It’s the Classic First Episode of South Park, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” (101)!

Wow! – Talk about a throwback to the beginning. This episode was actually made out of cardboard, it’s covered in shadows and the voices and art are primitive. And it’s in all of those things that it’s so awesome. Parker and Stone had to work so hard to produce this episode. Now they can throw them together in a matter of days with computer animation and a huge team of worker-bees. Not so for episode 101. They did it all themselves, by hand, with cardboard cut-outs. Does that make it better? No. But it does make it really neat.

That’s in part why I really like the episode in which Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are mocked for updating their movies. Episode 101 is recalled and the guys say that they meant to have different things in it but just couldn’t make it happen within the budget and technology at the time. Now, however, they can update it and make it better. No! This episode is great just like it is (which is, of course, their entire point).

The episode is also funny – and I don’t mean funny in South Park‘s profound and socially commentary-y way. Funny in that it’s filled with cursing eight-year olds and fart jokes and toilet humor. Funny in that when it was released, this sort of thing wasn’t on television. There were very few adult cartoons at the time, save the Simpsons. This was before the days of Adult Swim. At the very least, adult cartoons didn’t feature children. This was something new and fresh and though the show has become more ‘refined’ and profound over the course of the last decade plus, I’ll always love this first episode for its total ‘id’ quality.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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Curse Words Bring Plagues in South Park Episode 502 “It Hits the Fan”

The big news is that a cop show is going to say the word “shit” on television. Oooooo.

It’s basically just a huge publicity stunt that gets everyone watching, and to show us how stupid it is, this episode says “shit” hundreds of times and keeps a counter in the corner.

Unfortunately, this public cursing has gotten everyone doing it, and that, it happens, is a bad thing. Curse words are called that because they’re cursed and if everyone doesn’t stop cursing something very bad is going to happen.

The boys and Chef go to the networks to try to get them to stop cursing (they just dismiss them as Conservative Christians with a harangue about free speech), and then do their best to shut things down and get people to stop cursing.

Kyle tells the world on television: “Swearing can be fun, but doing it all the time causes problems. We’re all saying the ‘s’ word too much….The Knights of Standards and Practices were created to make sure that bad words were kept to a minimum. Curse words – they’re called that because they are cursed. We have to go back to using curse words in only rare, extreme circumstances.”

Hooray!

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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Mr. Hankey Saves Kyle and Christmas in the First South Park Christmas Episode, 110, “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo”

It’s the first South Park Christmas episode ever. And you know what that means! It’s time to meet Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, the latest and greatest Holiday Season icon who’s there for everyone, no matter what s/he celebrates. As long as you have a high fiber diet then Mr. Hankey will be coming to your town.

Of course, as South Park’s Christmas falls apart do to an overemphasis on the separation between church and state and a misguided attempt not to offend anyone with any kind of decoration or festivity, the Broflovskis are not amused at Kyle’s suggestion to the mayor that Mr. Hankey become the new Christmas icon.

In fact, Kyle finds himself in increasing levels of trouble (and then the nut house) when Mr. Hankey comes around and makes a mess in the bathroom and later launches himself at Cartman after he sings about what a bitch Kyle’s mom is. Dubbed a fecopheliac, Kyle is locked away by his friends. Backstage at the disastrous elementary school play, however, Chef asks about Kyle’s whereabouts and upon learning what happened, tells the children that Mr. Hankey is real.

That’s when Mr. Hankey can finally be seen by everyone else and he saves the day on Christmas by telling the town:

“You people focus so hard on the things wrong with Christmas that you’ve forgotten what’s so right about it. Don’t you see? This is the one time of year we’re s’posed to forget all the bad stuff, to stop worrying and being sad about the state of the world, and for just one day say, ‘Aw, the heck with it! Let’s sing and dance and bake cookies.’”

Then the whole town goes out to the nut house and rescues Kyle; they all sing Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo’s special song. And miraculously enough, Kenny doesn’t die!

What do you think of this episode? What was your favorite part?

Enjoy some great South Park Christmas quotes.

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Cartman Tries to Use Stem Cell Research to Save Kenny in South Park Episode 513, “Kenny Dies”

When Kenny is diagnosed with a terminal disease, Stan doesn’t know how to handle it. Cartman reacts by pursuing some cell research alternatives and Stan goes and talks to Chef.

There conversation goes a little something like this:

Chef: Stan, sometimes God takes those closest to us, because it makes him feel better about himself. He is a very vengeful God, Stan. He’s all pissed off about something we did thousands of years ago. He just can’t get over it, so he doesn’t care who he takes. Children, puppies, it don’t matter to him, so long as it makes us sad. Do you understand.

Stan: But then, why does God give us anything to start with?

