TV Review: “Black Dynamite”, An Explosive and Worthy Continuation

Written by Guest August 03, 2012

“He’s outta sight…”

Blaxploitation is a genre that had a sizable African-American audience in the 1970s that tackled issues that Hollywood generally did not in an over-the-top and often crude fashion. The 2009 film “Black Dynamite” was one part a tribute to the genre and another part a snappy satire of the typically poorly produced and written nature of the movies.  Even if you are not familiar with the genre “Black Dynamite” was hilarious and sharp enough to keep you entertained. Due to its success the production team and cast pitched an animated TV-adaptation  to Adult Swim.

“Black Dynamite” the animated series airs Sunday’s at 11:30PM on the Cartoon Network. The series hosts the original film’s cast in voice roles including Michael Jai White (“The Dark Knight”), Tommy Davidson (“In Living Color”) and Kym Whitley (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”).  The original writers serve as producers to the series giving the characters and dialog a familiar tone that feels as organic as it did in the movie. The larger-than-life voices reflect the exaggerated nature of the blaxploitation genre while fitting perfectly in with the insanity of the animation.

Animation allows for much more freedom in plots which works for “Black Dynamite” in some ways. The original film had an outlandish plot that worked well in its own continuity with a simple gang shooting leading the hero Black Dynamite to get into a kung fu battle with President Richard Nixon. The animated series however goes even further beyond and in the case of the series premiere, into space. The first episode beyond last year’s leaked pilot, has Black Dynamite and friends uncovering the truth to The Jackson 5-era Michael Jackson’s origins. Having the young and cute Michael be the true antagonist in the families strife is an interesting twist of the true history that makes the conflict in the show fun to watch. Having Michael truly be a alien however raises eyebrows a few times throughout the episode. When “Black Dynamite” is grounded in some sense of reality the plot works fabulously but it is unable to stretch itself thin while keeping the quality high.

So much kung fu, you won’t know what to do!

“… He’s Black Dynamite!”

The actual animation is the best part of the show. It is done in a style similar to “The Boondocks” but with a great amount of focus to the groovy 1970s lifestyle. The animation is done by Chris Prynoski of Titmouse, Inc. who has done work for “Community”, “Guitar Hero” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. The anime-like animation is aesthetically pleasing and fluid and features plenty of excellent background jokes. When the show gets truly crazy with alien introductions, the cartoon drawings still shine and are fun to watch even when the plot is not.

The genre satire and tribute is not as focused as it is in the original movie but it is still present. Race relations are still brought to light in a playful way that does not seek to truly question the system but instead have fun with what the system provides. The show, like the movie, tries not to be offensive in its portrayals and instead brings light to the absurdity of race conflict and stereotypes. Even without a deep knowledge of blaxploitation movies or 1970s race relations “Black Dynamite” is still wildly entertaining and general enough in its style for the less-initiated to still enjoy it.

Adult Swims “Black Dynamite” series may be too absurd at times but it provides enough fun-packed entertainment to allow you to be able to overlook its flaws. The high-quality animation, voice-acting and dialog make the show a worthy addition to Adult Swims line-up of genre satires such as “Children’s Hospital”. Although not as good as the movie it is based on, “Black Dynamite” is a worthy continuation and provides a unique piece of television.

My Rating: 7/10

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