and what their situation is.  If you can neither relate nor understand that, you’re up crick.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 10/10
  • Animation:
    • Season 1: 8/10 – Solid animation, nothing clunky but nothing too amazing
    • Season 2: 9/10 – A lot more movement, all well done.
    • Season 3: 9/10 – More movement still, very well done.  Some early episodes have some sour spots, but overall great.
  • Voice Acting: 10/10
  • Overall: 10/10

Information:

Title: The Boondocks

Released: 2005 – 2010 (3 seasons – 15 episodes each) – TV Series

Aired On: Adult Swim

Created By: Aaron McGruder

About the fourth season: Without Aaron McGruder’s involvement, I was skeptical about its quality.  I initially watched the first handful of episodes as they aired, but stopped due to not finding it worth the time.  Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe the fourth season is good.  I will probably go back and rewatch all of it one day, but my initial impressions were not good at all.

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