27. Chef Aid

Chewy!

(Originally Aired, October 7 1998)

So after a number of not so ambitious yet hysterical (on the most part) episodes, we come to the series’ first and only attempt at a star-studded story.  South Park’s answer to Krusty Gets Kancelled perhaps, and probably the most famous of these earlier episodes, even if it’s not quite among the best in quality. Among the many guest stars playing themselves were Joe Strummer, Rancid, Ozzy Osbourne, Ween, Primus, Elton John, Meat Loaf, Rick James, and DMX.

First let’s look at what led to all these names being featured. Chef discovers that Alanis Morissette’s new song Stinky Britches (real artist, fictional song for those who don’t know) is a song that he wrote twenty years ago but never got recorded. He contacts the record company responsible for recording the song, merely seeking to have his name credited rather than receiving any of his rightful earnings. Sadly Mr. Big Record Producer turns out to be a colossal douche (“I am above the law”) and denies the blatant evidence supporting Chef’s case then hires Johnnie Cochran (not played by himself) and files a lawsuit against Chef for harassment. Cochran subsequently turns what ought to have been an easy win for Chef around by using his infamous Chewbacca Defence.

Yes as well as the all star line up mentioned above, this episode also has one of the series’ most famous satirical jokes in the Chewbacca Defence. The concept satirises Cochran’s closing argument defending O.J. Simpson during his murder trial back in 1995, where he states to the jury: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” in reference to an earlier point in the trial when prosecutor Christopher Darden asked Simpson to try on a bloody glove found at the murder scene and the glove turned out to be too small for Simpson to put on easily. In the South Park universe, Cochran used the Chewbacca defence during the O.J. case as he does here during Chef’s trial. He begins by stating that Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor, then stating that this statement (“does not make sense”), then continues to connect the senselessness of his own statement to the actual case, implying that it is equally senseless. And of course his final statement (“If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit”) directly lampoons “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”.

Hope that’s understood because that was an exhausting paragraph to write. With the jury left completely confused, Chef is found guilty and is forced to pay 2 million in expenses within 24 hours or face four years in prison. However, Mr. Big Record Producer immediately starts taking Chef’s belongings, confident that he’ll fail to raise the money in time. This prompts Chef to instead raise the money towards hiring Cochran for a retrial. While Chef whores himself out to the women of South Park to earn money, the boys having been shown the picture album of Chef during his musician days, travel around the world to seek out his old rock star friends. That’s where the guest star lineup come in, and it turns out they all owe their careers to his advice.

Their initial attempts at selling candy to Elton John, Meatloaf and Rick James only raised $95, which together with Chef’s $410,300 (no mean feat by any stretch, in fact he’d be a millionaire in a matter of days if he were a full time jigolo) wasn’t nearly enough to pay for Cochran’s legal fees and he is sent to jail where he shares a cell with Mr. Garrison. We’ll get to his story later by the way.

Fortunately Elton John and friends arrive in South Park for one last attempt at saving Chef, providing a much needed boost to the boy’s pitiful Chef Aid gig, staring Cartman’s German Dance. Fortunately Mr. Big Record Producer’s attempts at sabotaging the event only serves to drive Cochran into taking up Chef’s case for free. He again uses the Chewbacca defence to overturn the verdict and Chef finally gets to be credited for Stinky Britches.

As if that plot wasn’t enough to fill the episode, we also have the conclusion to Garrison’s Mr. Twig saga, having begun some six episodes ago. This subplot begins in the first scene where the boys mock Mr. Twig leaving Garrison pretty sore. Later, poor Mr. Twig falls victim to a series of assaults. First he’s left in a boiling pot leaving him with third degree burns, then Garrison finds him snapped in half. Of course photographic evidence shows that a jealous Mr. Hat is behind the attacks but before justice can prevail, Garrison is carted off to jail for being a lunatic, where he joins Chef. Mr. Hat soon turns up to save them, having somehow managed to drive a car through the wall in spite of his obvious limitations as a glove puppet, much to a bewildered Chef (“How the hell did he reach the gas pedal?”). Despite Mr. Hat saving him, Garrison is still insistent on sticking with Mr. Twig until he realises that he still loves Mr. Hat. Mr. Twig nobally steps aside and is thanked by simply being chucked away.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of the apparent nature of Garrison’s relationship with his puppets. We’re lead to believe before now and also during this episode when brought up by Chef, that Garrison hides his closet gay side behind Mr. Hat and that Mr. Twig is merely a replacement for Mr. Hat’s disappearance back in Summer Sucks, yet here it appears that Garrison is actually in some kind of weird sexual relationship with them. Yes I preferred the first theory, mainly because it’s a much smarter premise and it’s entirely plausible that he is a schizophrenic, while the latter is just wrong, even for Garrison.

Verdict?
As I hinted at earlier on, this episode is extremely similar both in it’s huge usage of celebrity guest stars and in the style of it’s plot to the Krusty Gets Kancelled episode of The Simpsons. Both feature much loved members of their respective town communities (although Chef isn’t a celebrity) having their career/livelihood saved by a star-studded show in their name. Although Johnnie Cochran and his Chewbacca Defence will always be one of my all time favourite gags in the series, the episode as a whole has never been among my favourites of the season. In fact I rarely see this episode featured among many fans list of favourite episodes, despite it’s fame and despite it even having an album based on it released. I nearly gave this an 8 but felt it was probably too generous. On the other hand 7 almost seems low given the effort that was clearly put into this one. Er, erm…. yeah I think 7/10 might be closer, just.

Tidbits and Quotes:

– I do like Kyle’s joke about Mr. Twig, (“He’d be better used as a coat rack”). Even funnier is the following shot of Mr. Garrison turning red in the face.

– Mr. Big Record Producer’s recurring gag is that, every-time he angrily shouts (“I am above the law”), his lock of hair falls forward which he then has to dab back into place with his Spooge gel.

– Love Dr. Doctor’s reaction to Garrison bringing Mr. Twig to the hospital following his stint in the boiling pot. (“….It’s a stick”). (“Don’t give me that medical …jargon, just tell me straight! Is he goin’ to be okay?!”).

