[Editor’s Note: Although he’s not one of our regular contributors to The Bonus View, HDD Blu-ray reviewer Nate Boss was so eager to spread the word about the current season of ‘South Park’ that he’s joining us today as a special guest blogger in time for tonight’s new episode. Take it away, Nate. -JZ]
Who would have ever thought that ‘South Park’ would make it this long? Fifteen seasons, even truncated, is quite impressive for a show whose aim is to push boundaries and offend. Long gone are the days of Kenny dying every episode, or the days when Chef would spice up an episode with a funky song. Wednesdays wouldn’t be the same without the shock theater that is Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s cardboard cutout animation. If the first two episodes of this new season are any sign, the show won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
The fifteenth season of ‘South Park’ debuted with a muffled scream, though it was far from a whimper. Yes, the numerous storylines in the premiere ‘HUMANCENTiPAD’ don’t mesh together well, at all. Sure, the episode is somewhat lopsided. It’s also bitingly hilarious and amazingly disgusting and offensive.
Last season, there was some controversy over how the creators didn’t bother to watch ‘Inception‘ before making an episode parodying the movie (though their rip on ‘Avatar‘, before the blockbuster even hit theaters, was spot on). They may have even gone so far as to accidentally (if that’s possible) rip off CollegeHumor’s take on the film. There is none of that here. There is no way in hell that Parker and Stone didn’t watch ‘The Human Centipede‘ before crafting this episode.
When Kyle accidentally signs all of his rights away (along with the right to taze his father) in the new iTunes Terms and Conditions, Steve Jobs and his loyal henchmen whisk the young Colorado boy away to be a part of the next big product from Apple. Along with two other unfortunate souls, Kyle finds out that he agreed to have his mouth sewn onto the anus of another person, while someone else’s mouth will be sewn onto the end of his digestive track. In turn, that last person will be attached to an iPad powered by her passing of recycled goods. The debut of this new product that is to revolutionize phones and tablets – the HUMANCENTiPAD – is met with great anticipation. To quote Cartman, “It does email and web browsing and it shits in Kyle’s mouth!” So, what isn’t there to love? It’s the most green product ever invented!
On top of the obviously lowbrow, revolting jokes that a show like ‘South Park’ would throw in when dealing with a parody of that film, the episode also touches on a more serious topic too. Specifically, Cartman is tired of his mom not giving in to his demands. By insinuating that she’s literally f***ing him by not spoiling him, he ends up on ‘Dr. Phil’ to talk about the abuse. For possibly the first time in the show’s history, Liane Cartman actually stands up for herself, and against Eric, and this is what she gets for it. National audiences think that she has an inappropriate relationship with her own young son.
It’s sad, really, that with the great Cartman jokes and the hilarious situations Kyle finds himself in, that the episode spends so much time on less interesting storylines. Kyle’s father and the other boys go to the Apple “Geniuses” to try to force the company to give back their friend. They make some lame references to topical events, like Apple tracking your every move. But not even these sure-to-be-dated-within-a-month jokes come up as flat as the adult nerds who know everything.
A running joke in the episode juxtaposes Kyle and Eric against the other boys, as if they’d actually read a single line of any Terms and Conditions agreement. The gag gets better with each repeat visit. However, it’s eventually abandoned, and we’re left with a climax that brings all the stories together in a way that just isn’t funny. Cuttlefish and asparagus, now that’s funny.
Eagle-eyed viewers will be sure to spot a misspelled Blu-ray sign in the Best Buy sequence. Is this the first time the format has been shown or mentioned in this small town of Colorado?
The second episode this season, ‘Funnybot’, is completely different and doesn’t rely on any crude humor. Rather, it dissects a shortcoming in humanity that must be changed, a phenomena that no one likes, and which exists solely to spawn more of its kind. That’s right, it’s about award shows.
Airing just a few days after the MTV Movie Awards nominations were announced (this cannot be a coincidence), the episode features a Comedy Awards Show that everyone in South Park Elementary is forced to watch, and no one gives a damn about. The Special Ed students (this cannot be a coincidence either) give out random inane awards to students and celebrities, and cause an international incident after calling Germans the least funny people in the world.
In response, Germany creates the ultimate comic, Funnybot, who takes the humanity out of joke telling in pursuit of the ultimate joke. Soon, comics are out of work, and the meteoric rise of Funnybot goes to its brain… errr… processor.
Sadly, I know the ‘South Park’ creators didn’t focus their satire on their parent company’s biggest whore of a channel. But it’s hard to not rip on a show whose nominees this year include ‘Grown Ups‘, ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse‘ (in nearly every category), Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Aniston. Rather, Stone and Parker make an all-too-important point about another horrible cultural trend that’s gaining power and will soon be unstoppable: Tyler Perry.
In an episode with more than a few Holocaust jokes, a great ‘The Nutty Professor’ gag, and even a Dalek rip-off, the stars of the show have to be the constant gags featuring the Georgian playwright/actor/writer/producer/director/dude who dresses up like a woman for money. Token and even President Obama find themselves unable to look away from Madea’s antics and constant adding of the letter “R” to words.
The point? With ‘Funnybot’, there isn’t one. It’s a filler episode, with a few memorable moments, but plenty of fluff and formulaic “comedy.” If you don’t see the twist at the end coming, you clearly aren’t paying attention.