TV review: “The Boondocks” is back after a long hiatus

From the April 17, 2014 edition

It’s been nearly four years since “The Boondocks” was on television, and this will be the final season of the series. Unfortunately, creator Aaron McGruder isn’t involved with this season, which makes for uneven episodes. I screened the second and fourth episodes of Season 4 — it’s odd the premiere wasn’t made available — and while there are some good moments, something is missing.

The two episodes don’t feature much on the sociopolitical front that “The Boondocks” is often praised for — or hated if you’re Al Sharpton. The second episode is basically a re-imagining of the “Breaking Bad” pilot, with Granddad taking a Walter White-ian path with a hair product instead of meth.

The fourth episode revolves around “frumpy everyman” Tom — and neighbor to Huey, Riley and Granddad — getting involved with a Chris Brown-type character. I’m always down for making fun of Chris Brown, but it’s hardly an original approach.

When “The Boondocks” is at its greatest, it’s taking on bigger issues — Martin Luther King Jr.’s take on modern African-American culture, U.S./China relations through the guise of a kickball game or a takedown of Tyler Perry — with a biting, un-P.C. sense of humor.

And this is where “The Boondocks” disappointed in the first two episodes. So much has happened in the last four years (Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, Obamacare, gun control, gay marriage) that “The Boondocks” could tackle. Hopefully these topics get episodes this season.

But without McGruder, there’s a good chance the narratives and themes this season follow the pop culture phenomena of the two episodes I screened. McGruder is the voice of “The Boondocks,” and his absence could result in something similar to what happened when “Community” didn’t have Dan Harmon. All the pieces are there but don’t come together correctly.

Hopefully “The Boondocks” will present some better episodes this season, because it deserves to go out on a high note.

Photo courtesy Adult Swim