– Cartman’s rant over Johnnie Cochran is equally silly. (“God-damned, I hate that Cochran guy. If he was here in front of me, I’d be like, Ay! You stupid son of a bitch, you d-. I b-. I’ma I’m gonna kick you in the nuts!”). (“I’m sure that would scare the hell out of him, Cartman”) replies Kyle.

– I won’t put up the Chewbacca defence here, it’s too long and it’s best to just watch it for yourself. Love the judge’s confused reaction though. (“Oh-kay then”).

– I believe this is the first time Chef’s real name is revealed. Jerome ‘Chef’ McElroy.

– Extremely dumb fake out here regarding the length of Chef’s sentence, but funny for that exact reason. Chef originally gets sentenced to 8 million years in prison until a bailiff corrects the judge. (“Oh. Sorry. You’ll go to jail for four years”).

– Great stuff with Chef faking that he feels better in order to stop Cartman from doing his German Dance. (“See? I told you guys it would work”).

(“AAAAA! MR. TWIG IS BROKEN IN HALF!!”).

– Also great is the comparisons between Elton John’s house and Cartman’s ass. (“Yeah, it’s bigger than Cartman’s ass!”) (“No it isn’t, you guys”).

– Love Elton John’s lyrics from before he met Chef. (“Oh oh, you’re my cheddar cheese girl
You’re soft but firm, and you go well with wine”). I also like the nice touch of Stan asking him to write a song for Wendy. (“Sure, kid. But I would retain exclusive worldwide rights, including but not limited to Asian territories, with a 20% commission from all domestic sales, and sole ownership of any and all publishing”).

– I’m still amazed at how much Chef actually made from whoring himself out in just one day. Love how his first client was Sheila Broflovski and then it turns out Gerald was in on it all along. (“How was it, honey?”) (“Pretty much what I expected”). It’s left up to the viewer to imagine what the deal was here. Then, next up is Ms. Crabtree, (“Now, all you do is put this paper bag over your head, and it increases your sexual pleasure”).

– Turns out Meatloaf’s original stage name was Cous-Cous, the hint in the flashback is that he changed it when Chef offers him some meatloaf while advising him on a name change.

– The scene with Chef and Garrison in jail together is basically a rehash of Garrison and Dr. Katz in Summer Sucks. Garrison is going on about his Twig vs. Hat saga until Chef suggests that they have both his personalities. (“…I warn you, Chef! Don’t even think of taking advantage of me in this prison cell!”).

– Love the brief shot of Mr. Mackey crowd surfing at Chef Aid.

– Great joke with Ozzy Osbourne’s reason for taking part in Chef Aid. (“Chef suggested I buy a pompadour hat. I thought he said, “bite the head off a bat,” so I did. And the rest, oh, it’s just history”). He then proceeds to bite Kenny’s head off.

– Then there is the band, Ween who say that Chef was the reason they did a country album. Only they then realise it was actually some guy called Steve’s idea. (“Oh, then. Who’s Chef?”) (“I don’t know, dude. I though you knew him”).

– Obvious How The Grinch Stole Christmas parody with Johnnie Cochran’s heart growing three times bigger.

– Finally, as mentioned before there was an album released in November 1998 based on the episode. It featured 21 songs, some being extended and unaired songs from this episode and previous episodes in the series, others being completely original to the album.

26. Cow Days

Who wouldn't enjoy this?

(Original Air Date, September 30 1998)

We return with another of these low key episodes which seem to be the trend for the mid portion of this season. Again, like with Summer Sucks and Club Houses, we have a fairly simple plot that runs more on the jokes rather than it’s actual content.

The central theme to this episode is South Park’s own annual holiday. Cow Days, the world’s 45th biggest rodeo and carnival. The main attraction of which is the running of the cows, an obvious spoof of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. The cows however are more interested in the new cow memorial, rather than chasing after those taking part in the run. They all become obsessed with the statue and drag it out of town, leaving the townsfolk furious when they find that it’s missing.

Now this part of the episode is easily the weaker part. It basically just repeats itself with shots of the cows staring at the memorial until the end of the episode where they are finally found. At which point they take their own lives believing their ‘cult’ to be over, making their lives not worth living anymore. I found this to be a bit to daft to be funny like I think it was intended. The only worthwhile part of this arc were that poor couple, Tom and Mary who got sent here as a prize for winning a game show. They end up getting the blame for the missing statue just for being ‘outsiders’ and are subsequently arrested and then forgotten about and left to die from starvation. Morbid, but hilarious because only someone as incompetent as Officer Barbrady could allow something so avoidable to happen.

Okay onto the good side of the episode. This subplot follows the boys quest to win some Terrence and Phillip dolls. Sadly for them, standing in their way is a questionable game operator who tries his best to make his game as hard as possible to win. We’ve all come across carnival games that seem impossible to win, games where the sole aim is to screw visitors out of their money. It’s only when Officer Barbrady answers a call of  ‘shenanigans’, that the operator provides a ball that’s actually small enough to fit through Jennifer Love Hewitt’s mouth (and yes the euphemisms are very much intentional and repeated all the way through the episode). Unfortunately the operator then claims that they have to win seven times to win the dolls.

Of course it also doesn’t help when you have a fat-ass friend who insists on spending all the money on such lame rides including the Chamber of Farts and of course the Line Ride, a real live simulator of a long line. Cartman even has to buy the photo of them standing in the line ride. As punishment, Cartman is forced to enter the bull riding contest in order to win $5000 towards more attempts at the game. This leads to what is probably the most memorable part of the episode. While practising on a Rancher’s bull, Cartman is knocked out and given head trauma which causes him to believes that he is a Vietnamese prostitute named Ming Li.

Despite Cartman’s condition, he manages to stay on the bull long enough to win the $5000. Only for the boys to fall for the operator’s offer of simply trading the dolls for the money. At least they seemed happy enough to spend all that money on those dolls until they discover that they really are cheap knock offs. Another call of Shenanigans is made which tends to the whole town beating the carnival people up with brooms.

