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March 4, 2010

Princess Powerful Attacks: The Boondocks Season 1 (Part 1)

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The Boondocks was a comic strip created by Aaron McGruder.  The story focuses on the Freeman family who moved from the South side of Chicago to Woodcrest, a fictional suburb area.  Riley, Huey, and their grandfather Robert, try to find ways to cope with the slight change of scenario as characters make commentaries toward stereotypes, American culture, and race relations.  The series is very controversial due to its subject matter, jokes, and the use of curse words.

The Boondocks debuted in a student newspaper for the University of Maryland called The Diamondback.  The comic strip ran from December 3, 1996-March 18, 1997.  Aaron McGruder pulled his comic strip later, because The Diamondback refused to apologize for printing the word “OOPS” in its place without an explanation.

In 1997, McGruder allowed his comic to be printed in a monthly hip hop magazine called The Source.  The Boondocks gained popularity amongst readers, and was debuted by the Universal Press Syndicate on December 19, 1999.  In 2003, Jennifer Seng relieved McGruder from drawing the comic strip.  In an interview with The New Yorker Aaron commented on the artist change.

“If something had to give, it was going to be the art.  I think I’m a better writer than artist.”

Later next year, Carl Jones succeeded Jennifer Seng as the artist.

On February 28, 2006, McGruder announced that The Boondocks would go on hiatus starting on March 27, 2006.  Although the comic strip didn’t return, McGruder adapted it into an animated television series.

The Boondocks premiered as an animated television series on Cartoon Network, with association of Sony Pictures Television, in 2005.  It starred John Witherspoon, Cedric Yarbrough, Gary Anthony Williams, Jill Talley, Gabby Soleil, and Regina King as Huey and Riley Freeman.  The story had a loose connection with the comic strip’s continuity.  For example, the character Uncle Ruckus’s first appearance, and Riley’s hair styled into Cornrows was introduced later in the comic strip to match the cartoon.  Key characters from the comic strip, like Huey’s best friend Michael Caesar, haven’t appeared in the series yet.

“The Trial of R. Kelly”, episode 1×01
Written by: Rodney Barnes and Aaron McGruder
Directed by: Anthony Bell
Original Air Date: November 13, 2005
Guest Starring: Adam West as R. Kelly’s lawyer

R. Kelly comes to town for his trial, so Riley goes to the city to show his support.  Riley is accompanied by Huey, who is astonished by the vast number of people who blindly support the R&B singer.  Tom Dubois prosecutes the case, but will the evidence be enough to win against R. Kelly?

Side Notes: R. Kelly’s case was in reference to the real celebrity’s allegations of having sex with a minor.  In the episode, his lawyer was parodied after the civil rights lawyer William Kunstler, who was known for taking unpopular civil rights cases.

Rosa Parks appeared in “The Trial of R. Kelly”, but her scene was cut in respect for her family and recent death.  In a deleted scene, she protested against R. Kelly outside the courthouse.  One of R. Kelly’s supporters accuses Rosa and other protestors denying her right to eat anything she wanted.  She threw a chicken bone that she finished eating at Rosa, knocking her down.  Although that scene was removed, she can be seen hugging her assailant in the background as Riley and Huey leave the courthouse.

The opening credits gave an inviting and edgy look for the show.  It was similar to Samurai Champloo’s opening credits with a few pop culture references edited in, like Riley depicting Scarface’s movie poster.  McGruder loves anime and manga, which shows in his work.  The Boondocks’s style in the comic and television show were based off of anime and manga series, like Cowboy Beebop.

“The Trial of R. Kelly” was the first appearance of Tom DuBois.  His voice actor, Cedric Yarbrough,  has the ability to scream in pain and make it sound humorous at the same time.  It wasn’t until later in the season when he became one of the funniest characters besides Riley.

Huey’s monologue at the end of the episode was very significant.  He voiced a commentary on R.Kelly’s problem, by telling fans that they should advise the singer to seek help if they truly cared for him.  Regina King’s voice as she  delivered that statement was hilarious.  I especially loved it when Riley, who King also voices for, broke Huey’s acknowledging speech with boos.

“Guess Hoe’s Coming to Dinner”, episode 1×02
Written by: Rodney Barnes and Aaron McGruder
Directed by: Anthony Bell
Original Air Date: November 20, 2005
Guest Starring: Tiffany Thomas and Katt Williams as A Pimp Named Slickback

Robert goes on a date with a woman named Cristal, like the champagne, which he met at the grocery store.  He ignores all the evidence that his new girlfriend has a colorful lifestyle.  Riley and Huey must silently watch as their grandfather goes on shopping sprees with Cristal, and allow her to move into their house.

