When writer Aaron McGruder decided to end his daily comic strip, The Boondocks, he did so because he’d found a better medium for his acerbic humor and social commentary. The transition from three-panel drawings to 30- minute animated series could have been a disaster. One need only mention the name Garfield and fans of television animation cringe. But McGruder found the right home when he decided to join forces with Adult Swim, the late night off-shoot of Cartoon Network. By going to an adult oriented block of television, McGruder was able to expand on his vision of The Boondocks and create one of the best animation series of the 21st Century, albeit, one intended for mature audiences.
The Boondocks centers on Huey Freeman, an outspoken, highly principled 10-year-old African American who lives with his gangsta wannabe 8-year-old brother, Riley, and their granddad, Robert. Grandad has more than a few screws loose. The three of them reside in the Chicago suburb of Woodcrest, Illinois. While I would clearly call Huey the central character of the show, the three Freemans each receive equal time in the spotlight throughout the third season of the show.
Like most of the cartoon comedies you come across on Adult Swim, The Boondocks uses limited animation to tell their stories (it’s cheaper that way). For this series, the creators chose an anime style that is surprisingly complimentary to most of the storylines. It’s particularly effective in the excellent kickball episode, “The Red Ball,” in which Huey is tricked into competing in an international kickball game. Between the laughs of parodying every sports and martial arts film ever made, “The Red Ball” also contains enough politics and abrasive opinions to piss off just about everyone.
One of my other favorites from this collection is the season opener, “It’s a Black President, Huey Freeman.” The story, told in a faux documentary style, complete with Werner Herzog providing narration, takes a harsh and thought provoking look at the Obama election.
The Boondocks: The Complete Third Season contains 15 episodes from the controversial series, all of which aired during 2010. The three disc set includes commentaries by show stars, Cedric Yarbrough, Gary Anthony Williams and John Witherspoon. Yarbough and Williams also deliver introductions to each episode which are fairly humorous. On DVD the show is uncensored. Thus, you get to hear plenty of “shits” and “fucks.” This truly is a series aimed at adults, although I sure there are plenty of teenagers who made this show a success.
Sorely missing from this collection is McGruder. The man behind Huey, Riley and Grandad certainly has an opinion and he’s never been afraid to express it on television news shows. One has to speculate whether he’s not burnt out from the years of drawing the cartoon and now producing a television series. If that’s the case, I wonder if we’ll see another season of The Boondocks. At present time, Adult Swim has not announced new episodes going into production. If this should be the end, at least the show went out on a high note.