Verdict?
As I said before, this episode relies on the jokes rather than a strong plot, but when said jokes are as consistently funny as they are here, then that is far from a bad thing. Besides like in Clubhouses it’s fun to watch the boys deal with a fairly normal situation. Something which becomes extremely rare in more recent episodes.  Having said that, the episode doesn’t really gain much from the cow cult plot. I’d have just left that with the Running of the Cows scene. Still another solid if overlooked episode from Season 2. 8/10

Tidbits and Quotes:

– The opening scene featuring the game show that Tom and Mary win is a great way to introduce the theme of the episode. Of course the couple’s series of misfortune kicks off when instead of somewhere exotic like Hawaii or Tahiti as they’d hoped, they win a trip to South Park instead. (“What was the second prize again?”).

– I just love how obvious it is that the Terrence and Phillip dolls are cheap rip-offs. Even with forged and misspelled signitures from T and P themselves as the operator would have you believe.

– The euphemism that is the Jennifer Love Hewitt ball game (“You just gotta put one ball through Jennifer Love Hewitt’s mouth”) is so obvious and milked out that it really shouldn’t be funny. And yet for reasons I don’t understand, it doesn’t get old. Probably because everyone involved says them so obliviously, like they don’t realise that there’s even a joke there. My personal favourite has to be (“This game is fixed! The balls are bigger than Jennifer Love Hewitt’s mouth!”).

– Great stuff with the Running of the Cows. Again an obvious parody of the Running of the Bulls. Replacing the bulls with cows eliminates any of the danger for those taking part, yet thank’s to their own stupidity, fatalities among competitors remain prominent. We see a townsman impale himself on a shattered phone pole because he was concentrating on the cows behind him rather than look at where he’s going. Another guy attempts to taunt one of the cows, then runs away screaming despite the cow just ignoring him.

– Then we have the awful carnival rides that Cartman drags his friends on. First the Chamber of Farts. Completely underwhelming even when considering it’s just a ride where you get farted on. (“So, the Chamber of Farts has another victim, eh? Don’t be afraid. There aren’t any ghouls here, only FARTS!”). Then even dumber is the Line Ride. Another of those brilliant why jokes. As in who on earth would come up with a simulator of a long line as a ride? And how on earth did so many people seem to fall for this? The icing on the cake is they even sell photos of you on the ride. Kyle sums it up perfectly. (“Well, Cartman, this is just my opinion, but I think the Line Ride sucked donkey balls!”).

– The whole Shenanigans scenes is brilliant too. Love Barbrady’s initial response to Kyle’s claim. (“If that is true, then your declaration of Shenanigans is just”). Then after the operator manages to worm his way out of trouble, (“Young man, you can’t just go declaring Shenanigans on innocent people! That’s how wars get started!”), (“Sorry Officer Buttbaby”), (”Barbrady!”), (“What did I say?”), (“You said Buttbaby”). Hehe… Buttbaby.

– As if having to win seven times for the dolls wasn’t a big enough ripoff, (essentially $15 at the very least), the prize received for winning once is a toothpick. A Bon Jovi toothpick, that is.

– More great stuff involving the rancher bull that Cartman practises on. To get him bucking, Kyle lobs a snowball at its testicles. The visual of this is hilarious. Also love Kenny’s claim of (“Oh my God, they’ve killed Cartman!”) after he is knocked out, only to be immediately shot down.

– Tom and Mary’s insistence on remaining positive through their ordeals makes their eventually sticky end even more tragic. They are immediately blamed for stealing the statue and locked away in jail before anyone even comes up with any evidence against them. (“At least we get some time alone”). (“Yeah, and at least we’ve got our health”).

– The things that Cartman comes out with as Ming Li are classic. He’s not even an expensive whore, (“Sucky-sucky, five dollar”). We even get to see him attempt to attract some clientèle. (“Hello? Soldier boy. Me so horny. Me love you long time”). (“Go away, kid. You’re grossing me out”). Also great are the bull riding contest announcer’s commentary. (“Wow, and this Vietnamese prostitute can really ride a bull! I guess she’s had a lot of practice, if you know what I mean”).

– Kenny dies during Cartman’s attempt at the bull riding contest. He gets impaled on the bull’s horn. Kind of saw that one coming I have to say.

– Tom and Mary’s sorry story comes to an end as Barbrady and Mayor McDaniels find their remains rotting away in their cell. (“Oh my God! Officer Barbrady, ugh, you never had Tom and Mary in this cell. In fact, they never came to South Park. We’ve never heard of them”).  (“Ooh, phew, I feel a lot better, then, although I could’ve swore that I had heard of them and they starved to death in my prison”).

– Brilliant ending scene. Cartman is finally back to normal and recalls a dream. (“I dreamt that I was a poor Vietnamese girl, and then you guys made me ride a big, scary bull, and then Leonardo Di Caprio gave me a spankin’ for several hours. Eeyy, where did you guys win all those Terrance and Phillip dolls?”). He eventually realises that all of what he said really did happen and then Leonardo Di Caprio’s limousine parks up. (“Bye, Ming Li. Thanks again”).

This Isn’t Dead Yet!

I know this has been completely neglected so far this year. I’ve had a couple of other projects taking precedence over this since New Year’s but thankfully I’ll be able to return this coming weekend, if not before with the rest of Season 2. Hopefully at somewhere near the speed of  Me Blog Write Good.

I have already watched the next episode Cow Days, I will say now another early gem for the season.

I’m also considering doing some kind of feature between Season 2 and 3. You’ll find out what then.

Thanks to those of you that have somehow stuck with this. Look forward to your comments.

 

25. Clubhouses

So just where did Kenny find these girls?

(Originally Aired, September 23 1998)

This is another episode which I’ll find difficult to analyse, it continues the streak of ‘bunch of stuff that happened’, only unlike the last two, it’s crammed full of memorable and hilarious lines. Much like Summer Sucks did.

The plot remains incredibly simple and rooted to the ground this time, which is precisely what I love about these earlier episodes, they remain relatable. Stan and Kyle want to build a clubhouse so that they can play truth or dare with Wendy and Bebe. Stan wants the opportunity to be dared to kiss Wendy while Bebe wants to do the same with a reluctant Kyle, who is still against the idea of playing with girls. Cartman soon finds out and immediately sets about building his own with Kenny who he forces to do all of the work.