Side Notes: This was the first appearance of the running gag “getting a full dose of Vitamin-C”, even though it was broadcasted as the third episode.  There were a few pop culture references made in “Guess Hoe’s Coming to Dinner”, like Riley calling Cristal a “fake [bleep] Mariah Carey”.

Robert blindly ignored all the blatant signs that Cristal was a prostitute when he fell in love.  It’s difficult for him to date women, so that left him to become desperate for a chance of happiness.

“Guess Hoe’s Coming to Dinner” was the first time I saw Robert and Riley’s interaction as being the funniest aspect of the show.  I thought “they could have their own show” and to my surprise, it was made into a joke in a later episode called “The Real”.

Robert was shown to actually care for someone in “Guess Hoe’s Coming to Dinner”.  Although Mr. Freeman has shown acts of selfishness, he does sincerely care for his family and others.

“The Garden Party”, episode 1×03
Written by: Rodney Barnes and Aaron McGruder
Directed by: Anthony Bell
Original Air Date: November 6, 2005
Guest Starring: Ed Asner and Charlie Murphy as the Wunclers

Millionaire Ed Wuncler pays a visit to the Freeman family.  He always tries to “let the right people in” when any new family receives a loan from his bank.  Robert wins Ed Wunclear over with his charming personality, along with his cheese products, and is invited over to a dinner party.  This invitation doesn’t sit right with the Freeman brothers, but they attend with his grandfather to the party.

Ed Wunclear introduces the Freeman family to his grandson Ed Wunclear III, an ex-solider who fought in Iraq.  Ed III is vastly different from his grandfather,  and appears to be somewhat violent.  He invites Riley to go see his gun collection and the pair disappears into his house.

Meanwhile, Huey is angered that he fails to educate party goers about the “truth”.  The party goers aren’t worried about anything in life and clap about everything, like Uncle Ruckus’s racially offensive song he wrote about the Freeman family.  However, Robert found a way to enjoy himself at the party by joking around with Ed Wuncler Sr.

Back upstairs, Riley fires a gun at Ed III, which sends the young millionaire out of a 2 story window.  Ed III stands up  and yells to the crowd, “What the [bleep] y’all lookin’ at?”

Robert nervously apologizes to Ed Sr. about the incident.  Surprisingly, Ed responds that his grandson “…will be President of the United States…and he’ll still be a [bleep]ing idiot.”  Afterward, they both toast a drink to the old school.

Side Notes: “The Garden Party” was filled with a lot of pop culture references, like Huey holding an airsoft gun and looking out the window.  It was in reference to Life Magazine’s photo of Malcolm X holding a M1 Carbine, defending his family.

The running gag, “a full day’s supply of Vitamin C”  in “The Garden Party”, was the first to broadcast the joke even though the episode was the third story in production.

“What the [bleep] y’all lookin’ at?” became Ed III’s signature quote in every episode he had appeared in.

This was the first episode of The Boondocks I saw when it premiered on Cartoon Network.  I felt the opening where Huey makes a speech to party goers in his dream was the ballsiest move I’ve ever seen on television.  I was familiar with the comic strip, due to a really cool friend telling me about it, but I never sat down to read it until 2006.  Also, this was the first show I’ve seen to use the N-word heavily.  If you were to make a drinking game out of it, you would die from an overdose.  It’s not something I want to attempt nor have others try.  In comparison with watching the show on television and the DVD or online, the latter showed a more balanced color palette on screen.

I felt like the characters were walking on egg shells interacting with Ed Wuncler Sr.  I didn’t like that feeling and was happy when Ed and Robert became friends.  Riley befriending Ed Wuncler III was hilarious.  In this episode Ed III is introduced, but later in the series, the writers have fun with his interactions with Riley and others.

“Granddad’s Fight”, episode 1×04
Written by: Rodney Barnes and Aaron McGruder
Directed by: Joe Horme
Original Air Date: November 27, 2005
Guest Starring: Terry Crews.  Cedric Yarbrough, one of the main cast members, provided the voice of Colonel H. Stinkmeaner.

The Freeman family leaves the mall and run into an old blind man named Colonel H. Stinkmeaner.