Chef: Well, look at it this way: if you want to make a baby cry, first you give it a lollipop. Then you take it away. If you never give it a lollipop to begin with, then it would have nothin’ to cry about. That’s like God, who gives us life and love and help just so that he can tear it all away and make us cry, so he can drink the sweet milk of our tears. You see, it’s our tears, Stan, that give God his great power.

Is that how you imagine God? Would you like your own Shakey’s Pizza?

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Tekko Watch, Sally Struthers and Starvin’ Marvin Come to South Park episode 109, “Starvin’ Marvin”

There are two Starvin’ Marvin episodes, and though the other is definitely my favorite (I mean, come on – it’s all about conservative Christianity, the Bible and missionaries. Can you blame me!?), this one is awesome too because it sets up all the greatness that’s sure to come when Marvin returns.

The boys want a Tekko sports watch that’s advertised on TV – and that can only be obtained by adopting a starving African child – but instead of sending the watch the boys are sent Marvin, an African child who is disturbingly malnurished.

They decide they like Marvin, but when the CIA comes to solve the mix-up, Cartman is accidentally returned in his place. In Africa, he wanders around, “starving,” and looking for food, only to fall in the sand and claim, “My God has forsaken me.” Lucky for Cartman, he discovers Sally Struthers hide-away where she is hoarding much of the food meant for the Ethiopians. The drama between Parker-Stone and Struthers erupted in the public sphere later, with Struthers claiming offense at her portrayal. In the next episode (311, “Starvin Marvin in Space), she is portrayed is Jabba the Hut.

In the meantime, back in South Park, Dr. Mephisto has genetically engineered turkeys for Thanksgiving, but when it turns out that they’re violent and crazy turkeys, the town has to team up (with Chef as their leader, Mel Gibsoning it up Braveheart-style) and fight the turkeys. This solves the problem of the starving Ethiopians, too, since the massacred turkeys are taken by Marvin back to his people.

It’s a Thanksgiving miracle and obviously a great week for a Thanksgiving episode.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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An Evil Stan is Engineered in South Park Episode 105, “An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig”

Oh, early season one of South Park: how folksy and classic.

In this episode all the boys must complete science fair projects and Kyle and Dr. Mephisto’s son get into a cloning war, with the latter insisting that he can clone an entire human being and Kyle believing that he can breed an elephant and a pot-bellied pig to make small pot-bellied elephants.

When the boys go to Dr. Mephisto, the local genetic engineer, to ask how they might do what they intend to, they are introduced to a variety of four-assed animals genetically engineered by the doctor. Secretly, he stabs Stan and takes a sample of his blood, which happens to be the blood used for the human clone. In the meantime, Chef advises the boys to have the elephant make love to the pig and Elton John comes in for a magical and sexy duet that, post drunk, gets every enjoying some coitus.

The Stan-clone grows huge and monstrous and eventually escapes from the genetic engineer only to terrify and destroy the town of South Park. And guess who’s getting blamed!? That’s right, Stan.

Fortunately for him and the trouble he’s going to get in, Shelley, who had been mean to Stan throughout the whole episode, claims that Stan had been with her the whole time and therefore not wreaking havoc about town. What a good sister.

Stan tells Shelley:

“Shelley, you saved my life. And yet, you’ve done so much more than that. Today you’ve taught me the meaning of family. Sure, families don’t always get along, but when the forces of evil descend upon us, we conquer them by sticking together.”

Curiously, this episode touches close to home right now because I’m in the middle of one of Michael Crichton’s books about genetic engineering called Next. It’s not as good as State of Fear or some of his classics but I’m entertained. I only got it because it was a few dollars for the hardback at Borders a few months back. And then we learned this week that Crichton died. He was a great author and a great addition to public debate about important issues. Thanks for everything, Michael.

Do you like this episode? What’s your favorite part?

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South Park is Overrun by Zombies and Chef Goes Michael Jackson in “Pink Eye,” Episode 107

The first Halloween episode will always be a classic one. Kenny dies early on and is accidentally embalmed with Worcestershire Sauce, thereby turning him into a zombie. He starts biting people and turning them into zombies until South Park has an uncontrollable zombie epidemic.

The doctor insists that it’s actually pinkeye that’s going around – not zombies. Even though Stan and Kyle originally go to Chef for help, Chef is bitten and transformed into a zombie. Thus, it’s up to the boys to stop the zombies and restore South Park to its usual, normal state. >wink wink<

At the end of the episode, Stan tells Kyle that the lesson he learned is that Halloween isn’t about presents and candy but rather about loving and caring. Kyle corrects him and tells him that it is about candy and presents. This, I think, is a funny comment about the mixed messages our society sends about Christmas.

What did you think of this episode?

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Chef Gets Taken Away By a Succubus in Episode 303

Succubi are pretty terrifying creatures. They steal men away and change them, hypnotizing them under their awful spells. In this episode of South Park, Chef is stolen by one and about to get married – unless of course the children can stop him.

