The Boondocks: Smokin’ With Cigarettes

Oh, The Boondocks. As far as you’re concerned, I’m probably about as far away from this episode’s target audience as anyone can be. I’ve never seen Halloween, Juice, the video with Latarian Milton (on which the beginning of this episode was based), I don’t watch anime, and I’m white. Still, I’ll review this episode anyway. Why?

Why the hell not, I say.

So as I said, we start off  ‘Smokin with Cigarettes’ with Milton’s Boondocks counterpart – Lamilton Taeshawn – both being interviewed by an unseen doctor and running amok in a high-speed police pursuit with Riley in tow. While I understand that much of this was lifted right from the video (“it’s fun to do bad things” most prominently), being dropped right into the action was a little off putting for me. I found myself asking ‘Who is this kid? Why is Riley hanging out with him?,” even though it’s a cartoon show and the video interviews kinda explain his character anyway. If I had seen the Youtube video before I saw the episode, or had any vague knowledge that this was a takeoff of something, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so fish-out-of-water-y. But there’s no way to know that now. Anyway, as the episode went on, I felt less and less like seafood without a sustainable source of H2O (see what I did there? Har!), so I’ll address other things.

Well, the episode progresses, Riley gets into more trouble, Grandad gets pissed, and Lamilton starts to progress from creepy kid to pants-crappingly insane kid (right around the time he starts watching killer clown movies because he ‘likes seeing people get hurt’). And it’s around this time we get a visit from Doctor Doomis, Donald Pleasance’s character in Halloween with a D instead of an L. The powers that be could have gone above and beyond with that name (The Simpsons and ‘Mapple Mypod’ made me so angry I nearly killed a horse with my bare hands), but you won’t really care (at least I didn’t) because Dr. D’s first appearance was the highlight of the episode. Doomis’ sage advice is to kill Lamilton ASAP, and Granddad jumps on board the ‘Let’s murder an eight-year old in cold blood’ train almost immediately. Scenes like this highlight what I like to call the “Homer Simpson Less is More Formula” (Patent Pending). Homer’s funny, but he’s funnier in small doses- take a Lisa or Marge themed episode, and have Homer pop in for six seconds to smash a plate over his head, or bang his head into a cabinet, and it becomes about a jillion times funnier. Granddad only shows up for a little bit at a time this week, so hearing him savagely beat his grandson, or rationalizing why he should shoot a second-grader in the face is extra great. Another perfect example of this formula (Patent Pending) is Uncle Ruckus’ only line in this episode- he’s perfect when he shows up in a new job just to say something obscenely racist and leave just as quickly. Episodes like “The Story of Jimmy Rebel” only water down Ruckus’ hilarious-ness (for me, anyway).

The story continues, Riley finally gets desperate and fights back against Lamilton (in a gorgeously animated sunset fight scene), only for the episode to wither and die in a whirlwind of disappointment and frustration. This show is absolutely fantastic when it comes to creating really despicable bad guys, but this season has seen a huge drop in dispatching said bad guys. In earlier seasons, we saw people we hate get beaten to death, or kill themselves with grenades, and frankly, I loved it. Chutzpah like this is something I don’t often see on TV. Season three had that evil little Chinese kickball girl get tagged out running the bases (that one was okay, I guess), the Hateocracy get sent to jail in one overly long ‘black people going to jail joke,’ and now this. After a truly incredible fight with Riley, Lamilton dangles off the school rooftop before Riley makes a (predictable but still great) fat joke and Lamilton falls to his death. All in all, I’d say that’s some pretty satisfying comeuppance. But then he’s not dead. So Doomis jumps on him. But they’re still both alive. So they scuffle around a little. Our principal characters lose interest and walk away.

What?

I can’t wrap my head why this happens. It seems like such a weak way to get rid of a character who was built up as a repulsive sociopath. Plus he killed a dog. A DOG. The point of having Lamilton kill a dog is so the audience will hate him, and will feel relieved and satisfied when he gets his just desserts. Not so that they’ll laugh at some poorly executed slapstick that comes in at the exact wrong place. Well, I think my tirade is over by this point. Right?

Ha! Ha! Wrong! Right at the end, a passing student asks Riley if he’s got a cigarette, and Riley looks sullenly back at the kid, knowing that after all he’s experienced, that kind of fake tough guy act is meaningless in real life. Or at least, that’s what I figured he’d do, because the credits roll about 3/10 of a second into the shot of Riley’s face, abruptly ending the episode and leaving me wondering if somehow I shot two seconds forward in the space-time continuum. This may be just an error on Adult Swim’s part, but either way, it was a very weird way to cap off a very disappointing ending to what could have been one of the all-time great episodes of The Boondocks. I only hate because I care, Aaron Macgruder. Only because I care.

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