(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.
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.