Meanwhile, Stan’s parents’ marriage begins to break down. Randy and Sharon divorce due to constant bickering despite Mr. Mackey’s attempts at marriage counseling. Sharon does not seem to dwell on the break-up too long, however, and introduces Stan to a new stepfather, Roy (brilliant one-off character by the way), who promptly moves into the family home. At first, Roy seems a nice and understanding stepfather, but mere seconds later throws a strop when Stan merely points out that things are moving too fast, then repeatedly asks him to chop firewood. Meanwhile Randy enjoys the single life, driving a red Corvette and flirting with girls at traffic lights.

Roy’s interruptions and Randy’s visiting hours allow Cartman and Kenny to finish their clubhouse first and Kenny manages to bring back two 16-year-old girls who had run away from home. However all they want to do is complain about their parents and host parties for their friends with no interest in playing Truth or Dare.

Stan and Kyle eventually finish their poorly made clubhouse and after receiving some expert tips from Chef, Stan is ready to play Truth or Dare. After their first attempt to play is thwarted by Roy asking for yet more firewood, Bebe eventually gets dared to kiss Kyle, who immediately runs off while Stan only gets dared to (“Take this twig and jam it up your peehole”). Mission failed.

Stan eventually wins out in the end though, thanks to his plan to get his parents back together. He sets them up to meet in his clubhouse which leads to Sharon daring Randy to (“Do me, right here in this clubhouse”). Roy is also dealt with as he winds up hanging from the tree in a bear trap.

Verdict?
As I said earlier, like with Summer Sucks this episode is filled full of great jokes and is generally a good old-fashioned South Park styled, fun-filled episode. No need for complicated, satirical plotlines when it’s just fun to watch the boys play in normal, relatable circumstances. It’s doesn’t quite reach the heights of Summer Sucks though so this one makes a still excellent 9/10.

Tidbits and Quotes:

Love the opening bit with the boys playing a role play game. Cartman is a Bosnian guard patrolling the school playground while Stan, Kyle and Kenny are American soldiers trying to get past Cartman to their base. Of course Cartman cheats by claiming to have special armour, that’s impenetrable to American bullets. Stan and Kyle protest and tell Cartman he can just play by himself. Cartman replies, (“That’s fine! I’d like playing with myself! I’ll play with myself all day long!”), much to Kenny’s amusement.

– Bebe’s reason for having a crush on Kyle. (“He’s got such a hot ass”). She even asks him to turn around for a second so that she can have a look.

– Can’t believe I forgot about the Fat Abbott Show, a clear spoof on Fat Albert and absolutely one of the best things in the entire series. Sharon makes Stan watch it instead of Terrance and Phillip only it turns out to have even more profanity than T and P. The boys immediately become fans. Oh before this there’s also Randy enjoying T and P right before the boys walk in. (“I was just uh flipping through the channels”). 

– Love Cartman and Kenny’s clubhouse, built from the ‘Ewok Village 2000 Deluxe Club House Kit with Elevator’. Then we have Kenny protesting over having to do all of the work. Cartman’s reason, (“Because, Kenny, your family’s poor! You have to be the worker!”). I think this is also the first time we have Cartman attempting to manipulate his mother into things.  (“Moooom? Can we pull up the carpeting in the living room?”), (“Well, I don’t know, Eric. If you did that, then the floors would be bare”). (“But Mmmom, the blueprint says we need carpeting in the clubhouse!”).

– Then there’s a stressed out Sharon having a go at Stan for innocently wanting a cookie. (“You men are all alike! First you get a cookie and then you criticize the way I dress and then it’s the way I cook! I suppose next you’ll be telling me that you need your space and that I’m sabotaging your creativity. Go ahead, Stanley. Get your God-damned cookie!”).

– We finally get a bit of progress with the Mr. Twig story-arc. Kyle asks Mr. Garrison when Mr. Hat is coming back. Garrison angrily responds, (“I told you to never mention that name in my classroom again! Mr. Hat is a two-timin’ whore! And now we all learn from Mr. Twig!”).

– Also love how Stan gets caught with the note from Bebe to Kyle. He is forced to read it out to the whole class,

Dear Kyle.

You have got such a great ass. I could sleep for days on those perked cheeks, let me tell you. I’d like to live with you and wear your ass as a hat for all eternity.

– We get to hear Butters talk for the very first time in this scene as he passes the note along. He still isn’t named at this point though.

– I love how Stan’s telling off in Mr. Mackey’s office gradually becomes a marriage guidance session for his parents. Stan ends up getting ignored and he sneaks out. Clearly the guidance fails them though as next time we see them, they are divorced.

– Love Cartman lecturing Kenny when he doesn’t want to go and round up girls. (“Because I have to stay here and work! I still have to shingle the roof, test the foundation, run all kinds of expenses. I’ve got way too much to do, and all you have to do is to go find chicks! Now, stop your bitchin!”). After which he just goes off and watches Fat Abbott.

– I love the little detail that Stan states that his mother won’t let him use nails, yet despite this they are able to finish their clubhouse.

– I also love Chef’s Truth or Dare advice, (“You have to say “Truth” the first few times. Or else, you seem too eager”). Then there’s the way he tells Stan to say dare. (“Daaare”). Even funnier when Stan does it during the game. Then there’s his final tip, (“They’re women. They’ve had this whole thing planned out months ahead of time”).

– Again, Roy is a great one-off character. He starts off calmly telling Stan he can count on him for advice at any time only to completely flip out when Stan comments that things are happening way too fast. (“Oh, Jesus! When are you gonna cut me some slack, huh?! I have taken you under my wing and done my best, and all you ever do is whine and moan about it! Now, for the last time, go cut some firewood!”). 

– Love Cartman attempting to impress the teenage girls that Kenny found by telling them about his own arguments with his mother. (“I had the same thing with my mom the other day. I’m all like, “Ey! I am not a little kid anymore! Ma, I’m eight years old! And if I wanna fingerpaint, then I’m gona fingerpaint!”).

– Next we have Bebe ‘breaking up’ with Kyle who had no idea they were in a relationship, after their kiss. She then walks off with her new interest, Clyde.

– Love Kenny’s death in this one. He’s crushed by a group of teens moshing during the clubhouse party. Cartman fills in Stan’s usual (“Oh my God, they killed Kenny!”) while Kyle who just happens to be passing by outside yells (“You bastard!”).

24. Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods

Looks about as happy as I was with this episode.

(Originally Aired, September 2 1998)

I’m going to have to confess here, I wasn’t looking forward to watching this episode. I always remembered it as the weakest of this season and even among the worst of the series but during this run there have been a number of episodes that have managed to grow on me now that I have revisited them so surely even this one could have the same effect? Let’s find out.

Mr. Garrison takes the class on a field trip to the local planetarium. The children naturally are dreading the thought of having to sit and watch start constellations, except after the visit they find themselves itching to go again. Almost immediately you know something about the place just isn’t right from the point Dr. Adams introduces one of the volunteer workers. Her eyes are clearly glazed over and she repeatedly mutters (“I love my work”).

Now I’d like to talk about the episode title, Robert Ebert Should Lay off the Fatty Foods. This may just be the point of a joke Matt and Trey made but this episode has nothing to do with the title. In fact Roger Ebert is only seen as one of the star constellations at the planetarium. It’s really not a big deal but I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Things get weirder on the trip back as one of the workers sneaks back with them having escaped the planetarium. He is clearly disturbed and twitchy and it appears he is just wearing off the effects of a brain washing. Garrison brings him to the nurse’s office where Mr. Mackey uses a ‘mind meld’ technique in an attempt to extract information from the kid’s mind. It turns out Dr. Adams has been using a mind control device on anyone that visits the planetarium and make them into slaves to ensure its survival. Now here’s something I had forgotten about in these scenes, Nurse Gollem, the conjoined fetus lady makes a second appearance alongside Mackey. I’m sure she never shows up again after this episode though. Meanwhile, Stan and Kyle have managed to uncover the hidden mind control device and bring in Officer Barbrady to investigate only for him to be brainwashed by Dr. Adams making him think he’s Elvis Pressley. Mackey and Gollem also arrive at the scene where Barbrady captures and ties them down onto the machine along with the boys. It seems that they are all doomed into joining the other slaves at the planetarium.

Cartman meanwhile, who sneaked off halfway through the first visit to the planetarium provides the episode’s subplot. He finds a Cheesy Poofs truck outside, auditioning kids to sing their jingle on their next TV advertisement. Despite Cartman being a terrible singer, he ends up being selected to sing it on TV since all of the other contestants had been brainwashed by the planetarium. Unfortunately, Cartman was so bad that only the final word of his performance was used in the commercial. This was still enough to make Cartman happy until he realised none of his friends watched his television debut since they had been brainwashed. He ends up accidentally saving the day when he bursts in on the planetarium right as Mackey, Gollem and the boys are about to be brainwashed. While throwing a tantrum he kicks the device which causes Dr. Adams to be hit be the machines rays, erasing his mind. I do enjoy the irony here of Cartman being the one to thwart Adams’ plans here, since it’s only because of them eliminating the competition that he even got to be on TV.

Verdict?
Well sadly revisiting this episode didn’t put it in much of a better light for me this time. For the first time I found myself just waiting for it to end. I don’t quite know what it is about this outing that doesn’t keep me interested throughout. Like with Robert Redford in Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls, Dr. Adams motives were as dumb as they were petty but there simply wasn’t enough substance or jokes behind the plot here to make up for it. It also didn’t help that this wasn’t part of a hilarious satire, merely just another ‘bunch of stuff that happened’ episode. Cartman’s subplot had potential to be good but that too was rather unsatisfying. Yes this was the first episode which I can say; sort of sucked. It’s not horrible, just tediously mediocre and though there were still a few great moments, that just wasn’t not enough to save it. A disappointing 5/10.

Tidbits and Quotes:

– This episode is a spoof of the Star Trek episode Dagger of the Mind. I’ve never once watched Star Trek so I can’t really comment on any similarities here. Perhaps that’s part of why I don’t enjoy this one so much.

– We get some more great Ms. Crabtree scenes on the way to the planetarium. She shows Mr. Garrison how settling the children down is done. (“THAT AIN’T HOW YOU DO IT! YOU DO IT LIKE THIS: SITDOWN AND SHUT UP!!”). Even Garrison is terrified. She then slams the brakes on when they arrive sending them all flying out of their seats. (“THIS IS THE PLANETARIUM. WATCH YOUR STEP ON THE WAY DOWN SO AS NOT TO HURT YOURSELF!”).

– Love this quote from Garrison. (“Okay, children, now I’m going to remind you that this is a planetarium, not a Bangkok brothel. Let’s behave ourselves”). Do we even want to think about what Garrison does when he goes to Bangkok?

– Probably the most prominent gag of the episode. Dr. Adams has a bone marrow disease which prevents him from pronouncing ‘t’s. (“Welcome to the plane’arium”). It gets kind of annoying but it becomes funny since they stick with it through the whole episode.

– The van Gelder kid that ran away from the planetarium kind of feels like a template for Tweek, the hyper active kid introduced a few episodes from now. They have the same twitchy behaviour. I like how Mr. Mackey initial thinks he’s on drugs. (“Have you been smokin’ marijawana? Marijawana’s bad, mkay?”).

– Oh the best scene in this episode is probably Garrison teaching the class about haikus. Love Kyle’s first example:
Fatass Cartman was
not on the school bus today.
What a big, fat turd.

Then Kenny’s muffled example:
When you rub your dick,
you might find a discharge that
winds up on the floor.

Then when Cartman brags about his certificate for making the regional finals for the role in the Cheesy Poofs advert, Kyle comes up with another two.
Ass full of pork fat
jiggles like a Jello mold.
Mouth is flapping, too.

I bet you don’t win.
They don’t let big fat asses
perform on TV.

Finally here is Cartman’s failed attempt at a response. One too many syllables in the final line.
Shut your God-damned mouth
or else I’m gonna kick you
square in the balls ass-hole.

– Another running joke is Cartman’s Mom telling her son off for picking his nose. (“I wasn’t picking it-I had an itch, for cryin’ out loud!”).

