US Broadcast Premiere: November 6, 2005 (Sony Pictures Television)
US DVD Release: July 25, 2006
Running Time: Approximately 5 hours (15 episodes; approximately 20 minutes each)
Rating: None (Contains lots of astonishing language, some cartoonish violence, and occasional nudity)
Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.33:1 & 1.78:1 non-anamorphic)
Audio: English DD2.0 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
Subtitles: French (Extra Features: None)
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
Menus: Background animation.
Packaging: Cardboard slipcase containing three slim keepcases and a booklet advertising other Sony TV on DVD sets.
THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3.5/5
What happens when a radical militant and a violent gangsta move to a peaceful suburban paradise? Did I mention that the revolutionary is ten years old and the thug is eight? Welcome to The Boondocks, the sometimes hilarious and always edgy new animated series based on Aaron Mcgruder’s popular newspaper comic strip.
Ten-year-old Huey (Regina King) and his eight-year-old brother Riley (also Regina King!), formerly of the inner city, have come to live with their grandfather Robert (John Witherspoon) in the wealthy suburban enclave of Woodcrest. Huey lets himself be challenged by his new, multiracial, relatively harmonious surroundings, always trying to keep his gray matter active. Riley, on the other hand, fancies himself a badass and isn’t one to let thinking get in the way of acting (OK, he’s only 8, but still).
Huey and Riley’s adventures range from the relatively mundane (Grandad’s short-lived relationship with a rather skanky young woman) to the fantastic (what if Martin Luther King, Jr. were still alive?) to the downright wacky (Riley trying to kill Santa Claus or kidnap Oprah Winfrey). They’re joined by a cast of eccentric supporting caricatures – Tom Dubois (Cedric Yarbrough), the young black professional with a white wife (methinks the names “Tom” and “Dubois” are not coincidental), Ed Wuncler (Ed Asner), the insanely wealthy WASP neighbor who seems to own everything in town (and I do mean everything), and Ed’s son Ed III (Charlie Murphy), a complete lunatic who, with his pal Gin Rummy (Samuel L. Jackson), cooks up a series of absurd criminal plots. We also meet, from the darkest depths of Aaron Mcgruder’s twisted sense of humor, Uncle Ruckus (Gary Anthony Williams).
Did you ever read one of those stories about a black man who joined the KKK? That’s Uncle Ruckus. Ever met someone who constantly rambled on semi-coherently about ideas and theories that rarely, if ever, seemed grounded in reality? That’s Uncle Ruckus. While many of the characters and storylines in The Boondocks gleefully dance across the line of good taste, Ruckus lost sight of that line completely sometime back in the ‘50s. He’ll either turn your stomach or knock you out of your seat with laughter (or very possibly both). He even provides a couple of in-character commentary tracks that rank as some of the funniest material of the entire set.
The Boondocks sometimes hits the bulls-eye and sometimes falls flat, but it never stops pushing buttons. Experimenting with just about any idea that comes to Mcgruder’s mind and desperately trying to stay on the edge doesn’t always work, but then again, neither does playing it safe. This show never plays it safe, and sometimes becomes completely bizarre. It’s easy to give it credit for trying, even when the laughs aren’t there. The great moments are worth it. And, precocious as Huey and Riley are, the show never quite loses sight of the fact that these are little boys. So we can let their shenanigans slide.
One note on the kids – although our heroes are youngsters, this show is absolutely not for children. (Kids won’t get most of it anyway.) The language is extraordinarily rough, with a smorgasbord of 4-letter-words and prolific use of a particular term that rhymes with “outrigger” (or, to be precise, “outrigga”). In addition, there’s violence (albeit mostly cartoonish, in the A-Team mold) and even occasional nudity.
THE WAY I SEE IT: 3.5/5
The traditional hand-drawn animation looks pretty good, with an occasional attack of the jaggies but nothing too obnoxious. Interestingly, this is the closest I’ve ever seen American animation get to the look of Japanese Anime (the animation is actually done by Koreans).
THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5
The audio is almost entirely center-channel, although there is some stereo action. Dialogue is clear and music sounds good. Sound effects are about what you’d expect from TV animation. N-words are about what you’d expect to hear in prison (in other words, if the casual use of that term bothers you – watch something else).
THE SWAG: 2/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)
With the exception of two crew commentaries and one Uncle Ruckus commentary on disc 2, all the extras are on disc 1.
Commentary With the Crew (5 episodes)
The commentaries are just OK. There are some interesting tidbits of information, but they often devolve into chitchat and giggling. Two of the commentaries can either be listened to or watched as video commentary (the episode plays in a box on the screen with the commentary participants shown in another box).
Commentary With Uncle Ruckus (2 episodes)
Uncle Ruckus, the craziest of a generally loony ensemble of characters, offers his insights. Hysterically funny, but be warned – these tracks would make Carlos Mencia blush!
Behind The Scenes Featurette (20:40)
A fairly interesting interview with creator Aaron McGruder, although there are a few too many show clips.
Three scenes are included; two run about a minute while the third runs just under 2 minutes. The audio isn’t completely finished (there’s dialogue but not much in the way of music). These are actually pretty funny and worth watching. One features Rosa Parks, and was cut due to her death shortly before the episode was aired.
Storyboards for five scenes are shown along with the corresponding dialogue (but not music or effects) audio.
Unaired Promos (3:49)
Four funny ads that were not shown on TV.
Storyboards for five different scenes can be printed out from your PC or Mac.
- Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth (1:22) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
- The Detonator (1:08) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
- Richard Pryor Stand-Up Double Feature (2:07) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic)
- Underworld: Evolution (2:21) (DD5.1; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
The Way I Feel About It: 3.5/5
The Way I See It: 3.5/5
The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5
The Swag: 2/5
The Boondocks is a show that always aims high, even if it sometimes falls flat. It certainly gets credit for trying. It also gets credit for frequently being hilarious. However, due to the mind-blowingly non-PC subject matter, it’s not a show for everyone – if you’re considering it, then you might want to first check it out on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim nighttime programming block. If you are a fan, then you’ll be pleased with the A/V quality of the set. The special features are OK, but not too exciting (those Uncle Ruckus commentaries are something though!). Of course, a review of this show wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that it really sticks it to the Man! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)