Colonel H. Stinkmeaner has turned his back from anything pleasant in life, which evolved him into a cantankerous person.  When he lost his sight at 15, he was foreseen to die in the next 3 years.  So, Stinkmeaner dedicated his life to spreading misery and pain to others.  He survived past 18, but even with the brush of death couldn’t change his outlook on life.

Stinkmeaner’s car runs into Robert’s car, to which Mr. Freeman outbursts “Dorthy (car)!”  The old blind man gets out of his vehicle and blames the accident on Robert.  This claim erupts and escalates to the old man ruining Robert’s new shoes and whacking the Freeman elder’s bad knee with his white cane.

Robert is utterly embarrassed when several news stations report the fight on television.  He meets up with Stinkmeaner to set a date for a rematch.  Huey is alarmed when he’s told this and warns his gratherfather that Stinkmeaner is a Zatoichi, the blind swordsman.  Robert is trained by Huey,  so he’s prepared for the upcoming fight.  Word gets out about the rematch, so Riley is inspired to take bets and admission to view the brawl.

As the old men fight, Huey realizes his mistake.  Stinkmeaner was a blind old man who got a lucky hit, and not a Zatoichi.  Unfortunately, Robert wasn’t warned in time and accidentally killed Stinkmeaner with a punch to the skull.  Robert was sent to jail, but was released when Huey and Tom legally sanctioned the fight at the last moment.  Afterward, Robert holds a small funeral for Stinkmeaner with his grandchildren at the mall where they first met the elderly man.

Side Notes: I liked how the ‘moments’ appeared throughout the episode, stopping the film, to list each point Huey narrated with a ‘game show bing’ sound.  It reminded me of Wile E. Coyote and The Roadrunner cartoons where the cartoon would freeze, display text on the screen, and continue the scene.

Riley teasing Robert in “Grandadd’s fight” was the longest harassment I had seen in these first five episodes.  I loved how he stopped in the middle to take a breath before continuing to tease his grandfather.

Huey’s dream sequence was a reference to Ninja Scroll.  In his dream, he was dressed similar to Afro Samurai, a fictional character created by Takashi Okazaki.  Another reference made in the episode was of the Zatoichi.  Zatoichi was a fictional character, created by novelist Kan Shimozawa, who was featured in numerous Japanese films and television shows set in the Edo period.

“The Real”, episode 1×05
Written by: Aaron McGruder
Directed by: Anthony Bell
Original Air Date: January 8, 2006
Guest Starring: John C. Ginley and Xzibit as himself

Riley was inspired by his grandfather’s newfound style of wearing sunglasses all the time.  He contacts Xzibit to “pimp his ride”.  He clues Robert in on the plan in order to fix his car, which was damaged earlier by Stinkmeaner.  Huey meets a strange man who “knows him better than he thinks”.  His little brother and grandfather don’t believe him and is teased for his new “imaginary friend”.

One day, Extreme Makeover Home Edition stops by the Freeman household to redecorate the house.  Apparently Riley also contacted them that Robert needed help since he “runs a homeless shelter”.  Robert is delighted for his future where he will be surrounded by women in a lavish environment.  Huey is ignored when he warns his family that it’s a bad idea to lead people on.

Meanwhile, Huey is continuously followed by his “imaginary friend” who is a government agent.  He’s confused on the man’s appearance,  since he’s the only one who could see and communicate with him.  The audience is left to wonder if the agent was real or a figment of Huey’s imagination.

Things get hairy for the Freeman family when Robert accidentally blows his cover.  The Extreme Makeover Home Edition and Xzibit become disdained and leave.

The Freeman’s household is in shambles and they don’t have a car.  Xzibit drops by to return Robert’s car, because his lawyers told him that he couldn’t keep it.  However, Robert will be charged $35, 423.08 for the repair work.

Side Notes: There were references to people and reality shows, like Bill Cosby and Pimp My Ride.  The beginning of the episode felt like it broke the fourth wall when the Freeman family were  interviewed.  Throughout the episode, the camera would cut to inner thoughts that the family had on the episode’s situation.

“And if R. Kelly goes to jail, I’ll piss on your cat!”

Huey mentioned that his grandfather and brother could have their own television show.  It felt weird hearing it in “The Real”, because I thought the same thing while watching “Granddad’s Fight”.