I love the tragicness of one of Cartman’s opponents in the auditions. (“Do you think I might win, Mommy?”). (“I hope so honey, Then perhaps we can eat for a little while”). Of course this doesn’t stop Cartman from luring them away by telling them that there’s free bread being given away outside. (“Come on! Perhaps we can get some food in our stomachs!”). It’s so cruel but so funny.

This episode does at least have a decent Kenny death. Stan and Kyle are testing the mind control device on Kenny, only to cause Kenny to violently explode when they put it on its maximum setting. (“Oh my God, we’ve killed Kenny!”). (“We’re bastards!”).

– I forgot that this was the episode with that boy who sings Bingo. He fills in every letter except for ‘O’ with a clap then switches to leaving in ‘ING’ in the second verse. It’s another joke that’s funny because its so annoying.

– Oh this leads to Cartman’s audition song. It’s pretty fucked up to say the least. He sings this while ripping off his jacket to reveal a sky blue sequined vest and bowtie halfway through.
She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money, so you’d better treat her right.
I love the judges response. (“Well, Eric Cartman, that certainly was… insane”).

– Another of the strangely named reporter jokes. (“It appears that more and more South Park residents are discovering the wonder and joy of the planetarium. Here with a special report is a 34-year old Asian man who looks strikingly similar to Ricardo Montalban”).

– I love how oblivious Barbrady is to all of the clearly brainwashed workers at the planetarium. Even Chef has been taken in to whom Barbrady says (“Well, it’s nice to see you finally got a real job, Chef”). Despite this Dr. Adams still thinks he’s a threat and brainwashes him into thinking he’s Elvis. (“You see, children? There’s no stopping me. Even your highly intelligent policemen are no match for me”).

– We get to see Cartman’s grandma for the first time when he calls her to make sure she watches the commercial. As soon as he feels she gets the message he hangs up, just as she begins to ramble on about her own audition experiences as a kid.

– Love how Mackey reckons that Barbrady is Charlton Heston rather than Elvis. Then of course there is Barbrady himself talking like Elvis. (“If you wouldn’t mind, uugh. Could you please follow me?”). Finally Mackey attempts to snap him out of it. (“Think hard, Elvis. You’re not really the king of rock and roll. You’re a fat, stupid, worthless policeman in a small town. Mkay?”).

– Finally I love how Ms. Cartman just appears out of nowhere at the end to again tell Cartman not to pick his nose. (“God damnit, Mom, I wasn’t pickin’ it! I have an itch!”).

 

23. Chickenpox

It's all fun and games until someone drowns in calemine lotion.

(Originally Aired, August 26 1998)

The second half of Season 2 is filled with episodes that are really not a lot more than ‘bunch of stuff that happened’ episodes. Although these on the most part are still great to watch in their own right, they simply aren’t as memorable as the more zanier out there episodes. All South Park fans know of episodes like Pinkeye or Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut or even more infamous episodes like Not Without My Anus. But who really has the episode where the boys get chickenpox (or chicken herpes) as among their favourites? That’s not to say this one among others like it aren’t up to par, it just falls into obscurity compared with the more famous episodes.

We begin with Stan’s sister Shelley in hospital with chickenpox. After Dr. Doctor tells the Marshes that chickenpox is much worse when they are older, they round-up the other boys’ parents in order to try to get them infected with the disease while they are still young. This leads to our first proper look at Kenny’s family and their house as the parents arrange for the boys to have a sleepover there as Kenny currently has chickenpox. Naturally the boys are reluctant to stay there due to the poor living conditions. (“No way, dude. Kenny’s family’s poor; they live in the ghetto”).

As they walk to Kenny’s house, Cartman provides us with what is probably the most memorable part of the episode by singing Elvis Presley’s In The Ghetto. The entire scene at the McCormicks has to be the best portion of the episode. We get a number of gags on poor people, the house is crawling with rats and they only have a ColecoVision plugged into the back of their black and white television. Most notably there is the strained relationship between Kenny’s parents. Mrs. McCormick is clearly frustrated at having to eat frozen waffles for dinner every night and takes this out on her husband for lacking ambition. We also get our first look at Kenny’s room, he has two posters of bikini-clad women and one of a 4X4 monster truck. His curtains are in tatters and his dresser drawer is actually a battered suitcase. However for some reason he has a clapper to turn the lights out.

The scenes at Kenny’s also starts off the sub-plot, we find out that Stuart McCormick and Gerald Broflovski used to be best friends in their childhood. That is until Gerald went to college and became an attorney while Stuart remained in South Park now living in the fort that they built in his mother’s yard, leaving him to resent Gerald and his more well off lifestyle. Upon hearing of this, Sheila sets up a fishing trip for them. A bad idea as Stuart’s jealousy gets the better of him and the two of them end up fighting. This story ties in nicely with the main plot as both were based on scenarios that were set up, only to backfire once the plan was found out.

Eventually Kyle who wasn’t infected by Kenny’s chickenpox uncovers the plan when he over hears Sheila talking about trying to get Kyle infected by repeatedly sending him to Kenny’s house. Believing that the parents want to kill them, he rounds up the others to plan revenge. Now throughout the episode we have had the running joke of the boys thinking that chickenpox is herpes after Dr. Doctor stated that it was a form of the disease. This has led to the disease being referenced by the boys as the ‘chicken herpes’ and this plays an important part in their revenge. In order to find out how to give someone herpes, they turn to Chef who tells them that they can get it by sharing relations with someone who already has it. Then he irresponsibly tells them about Frida, a hooker with a mouthful of herpes. The boys then go to find Frida who charges them five dollars to infect their parents, leading to a montage of the various ways Frida infects them. (Brushing her teeth with the Marshes’ toothbrushes, using Sheila’s lipstick and finally rubbing her face in Liane Cartman’s panties).

I’m not such a big fan of this ending, mainly because I usually don’t like montages but also because the parents upon finding out that the boys caused them to get herpes just immediately admit they were wrong about trying to get them infected with chickenpox. They don’t even get angry over the fact that they gave them a more serious infection as revenge for a plan that did have their best intentions at heart. Instead all they do is laugh it off then run the credits with that annoying I’m A Believer song from the montage playing again. Urgh, I guess this was put in with comedic effect in mind but it just didn’t gel well with me.

