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Tuned In: 'Boondocks' to jump into Adult Swim


Monday, July 18, 2005

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Sony Pictures Television

Riley Freeman moves from the funny papers to television when "The Boondocks" premieres this fall on Cartoon Network.


If you've been offended by the comic strip "The Boondocks" in this and other newspapers, prepare to have the same reaction when a 30-minute animated series based on the strip premieres in Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block at 11 p.m. Oct. 2.


The strip's writer, Aaron McGruder, is executive producer of the 15-episode first season of the animated "Boondocks." Like the strip, the series follows the daily life of Robert "Granddad" Freeman (voice of John Witherspoon), who lives in the boondocks with his grandkids, 10-year-old Huey and 8-year-old Riley (both voiced by Regina King), who move in with him after living in Chicago's South Side.


Huey is a left-wing revolutionary who's determined to dislike suburbia. Riley is a proud product of modern rap culture.


In the first episode, "The Trial of R. Kelly," Granddad plays chess, and he and his opponent discuss the trials of famous black men in a scene charged with humor and racial politics.


"What did O.J. Simpson say to Kobe once his case was over? Don't let this whole trial thing turn you off to white women."


Because of the production time necessary for animated shows -- McGruder has already been working on the series for 10 months -- it can't be as topical as the comic. Instead, he said, it will be story-driven in a way the comic can't be.


Now 31, McGruder got his first syndication contract for the strip at 23, fresh out of the University of Maryland. He said he originally conceived of "Boondocks" as a TV show, but at the time figured it might be easier to get a comic in newspapers than a show on TV.


But newspapers have been a challenge, too, sometimes pulling the strip if editors deem the topics or language offensive.


McGruder said he has never read fan mail or hate mail, but he's aware that some African-American leaders, including Jesse Jackson, have called his syndicate to complain about the comic. He said Jackson was upset when McGruder took him and other black leaders to task when they made a fuss about a Rosa Parks joke in the movie "Barbershop."


"I didn't call him back," McGruder said. "What are we going to talk about? 'OK, you're mad about the strip, you're gonna try to explain to me why 'Barbershop' is the end of the world. I don't really agree.' It's part of the feedback you don't want because it makes it hard to do the job. Jesse could call me and give a brilliant explanation of why what I did was terribly wrong, but it was still funny, and that's my job."


That said, McGruder acknowledged that he has softened in recent years since having more involvement in Hollywood and a greater opportunity to meet the people he criticizes in the comic, which has often skewered TV shows, movies and celebrities.


"I do think about it now when I sit down to write about people, and if I think I am I gonna see them, it's not worth it," he said. "Yeah, I can't help but soften, but I don't need to be hard my whole life. But I think more of it was just trying to do something else creatively. 'OK, I get it, that movie was bad.' I did it and didn't have the burning need to do it week-in and week-out. [Now it's] only when people really deserve it."


Originally made as a six-minute pilot for Fox, the TV version of "The Boondocks" migrated to Adult Swim after Fox passed on it, which was fine by McGruder. He said Fox didn't have a problem with the language or dialogue as much as the storytelling structure, which he described at Fox as "rigid."


"Adult Swim is much more open to telling bigger stories that aren't constrained to the living room," he said. "We got notes from Fox about showing the characters in the living room, the kitchen, the neighbor's house, their living room, their kitchen. 'We have to see that or we don't know where they live or where they eat.' "


Among TV shows, McGruder said, "The Boondocks" series probably bears the closest comedic sensibility to Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show." He said he and Dave Chappelle are friends of about the same age and have similar cultural influences. He's also a fan of Adult Swim's "Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law" and both the British and American versions of "The Office."


Like "Chappelle's Show," the TV version of "Boondocks" includes use of the N-word.


"I think it makes the show sincere," he said. "At a certain point, sometimes we use bad language, and the N-word is used so commonly now, not only by myself but people I know, that I feel it's fake to write around it and not use it."

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  • 3 weeks later...

I watched it on Sunday and taped it on the DVR at the same time, so I've watched it twice since then. It's so fucking sweet. I didn't have any problems with Regina King doing the voices of Huey and Riley. For the most part in cartoons women voice little boys anyways. The rest of the voice talent was pretty sweet too. John Witherspoon plays the grandfather and Charlie Murphy guested too (he had a funny ass speech). Also in it were John DiMaggio and Billy West ("Futurama"-tastic).


Being the first episode things can only get better. It's definitlty a welcome addition to the Adult Swim block, I mean "Squidbillies" and "12oz Mouse"...?

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Not entirely unrelated:


Has anyone read the Aaron McGruder and Kyle Baker collaboration comic: Birth Of A Nation?


I always thought that would make a quality cartoon movie, Watership Down-stylie. :shady:



On The Boondocks cartoon, haven't caught it yet, but hope to soon. Love that Adult Swim. Seeeaaalllaaabbbbb..underneath the water....

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Bucket: Yeah, I have Birth of a Nation. It really loses points at the end with its lackluster oh-shit-my-publisher-needs-the-final-draft-in-20-minutes-and-I-forgot-to-write-an-ending-for-this-thing-shit-I-better-just-tie-up-all-the-loose-ends-in-a-matter-that's-illogical-unrealistic-and-completely-opposite-of-the-rest-of-the-book's-central-themes ending. Otherwise it was really really awesome.

Edited by Jack's Meandering Thoughts
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  • 3 weeks later...

It's been good so far, but I reckon any the ho' episode was weaker for not having Uncle Ruckus, the show's best character full stop.




And the last episode, Grandpa kills an old blind man, wasn't expecting that, bit of a bummer really.

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The first two were better in my opinion, get on Piratebay or Torrentspy, you should be able to find them all.

Alas, I must use school computers, and bit torrent (and other person to person file sharing programs) is blocked. Damn the school! Can't even use AIM Express anymore.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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So last week's episode was good, but the one on tonight looks like it'll be the edgiest most controversial one yet. The night before Martin Luther King Day, CN will air the Boondocks episode, The Return Of The King, in which Martin Luther King Jr comes out of a coma, it shocked by the world of the 21st century, and is labeled a terrorist sympathizer.


Fuck that sounds good.

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So far my favorite episode has been the R. Kelly trial. The gas station shootout, christmas special, and the last pimp-my-ride episode have all been pure class too, and the MLK episode looks like it'll be great. And yes, the theme song indeed kicks ass.


I am the stone that the builder refused

I am the visual, the inspiration that made ladies sing the blues

somethin', somethin'....

I am the ballot in your box, the bullet in your gun

And I'ma remain a soldier, til the war is won

chuck chuck chuck

Eh...couldn't resist.

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