Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Boondocks: "The Story of Lando Freeman"

Illustration for article titled The Boondocks: "The Story of Lando Freeman"

Damn, Boondocks!  Don't you ever take a night off?  I'm all hung over from patriotic celebratin', and here you are, making me watch TV late at night when I should be getting ready to sleep in some more.  Still, there's only a few episodes left, so I suppose I should appreciate the shit while I can.

This time around, we find Robert in a state of frustration because Uncle Ruckus, his regular yard man, has forsaken him for the joy of laboring for white people.  Luckily, into town rolls young Lando, an expert handyman who offers "way better prices with none of the racial antagonism" and will work for a cigarette and some orange juice.  He even takes Granddad to the House of Cheeks, where he confesses that he thinks Robert might be his father.  (This show plays loose enough with chronology that Robert Freeman could have been a WWII fighter pilot and still looked middle-age in 1980, but since it also exists in a universe where overweight senior citizens are wushu masters, why nitpick?)

The elder Freeman immediately does the worst possible thing you can do on this show, which is to seek out the advice of Gin Rummy.  His first suggestion, naturally, is murder, but failing that, he advises a guest shot (as "The Near-Death Deadbeat") on a talk show hosted by Steve Wilko, boisterously voiced by John DiMaggio.  Their paternity test shows that Lando is indeed Granddad's seed, and soon enough, he's moved into the Freeman home and is alternately causing tension and family pride.

This episode was an odd duck:  it was more or less a gentle, family-sitcom-style installment, with very little in the way of social satire, parody of contemporary black culture, or even racial content (Ruckus aside).  But strangely enough, it worked for me; it had plenty of funny lines, and I liked the way it encapsulated a dozen or so cliches about family life in the space of a few afternoons of action.  The performances were great all around, with even Billy Dee Williams as the gimmicky guest star working out well enough, and all around, it had a relaxed, friendly vibe that was unexpected but very enjoyable from The Boondocks.

While this season has  been outstanding so far, most of its episodes have been crammed full of current pop culture references, or have been sequels, continuations, or remakes of previous episodes.  Tonight was about taking a break and telling a simple, straightforward, character-driven story, and while it definitely doesn't quite fit in with the tone of the season so far, it's nice to see that Aaron McGruder's got it in him.

Rating:  A-

Stray Observations:
- "Well, Chim-Chim, you three vine-swingers should be right at home."


- "I don't want to hear that 'I'm dying of heatstroke' excuse.  You want to cool down, cut your hair."

- "Morning wood ain't nothin' to be ashamed of!  It's how you know you're alive!"


- "You are the sack from which I come!"

- "Congratulations, Robert.  A 198-pound bouncing baby Negro.  They grow up so fast."


- "Shit, he seemed cool to me.  You know how some people you like right off the bat?  But yeah, fuck it, I say kill him."

- "Yeah, Huey said something like that, but I never listen to him."

- Slogan of Lawns by Lando:  I'LL GET YOUR SHIT RIGHT