Verdict?
After a succession of hilarious, memorable episodes this one was merely good rather than great and if I remember the next handful of outings are of the same good but not memorable quality. This had been heading for an 8 until that contrived ending plus annoying montage. And montages automatically drag an episode down as far as I’m concerned. All in all a still respectable 7/10.

Tidbits and Quotes:

– The parents aren’t exactly subtle in hiding their plan to get the boys infected with Kenny’s chickenpox. First they are way too insistent on them staying at his house so right from the start they are vaguely suspicious that something is up. Then the McCormicks very nearly give the game away right in front of them when Stuart initially forgets the plan. I also love how Kenny is against playing with his friends because he really is sick.

– Just like in the end scene of Starvin Marvin, we have a not so subtly sarcastic prayer to God by Stuart. “(Lord, we thank you for this staggering payload of frozen waffles you have bestowed upon us. And since we have been faithful to you, we know that you will send us some good fortune one of these days, even though you sure as hell seem to be taking your sweet time. Amen)”. Just as tragic I find is the way Kenny’s brother is so excited over getting his waffle. (“Now Kevin, we ain’t got enough for everybody. You have to split that with your brother”).

– Of course there is also Cartman’s complete contempt over the McCormick’s poor life style. (“What kind of side dishes will we be enjoying this evening with our frozen waffles?…… Am I to understand there will be no side dishes?”). Then when he swears, Stuart responds with (“Ey! We don’t say ‘fuck’ at the table, you little asshole!”). Cartman then quietly says to himself (“Heh, we apparently don’t say ‘side dishes’ at the table, either”).

– Then there are the boy’s sleeping bags. Stan and Kyle each have Terrance and Phillip sleeping bags while Cartman has an  Urkel bag. Now I never actually heard of Urkel but that image on Cartman’s sleeping bag is pretty damn creepy.

– I also love how they all react differently from their stay at Kenny’s. While Kyle remains uninfected and is forced to stay at Kenny’s every night until he does, Stan ends up having to join his sister in hospital while Cartman winds up addicted to calemine lotion when he finds it stops his chickenpox from itching (“More calamine lotion!”). He even bathes in an entire bathtub of it. (“Ooohhh yyess, seriiously, it calms yer ass. Yeessss!”).

– We also have Gerald’s ‘Gods and Clods’ speech when Kyle asks why they don’t donate food to the McCormicks. (“You see, Kyle, we humans work as a society, and in order for a society to thrive, we need gods, and clods. Yes. You see, I spent a lot of time going to law school, and I was able to go because I have a slightly higher intellect than others. But I still need people to pump my gas, and make my French fries, and fix my laundry machine when it breaks down. That’s right. So Kenny’s family is happy just the way they are, and we’re all a functioning part of America”). This leads to Kyle suggesting that all of the poor people should be put into camps which would eliminate poverty in his ‘How Would I Make America Better’ assignment.

– Plenty of good quotes from Stuart and Gerald’s fishing trip. (“What a great Saturday morning-aren’t weekends just the best?”) says Gerald. Stuart sadly responds, (“When you’re unemployed, weekends are meaningless”). Then there is the conversation about the fort that they built as children. (“Whatever happened to that old hunk o’ junk?”), (“That’s where I live now”).

– Also love how Mr. Garrison is teaching Kyle, the only kid still in class about how to tell a policeman and a prostitute apart. Garrison then goes and sends all the sick children the ‘How I Would Make America Better’ assignment to do. Stan’s response, (“That son of a bitch! What kind of sick weirdo is he?”). Then we are briefly shown what each of the boys write about. Kyle has his get rid of the clods plan, Stan writes about how Knight Rider is the best show in America, while Cartman wants America to be more like Endor, writing this while in his bath of calemine lotion.

– Oh I forgot this was the episode where Terrance and Phillip go into anal surgery when Phillip gets cancer, up his ass. Terrance decides to donate half his ass for his friend. (“Can you believe it, Phillip? Best friends, and now we’re going to share the same ass”). We also find out that Chef is a fan of the show.

– I love Chef’s realisation that his advice of having the boys see Frida the prostitute in order to give their parents herpes wasn’t such a good idea. (“Wait a minute. What the hell did I just do?”).

– Kenny dies right at the very end while everyone is laughing about the whole herpes prank, predictably from his chickenpox. The sad part is after a brief pause, everyone goes right back to laughing, even his parents! Poor Kenny.

 

22. Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls

Why aren't Chef's snacks real?

(Originally Aired, August 19 1998)

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have often proved that they are not above using their series as a basis for revenge. This episode is one of the earliest examples, aimed as revenge for the Sundance Film Festival not accepting their film, Cannibal the Musical back in 1994. While this does come across as pure sour grapes on Matt and Trey’s part, this episode tackles the subject of the effect of film festivals in a hilarious enough way that we are willing to overlook that. Afterall film festivals and Hollywood types in general provide plenty of fodder for satire. unsurprisingly Robert Redford, the ringleader of the festival was less than amused with his unflattering portrayal in the episode.

Robert Redford has relocated the Sundance Film Festival to South Park after the old location, Park City, Utah becomes too overrun with Hollywood pretension. At first the residents are overjoyed at the attention, but soon see the downside of the influx of stars and tourists expecting to be able to ‘become one with the more simple culture’. Meanwhile, Kyle discovers that Mr. Hankey, who lives in the sewers during the year, is in poor condition due to his ecosystem taking a hit from all the couscous and tofu the Hollywood visitors eat. Kyle’s pleas to Redford to move the festival elsewhere but this only succeeds in some producers taking his story as a movie pitch.

The reasons behind Redford’s sinister plan behind relocating the festival from town to town are just so dumb and petty that it makes his eventual erm… death by faeces at the hand’s of Mr. Hankey rather fitting. (“Because we have to live in L.A. And if we can’t live in quiet, simple, peaceful mountain towns, then nobody will!”). 

Of course this episode is most known for Chef’s new chocolate snack made especially for the festival, from which this episode takes it’s name. The jingle that he sang to help sell his chocolate salty balls quickly became among the most famous of Chef’s songs, probably thanks mainly to the many suggestive phrasings throughout the episode. His balls eventually play an important role in driving the festival out of town by bringing Mr. Hankey back from the brink of death and allowing him to take his rather interesting take of revenge on Redford and his crew.

