The Boondocks??? Or Nah
April 21st marked the return of the fourth and final season of the equally beloved and hated series The Boondocks on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The announcement of the return of the Militant Huey Freeman, young hood booger Riley, Granddad, Uncle Ruckus and a host of other characters we have come to love garnered widespread excitement, which was immediately quelled with the news that series creator Aaron McGruder would not be involved. Fans began passing judgment even before viewing the McGruder-less episodes. I try not to be of the hate first, ask questions later ilk, so I decided to hold off until I had at least seen a few episodes for myself. In this particular case the haters might be right. The episodes haven’t been terrible, but something doesn’t taste quite right. The show is missing its secret sauce.
The premier episode took a page out of the Law & Order SVU playbook; the “let’s troll the shit out of Chris Brown” episode. Michael B. Jordan was great as R&B thug Pretty Boy Flizzy, and the episode certainly had its moments, however it came off like a forgery, to heavy handed with the hip hop misogyny as Flizzy teaches Tom Dubois how to deal with these hoes in exchange for legal counsel. The subtleties weren’t there; it felt like an outsider’s representation of what a Boondocks episode should be, instead of that original recipe.
The second Good Times themed episode slid even further down the scale for me, although the slumlord aspect of the episode came at an opportune time with the controversy surrounding maligned business magnate and L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Uncle Ruckus carried this one as a Republican politico and the “One Eyed Charley” for Ed Wuncler Jr. Perhaps a heavy dose of Ruckus is the answer to acquiescing disgruntled fans; Ruckus always brings the funny and it’s hard to go wrong with the white man’s ultimate champion in the building.
The Rumor encircling McGruder’s departure is that he and the network could not agree on the production schedule for season four episodes. McGruder addressed his departure from the show in a recent Facebook post in which he stated that although leaving the show is painful, Hollywood is a business and he does not hold any grudges. That was a stand up statement from a guy who for the better part of twenty years has been the creative force behind The Boondocks. My question is should the fourth season have been produced at all without the input of the guy who essentially has Boondocks in his DNA. Granted there have been a number of shows that went on to do well without its original creator from Star Trek on up to Dexter and The Walking Dead; however, The Boondocks probably won’t fall into that category. McGruder’s imprint and comedic sensibilities are forever associated with what we have come to love about The Boondocks, and removing that imprint is almost criminal. It would be tantamount to producing season six of The Wire without David Simon. (GTFOH)
With that said I will probably ride out the rest of the season out of sheer curiosity and a desire to see some of my favorite characters like Gangstalicious, A Pimp Named Slickback, and other intriguing cameos, but The Boondocks as we’ve come to know it is no more. As McGruder himself stated, “Hollywood is a business” so the show must go on. We will be anticipating his new live-action creation Black Jesus also appearing on Adult Swim. With names like Corey Holcomb, and Boondocks alum Charlie Murphy and John Witherspoon attached, the show most definitely will go on. Stay tuned.