Imaginary creatures, particularly those South Park doesn’t invent itself, have an important place on the show, helping us learn about the lessons the show wants to teach by providing us with a mythological framework in which to understand.

What did you think of this episode? What’s your favorite made-up character in South Park?

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In “Proper Condom Use,” (507) South Park Has Mr. Garrison and Mr. Mackey Teaching Sex-Ed

In this episode Mr. Mackey teaches sex ed to the boys and Ms. Choksondick teaches it to the girls. Mr. Garrison, because it’s believed that younger and younger children should learn about proper condom use, teaches sexual education and proper condom use to the kindergartners. Basically, it’s a huge mess because none of these people should be talking about sex with children. Unfortunately the parents were too chicken to do it themselves. At the end of an episode that has seen total chaos and all out war between the sexes (terrified of pregnancy and disease), Chef says the following:

Well I hate to say it but you all got what you deserved. Look, schools are teaching condom use to younger and younger students each day, but sex isn’t something that should be taught in textbooks and diagrams. Sex is emotional and spiritual – it needs to be taught by family. I know it can be hard parents but if you leave it up to the schools to teach sex to kids you don’t know who they’re learning it from. It could be someone who doesn’t know, someone who has a bad opinion of it or even a complete pervert.”

After everyone agrees the boys ask Chef when the right time to start having sex is. He answers, 17. It’s as simple as that: 17. Good advice, I think.

Though I don’t think sex ed in schools is such a terrible thing and talking to parents about sex can be very awkward, I certainly support the importance of having an open dialogue between parents and their children about sex. It is difficult to know when the time is right to have the talk but starting to be honest at a young age – when they see sexual advertisements and images of sexual things in pop-culture around them – can be fine if you start simple. You need not describe the anatomical specifics of the Lotus position, but just share a little so that by the time the questions come and the big issues need to be discussed, there’s a foundation of openness and understanding.

Did you like this episode? Have you had to talk to your children about sex? Awkward? How did you do it?

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Isaac Hayes, Who Voiced the South Park Character, Chef, Dies at Age 65

In 1997, Isaac Hayes become the voice of Chef, the large, sexed-up, black cafeteria chef at South Park Elementary, who was the only adult that Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman could consistently trust. He was wonderful, lovable, and in classic Isaac Hayes fashion, broke into song all the time. No South Park viewer could but love Chef, and appreciate Hayes’ wonderful contribution to this timeless and fantastic show about American culture.

Unfortunately, Chef was not a part of South Park to the end of his life, as his character was killed in the first episode of the tenth season, titled “The Return of Chef” (1001). It was, to be sure, a controversial move, but nothing other than controversy surrounded his departure from the show.

At the end of the 9th season South Park did an episode about Scientology, lambasting the religion thoroughly and making it and some of its celebrity members, namely Tom Cruise, look rather stupid. Isaac Hayes took issues with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s portrayal of his religion – yes, Hayes was a Scientologist – insisting that they just didn’t understand. Moreover, he told them that it wasn’t right to make fun of his religion that way, though they noted that he had no trouble making fun of nearly everyone else’s religions in other episodes.

Hayes left during the season break and later, Parker and Stone received a letter that he was resigning permanently. Mystery surrounds this letter because it is unclear who wrote it. It is believed that Hayes was in a coma when the letter was sent, suggesting that he had no hand in it at all. Others contend that he was coerced into writing the letter, and of course there is always the possibility that he wrote it himself. If this last option, it is unlikely that he was not goaded by fellow Scientologists to do so.

This situation soured me towards Isaac Hayes because I found his character on the show to be incredibly important – and also quite funny. Nonetheless, what happened happened and in a spectacular episode about Chef’s leaving South Park for a fruity little club (a metaphor for Scientology), the character was killed off and Isaac Hayes never returned to South Park again.

Now, he’s dead for real. I hope that the final 2 years of his life were fulfilling and enjoyable. I’m sorry that he departed from South Park on such an unfortunate note. Perhaps, considering my thoughts, I should try to bear Kyle’s eulogy in mind from Chef’s funeral at the end of the episode:

“We’re all here today because Chef has been such an important part of our lives. A lot of us don’t agree with the choices Chef has made in the past few days. Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can’t let the events of the last week take away the memories of how much Chef made us smile. I’m gonna remember Chef as the jolly old guy who always broke into song. I’m gonna remember Chef as the guy who gave us advice to live by. So you see, we shouldn’t be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that little fruity club for scrambling his brains. And in the end, I know that somewhere out there, there’s the good part of Chef that’s still alive in us all.”

Here’s to you Isaac Hayes.

On a similarly unfortunate note, Bernie Mac has also died at the age of 50.

What was your favorite Chef moment? What will you remember Isaac Hayes for?

To read about the group Anonymous and their global protest against Scientology, click HERE.

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