Thursday, January 25, 2007

South Park: The Complete Eighth Season

3-disc set; 14 episodes (308 minutes)

This season was produced and aired in 2004. Trey & Matt were in the unenviable position of trying to make a season’s worth of South Park bookend the entire writing and shooting of “Team America.” The creative juices weren’t flowing so much in the second half of the season, suffice to say. One episode (“Quest for Ratings”) even documents their lack of ideas. But they do end up with some pretty incredible stuff despite that.

Here are the 14 episodes of season 8 in order of air:

Good Times With Weapons (air: 3/17/04) – The boys see “real weapons from the far east” while at the fair and pretend their parents are dead so they can buy them. As they imagine themselves as warriors, the show turns into an anime parody, with anime representations of each character plus a poorly translated theme song. Even with the shock of the parody gone that was there when you first saw the show, it still holds up with the “boys being boys” and imagining beyond what they’re actually doing. Cartman fulfilling the role of that one kid you were friends with who always had every imaginary super power was a personal highlight for me. Thumbs up.

Up The Down Steroid (air: 3/24/04) – Two seasons in a row with a Jimmy episode going second. Hmm. In this one, Jimmy & Timmy join the Special Olympics, and Cartman sees it as an opportunity to fake being handicapped and win the $1,000 top prize. Jimmy also goes on steroids to become a winner and it turns into a commentary on the baseball controversy that was in its early stages at the time. Matt & Trey had the Cartman idea for a while but didn’t see it going for an entire 22 minute show. Even with the Jimmy angle, I think it was a bit weak, but I’ll still call it a thumbs up. It does feature a cameo from one of my favorite little gags, the “Investigative Reports Game with Bill Curtis.”

The Passion of the Jew (air: 3/31/04) – In the first two episodes this season, Cartman keeps reminding Kyle he hasn’t seen “The Passion of the Christ.” So here we are with this one. He goes to see it and is moved to the point of wanting the Jews to apologize for killing Jesus. Meanwhile, Cartman organizes a Mel Gibson fan club that marches and chants in German, and Stan & Kenny try to get their money back since it sucked. The stuff with their version of Mel Gibson being out of his mind is good, but the rest is more of a message conveyance than funny. In commentary, Matt & Trey seem to agree. Thumbs in the middle. Oddly enough, the popularity of this one gave it a real, real quick DVD release of its own.

You Got F’d in the A (air: 4/7/04) – The boys get served in a hardware store parking lot, leading to Stan’s dad teaching him line dancing to use against the dancers. When “it’s on!” and Chef sees the debacle, Stan has to assemble a team of dancers for the final battle. Obviously based on the inane “You Got Served,” that alone would be enough for a good episode. Just making fun of that dumb movie would be a deep well of jokes. But they made every last detail silly from beginning to end. Thumbs up.

AWESOM-O (air: 4/14/04) – Cartman pretends to be a robot to make Butters look stupid, only he finds out Butters has a tape of him dressed as Britney Spears making out with a Justin Timberlake cut-out. So Eric keeps pretending while trying to find the tape, and ends up on a vacation to Los Angeles with the Stotch family. The Cartman character is so sinister that nothing is out of the realm of plausibility with him. This episode proves that no matter how many times they use the premise of a Cartman evil scheme, it can still be great. Thumbs up.

The Jeffersons (air: 4/21/04) – Martin Jefferson is the newest resident of South Park and the kids quickly find out he has a house full of games and toys and start going over to play. He’s really Michael Jackson wearing a mustache. When the parents get wind of him breaking in to Stan’s house for a sleepover, they vow the kids can’t go over any more. But Kyle can’t help but feel sorry for his son, Blanket, who is being ignored, neglected and put in harm’s way through random “flights” outside his window. Like the season opener, this was funnier when “Martin” was new to you, but it’s still good enough for thumbs up. It’s got an extended sequence of Kenny without his jacket, too.

Goobacks (air: 4/28/04) – People from the future build a time portal into present time to find work. The future is so overpopulated that coming back to 2004 and working for 10 cents an hour and letting that earn interest for a thousand years is better. This one’s famous for the townspeople’s decree of “they took our jobs!” which gets less and less enunciated as the show goes on. Trey & Matt said they didn’t like the amount of faux news coverage they had to put in here and thought it wasn’t funny, but I happen to disagree. There’s the Bill O’Reilly parody, the CNN newscaster explaining how the portal follows “Terminator rules” and more...thumbs up.

Douche and Turd (air: 10/27/04) – Just as the last one was a metaphor for the immigration situation, this one was for the 2004 election. PETA stops South Park from using the Cows as its mascot, so they’re forced to change. Kyle suggests they write in “giant douche” while Cartman argues “turd sandwich” is funnier. Stan chooses not to vote which puts him on the hit list for Diddy’s Vote or Die team. Just the thought of a douche and a turd sandwich having a debate is funny. Thumbs up.

Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes (air: 11/3/04) – Wal-Mart, or the show’s name that thumbs around legality, “Wall-Mart,” comes to South Park and wreaks havoc on main street. All the adults can’t stop themselves from shopping there, so the boys attempt to stop it themselves. It’s a decent episode, more of a message show though, so not entirely funny. Thumbs in the middle.

Pre-School (air: 11/10/04) – Trent Boyett gets released from juvenile hall. Five years ago, in pre-school, the boys had him start a fire so they could play fireman, and the fire ended up burning the teacher within an inch of her life. They blamed Trent and now he’s free and after the kids. They did a flashback to them as kids wayyy back on the big giant snake fireworks episode, and this sprang from the idea of an entire episode that way. I liked the characterization, and it was fun. The episode itself starts slow, picks up as it goes...good enough for a thumbs up. Not a home run, but more than passable.

Quest For Ratings (air: 11/17/04) – The boys’ in-school news show is being trumped by Craig’s “Animals Close Up With a Wide Angle Lens.” The revamped “Super Sexy School News” helps ratings, but they still can’t beat Craig, and have to come up with even crazier ideas. Kids pretending to be adults is one of my weaknesses, which is why I liked “Rugrats” in its early goings. The silliness of the kids with the newsman hair and stuff – fun. Thumbs up.

Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset (air: 12/1/04) – Paris Hilton opens a new store in the South Park Mall and all the girls in town want to be like her. Wendy tries to get help to no avail, but finally finds Mr. Slave who gets challenged by Paris to a whore-off. Meanwhile Butters’ parents sell him to Paris for $250 million. Gotta love that “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” Barbie-esque commercial parody. Thumbs up.

Cartman’s Incredible Gift (air: 12/8/04) – Cartman tries flying off his roof and ends up in a coma. Detectives there mistake his common sense for psychic powers and use Eric to solve crimes. Kyle tries to solve things the old fashioned way, but has to put himself in a coma before the police pay attention to him. This is silly and funny. Thumbs up.

Woodland Critter Christmas (air: 12/15/04) – Stan stumbles upon some woodland critters who are having trouble with their Christmas plans. He gives them a star for their tree, builds them a manger and kills the mountain lion after the squirrel’s child. Only, that kid is the son of Satan and will give the world 1,000 years of darkness. Oops. This starts as dumb as it sounds, but it builds into a classic, funny episode. Thumbs up. The story of Trey, Matt and the crew at the end of their rope in the commentary puts me in awe because this episode was rushed, to say the least.

The count (up-middle-down):

Despite some truly whack ideas, they manage some funny stuff in the latter half of the run. In the “South Park” legend, there are one, maybe two episodes here that were remembered beyond their time of air and passed into “classic” territory among casual fans I talk with; but that aside, what you get here is a mostly-funny collection of shows.


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