This week saw the return of one of my favorite shows on Cartoon Network, The Boondocks. I've been a fan of Aaron McGruder's work (though I don't necessarily endorse his views) since his early days in syndication, but I've always found the cartoon to be a roller coaster ride in terms of quality. Some episodes contain absolutely brilliant insights into American society through parody, while other episodes I simply find crude and controversial for the sake of being controversial.
In other words, it's South Park with better animation. That's exactly why I love it, and can forgive it for its less impressive episodes. Its loving homages to anime and Hong Kong cinema are both hilarious and gorgeous - just watch the first episode of Season 2 to see this for yourself.
The core of the show is its humor, though, and that has seen wild ups and downs over the course of the series. If the first episode of Season 3 is any indication, then the series is back at its peak. "Dick Ridin' Obama," the parody of will i am's campaign song "Yes We Can," was dirty and funny and spot-on all at the same time. At the same time, the episode tempered its humor with a serious treatment of the relationship between election year optimism and political reality. The episode overall made me cautiously optimistic about the show's return from a long hiatus. If they can keep up the humor to go along with the show's great visuals, then this whole season will be worth the wait.
I wouldn't suggest going out and watching the whole series, since the show's politics and humor definitely aren't for everyone. But you owe it to yourself to watch a couple episodes and decide for yourself. At its best, The Boondocks blows Family Guy and South Park out of the water. At its worst, it's still a huge step above American Dad, The Cleveland Show, and recent episodes of The Simpsons.