We also have a couple of small sub-plots. First we have Stan attending many of the independent film showings with Wendy with the ambition of getting to hold her hand. Of course when he does eventually succeed, he ends up throwing up on the poor guy sitting in front. Meanwhile Cartman makes a ‘big-money deal’ with a director by selling Kyle’s ‘movie pitch’. Predictably he ends up getting conned as the director gives him his two million dollar cut, (“minus your agent’s fee, minus your lawyer’s fee, minus my fee, and the publicity and taxes taken out”), leaving him with just three dollars. In spite of this Cartman still feels this puts him above hanging out with his friends, closing the episode with this great line. (“Being a sellout is sweet. Because you make a lot of money. And when you have money, you don’t have to hang out with any poor-ass losers- like you guys. Screw you guys, I’ma goin’ home”).

Verdict?
Another underrated gem from Season 2. It manages to be a great satire on the effects of film festivals on small towns while having enough hilariously silly gags and plot points to have us laughing all the way through.  It’s not quite as brilliant as Summer Sucks in my opinion but still well among the early classics. 9/10

Tidbits and Quotes:

– First off, I love how all those crowds of people immediately show up as soon as the South Park film festival flag is raised.

– Our first lesson with Mr. Twig is seen early on when he and Mr. Garrison tell the class about the festival and the concept of independent films. Stan misunderstands him, (“Like Independence Day? That sucked ass, too”). Cartman corrects him with this ridiculous claim, (“Independent films are those black and white hippie movies. They’re always about gay cowboys eating pudding”). Of course one of the films that Stan and Wendy later go to see consists of exactly that.

– We get another great variation of Cartman defending his size during his argument with Wendy. (“I’m not fat! I just haven’t grown into my body yet, skinny bitch!”). I love how he absolutely cannot resist calling Wendy a bitch one more time even after Garrison threatens to send him to the Principal.

– Next we get to Chef’s brilliantly named cookies. First, ‘Fudge Ems’, little cookies with fudge in the middle. Then the double chocolate cookies, ‘Fudge This’. Finally there are the low-calorie cookies, ‘Go Fudge Yourself’ and the all-natural, ‘I Don’t Really Give A Flying Fudge’. Sadly this is all overlooked by the pretentious city folk who are all expecting tofu and  steamed celery and other awful pretentious food. As a country dweller myself, I found this all the more funny, because we are all ‘at one with nature’, or so city folk assume. Finally I love the totally patronising compliment on how cute the sign is.

– I love how dramatic Kyle and Cartman get when Wendy drags Stan off to a movie. (“She’ll be the death of him, Kyle. Mark my words: she’ll be the death of him”). (“If she holds his hand in that theatre it’ll be all over”). Oh we also have Chef’s new line of cookies, ‘I Just Went And Fudged Your Mamma’. (“Jesus, he sure ran that one into the ground”).

–  Love Stan’s horror over the explicit scenes from ‘Witness to Denial’, as if the dialogue of the film isn’t cringe-worthy enough. (“Who are you to judge my womanly soul? The Goddess flames that burn in my memory aren’t dark. Dare you callthem dark! Here lies the Goddess truth of my body”).

– Anyone else find it funny that Kyle sings on the toilet?

– Fred Savage gets almost as much brutal treatment in this episode as Robert Redford. We have him show up as the first celebrity guest, much to the crowd’s huge disapointment. (“Well, I’m sure a real person will show up soon”). He even wears a T-shirt saying, ‘I’m Fred Savage’.

– Weird scene involving Garrison when the boys come across him scuba diving in the sewer. It’s made even more messed up when he asks them if they knew how to file a police report. This only vaguely works because its Garrison we are dealing with here. We never find out what on earth he’s doing down there and frankly I don’t even want to know.

– The response to Kyle’s pleas to save Mr. Hankey from death is another scene that needs quoting in full. His story seems so unbelievable that all the directors think that he’s pitching a movie plot.
Director 1 – What a great story-it has everything!
Director 2 – This could be the next Free Willy.
Director 3 –  Great pic, son. How much do you want for it?
Kyle – Huh?
Director 4 – Does it, uh have to be a talking piece of poo?
Director 5 –  It could be a crime-fighting rabbit. Or a lovable turtle.
Director 1 – This could be a great summer movie.
Director 6 –  Can we put a monkey in it.
Director 7 – “The Mr. Hankey Story”, uh is Harrison Ford available for a fall pic?
Director 8 – Keanu Reeves
Director 9 – Matt Damon
Fred Savage – Fred Savage
Poor Fred Savage only succeeds in getting laughed at again.

– Love how annoyed Cartman is at Tom Hanks being cast in the Mr. Hankey movie. (“Who the hell cast Tom Hanks in this?! Tom Hanks can’t act his way out of a nutsack!”).

– Kenny dies from being trampled to death by the crowd leaving the Mr. Hankey movie screening. We see this coming as soon as Kenny is shown in front of the movie theatre but we get a brilliant variation on the ‘they killed Kenny’ lines from a couple of the people in the crowd.  (“Oh my God, I found a penny!”). (“You bastard!”).

– Love the scene where Cartman finds out the hard way why he shouldn’t trust Hollywood directors. (“Two million, minus your agent’s fee, minus your lawyer’s fee, minus my fee, and the publicity and taxes taken out, you get three dollare! That’s more than most people in your position make, trust me!”).

– Also love Redford’s bemusement at seeing a dried up Mr. Hankey. (“That’s great, kid. A dried-out lump of shit; very compelling”).

– Not only does Stan throw up from holding hands with Wendy, but then the cowboys in the movie ‘exploring their sexuality’ makes him do it again. Poor guy in front! (“Is there a problem, young man?”).

– Love Chef’s response to Kyle’s question on whether poo goes to heaven. (“Well, uh-I kinda hope not”). He immediately has to backtrack when Kyle starts weeping.

– It’s absurd, ridiculous, crude and as low brow as you can get, but the fact that they took Fantasia’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment and turned it into…. well I think the Mayor sums this up perfectly. (“Ooh, yeah. Now all we have is a town covered in shit! This is much better!”).