Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Color adjustment: The return of The Boondocks


The long-awaited second season premiere of The Boondocks (11:30 p.m. Eastern, Cartoon Network) indulges in all of the show’s worst tendencies -- shrill, pandering satire; too-obvious pop culture jokes; an anime-inspired fight scene that, while an interesting diversion, doesn’t fit with anything that has come before. If you're introduced to the series via tonight’s episode (airing in Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim bloc), you might be tempted to write the show off as just another tone-deaf satirical cartoon with pretensions to political relevance (many of sprung up in the wake of South Park and the success of the Jon Stewart-hosted Daily Show). But to do that would be a mistake. The Boondocks, uneven as it is, is audacious and ambitious enough to be essential viewing. Some of creator Aaron McGruder's gambits fall so flat that you cringe, even as you admire the show for attempting them at all. But as South Park's political ear grows increasingly tin -- the show, while still funny, often seems to be trying to outguess the audience as to what position it will take -- The Boondocks observes life among African-Americans both through close, observational humor and broad satire. It often succeeds at the former -- making it sort of an African-American answer to King of the Hill -- and succeeds at the latter surprisingly often.

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