“The Real” also showed Huey’s interactions with Jazmine DuBois.  He was unnecessarily mean to her, because he wanted to enlighten her from her ignorance and naiveté.  In some ways it felt like he pushed her away so she wouldn’t get close to him.  Huey’s tactics have been known to not work, like in “The Garden Party”, so it adds another element of humor when he’s generally ignored by others.

To Be Continued in The Boondocks Season 1 (Part 2)!

Princess Powerful



  1. Ug, I’ll stay away from here. I never liked the comic, and I basically hated the cartoon series. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but I never found it funny. More lame and annoying, than anything.

  2. I don’t understand the “OOPS” thing…can you expand on that?

  3. In one of the The Diamondback’s issues ran the word “OOPS” where “The Boondock”‘s comic panels were usually printed. They never mentioned why they they did it, and refused to apologize to readers nor Aaron.

    I can only make an assumption as to why they did that, but it’s only a opinion and may not be the truth.

  4. […] Read more: Princess Powerful Attacks: The Boondocks Season 1 (Part 1) […]

  5. billy

    Very in depth. I never saw the show but I’d take a peek if I caught it on now.

  6. When I first read the Boondocks I was pretty “meh” about it but I would glance at it from time to time finding some things funny and some things offensive and still funny. However what Aaron was doing was expressing his opinion through his art and the show conveyed the same type of in your face attitude as the comic strip that pissed off people. Aaron has used the strip to blast BET and their horrible programing, rappers who send out ridiculously ignorant ass messages as opposed to Hip-Hop artists (there is a difference), parents that don’t parent their kids, white kids that “act Black”,politics, current events and so on…

    Aaron’s characters are a bit extreme at times but they are also dead on. Riley and Huey are two sides of the same coin. Aaron has had issues with BET and uses that effectively and it’s shown through Riley as young kid thinking that the gangster life is where it’s at and heavily influenced by the media while Huey is more the thinking, book smart kid that sees all the crap going on and speaks his mind and tries to educate his little brother as well as anyone else.

    Many people just “don’t get it” and at times I wish Aaron would make the show a little more accessable to people who aren’t African American because I’ll find humor or some deep speech from Huey while the guy sitting next me has this blank look on his face. I think that Aaron is angry at a lot of things going on in Black culture and how we are percieved as a whole and expresses a LOT of truth in this cartoon. Huey gets ignored a LOT because in the end everyone thinks they already know everything and refuse to be taught especially by the little Black kid whose trying to drop some knowledge.

    Hell I’ve been told i’m the “right kind” of Black guy so when I saw that in the episode I was able to make yet another connection. There are many moments like that as well as some stuff thats just way out there but all in all it’s a pretty good series and I like that fact that Aaron continues to step on toes and bring things to the surface because once you get past the language and jokes there is a lot of truth in that show.

    The opening theme song by Pete Rock pretty much sums up a lot of what the attitude of the show is about and is just a damn good song.

  7. wow, I got a couple of emails about my comment above where I mention in the first paragraph that Aaron used the strip and the show to put some things out there to the public and one of those in particular offended a few people and it was the “white kids “acting Black”” comment. I put the “acting Black” part in quotations because I’ve always thought it’s an ignorant ass comment to make. Because what you’re saying when you make this comment is that you’ve put Black people in this little box and labled us to this very minute part of what you think is our culture as a whole. Yes there are white kids who get wrapped up in what they THINK is our culture and begin to emulate certain parts and in turn look foolish as do the Black kids who emulate the negative parts of songs and what’s shown on TV. For example Ed III and Rielly in the series as both are basically the extreme example of what I mentioned along with Ed’s best friend. Hopefully the irony isn’t lost as thest two white guys trying to be “down” (or what they percieve as “down”) being voiced by Charlie Murphy and Samuel L. Jackson. But notice how Rielly looks up to Ed III more than he does his older brother and the both of them have been sucked in to the hype.

    So no I wasn’t attacking white kids who like the Boondocks, hip-hop, or anything else but when you or anyone goes the extreme and makes an ass out of themselves like the guys in the show then yeah thats an issue and I don’t see whats wrong with Aaron McGruder putting it out there especially when it’s funny as hell to watch!

  8. Thanks for clearing that up Princess! And holy hell, you know your shit!

    And Speech, put on those boxing gloves man!! lol

  9. ^_^ Thanks!

    Infinite: <3

  10. […] Boodocks Season 1 Part 1, we discussed the origins of The Boondocks comic strip series that was created by Aaron McGruder. […]

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