A great cult movie is not always a guarantee of a great spinoff adaptation. Things very obviously have to change for the new format and direction and it could easily go off the rails. The 2009 cult blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite was a hilarious mixture of 70s movie cliches and over-the-top action goofiness and it wasn’t such a stretch to think it could be a decent animated series. But, they couldn’t do the exact same type of humor – the boom mics in shot and weird jump cuts and the like – so it would have to take a different tact. That tact, it turns out, was to make it a super-stylized anime-inspired series with even weirder storylines involving space aliens and trips to the moon and porn stars getting targeted by both the Klan and the Black Panthers. Yeah, it’s still hilarious and still great.
Despite the change in visual style, courtesy of Carl Jones, the series still retains the perfect comedy timing and use of dialogue as the television show had. Michael Jai White returns to voice the titular pimp/crime-fighter/all-around badass and he’s joined by his trio of cohorts Bullhorn (co-creator and writer Byron Minns), Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson), and Honey Bee (Kym Whitley) on various incredibly bizarre adventures, usually involving real-life people and events from the 1970s. Take the episode where Black Dynamite goes to the moon at Christmas in order to prove to the kids in his Whorephanage (a sanctuary for both whores and orphans, naturally) that he can be just as likable and friendly as O.J. Simpson, the black person most white people like. Black Dynamite went to elementary school with O.J., you see, and always hated him. This is the kind of show we’re working with here.
Easily my favorite episode of the ten in Season One is actually the first episode on the disc entitled “Just Beat It or Jackson Five Across Yo’ Eyes.” In it, Black Dynamite is busy trying to fight ninjas when Cream Corn is meant to be there to drive them all away. Cream Corn is busy watching the Jackson 5 perform on Soul Train, and the set isn’t perfect, so you know what that means given history, right? Someone’s going to get a beat-down… except it’s the father, Joe Jackson who’s getting the beating from Michael. Joe attempt to shoot his son (who he says isn’t really his son) but Cream Corn intervenes and saves him, becoming young Michael’s new best friend. This doesn’t sit well with Black Dynamite who’s got better things to do than wait around all day for Cream Corn. But everything is not what it appears and Michael Jackson doesn’t like to be talked back to, which leads to a bruisin’. And, well, a bunch of other things happen and Black Dynamite eventually has to fight an army of alien Michael Jacksons. See?
The show is just wall-to-wall hysterical, very foul-mouthed (the Blu-ray does not bleep any of the words Adult Swim has to), and full of off-color humor that works whether you’re a fan of blaxploitation or not. Plus, the animation is absolutely gorgeous and stylized just the right amount to fit the tenor of the writing. Basically it’s a great show and you guys should watch it.
The Blu-ray contains a brief making-of (from when the series was first picked up all the way back in 2011), the original pilot episodes, and in-vision commentaries on a number of episodes. It’s well worth the pick-up, and I bet you’ll never get the theme song out of your head again.