Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Top Tens: The Best South Park Episodes Ever

I had so much fun making up my list of my favorite Simpsons episodes last week, I decided to make up a list of my favorite episodes from the other great animated show of my lifetime – South Park. While South Park has never been as consistent as The Simpsons – some episodes are brilliant, and some are downright awful. But when the show is on target, it can be the best show on television. These are my favorite episodes of all time.

10. Sexual Harassment Panda (Season 3)
The boy’s class is visited by Petey the Sexual Harassment Panda one day, and gives Cartman an idea. When Stan calls him an “ass-sucker”, he sues Stan for sexual harassment, hiring Mr. Broflawski as his lawyer, and eventually winning half of Stan’s stuff. Soon, everyone is suing everyone, and Mr. Broflawski is representing everyone on both sides. Poor Petey the Sexual Harassment Panda retreats to the island of Misfit Mascots, an island for mascots whose messages make no sense. He makes a triumphant return though as Petey the Don’t Sue Everyone Everyone Panda, and the boys learn a valuable lesson. The episode is South Park at its best, mixing the ridiculousness of a Panda as a mascot for Sexual Harassment (who as a very catchy song), with the serious issue of frivolous lawsuits to come up with a hilarious overall episode. There are some great lines in this one as well like “Goddamn it Skeeter, how come every time a panda bear come in here, you go flappin’ your jaw”, and my personal favorite being Cartman’s definition of sexual harassment as “When you’re trying to have intercourse with a lady friend, and some other guy comes up and tickles your balls from behind”. Classic.

9. You Got F’d in the A (Season 8)
The gang is just hanging out playing with their RC cars, when a group of kids from Orange County come up and dance in their faces, thus “serving” them. When they tell Chef, he appears concerned and calls their parents to tell them their kids have just suffered a horrible ordeal. The kids learn to dance, and the confrontations end up escalating to the point of it “being on”, at which point Randy tries to calm down the Orange County kids by telling him it’s off, but then gets “served” so badly by their coach, that he winds up in the hospital. Stan then gathers the best dancers he can – a Goth kid, a Dance, Dance Revolution Champion, one of the Raisins girls, and eventually Butters. Butters was once one of the best tap dancers in the world, but at a championship match, his shoe flew off that led to a series of events that killed 8 people (Stan actually tells him it was 11, as one woman was pregnant, and two people killed themselves afterwards). But Butters reluctantly agrees to partake, and after serving the other team hardcore, his shoe flies off again, which makes a light fixture fall down and kill the entire Orange County team, leaving Butters splattered with blood and carried off the floor as a hero. The episode merciless skewers the ridiculous dance movies that have been coming out in the last few years, and its parody is both dead on and completely hilarious. A perfect episode, and I can’t help but love it every time Butters gets a major role in one.

8. Asspen (Season 6)
Sometimes I love South Park for its political content, but with Asspen it’s just plain old fashioned stupid hilarity that makes me love it. The parents all travel to Aspen to attend a time share presentation in an effort to get a free skiing weekend. No matter how they try to leave, they end up back in the same presentation office. But it’s the kids on the slopes that has me laughing each time. The ski instructor who tells them to go fast they need to “French fry” and to slow down they need to “pizza”. If you “French fry when you’re supposed to pizza, you’re not going to have a good time”. The asshole Tad who continually harasses Stan by calling him Stan Darsh, and continually challenging him to a race for the love of Heather, a girl that Stan doesn’t even know is hilarious. As is the fact that Stan needs to win the race in order to save the Community Center, even though he doesn’t care at all about it. Asspen is just straight up hilarious, smart stupid comedy.

7. Go God Go (Season 10)
In this brilliant two part episode, Cartman cannot wait the three weeks it will take for the Nintendo Wii to be released. He strikes upon a “brilliant” idea to freeze himself in the snow and then dethaw three weeks later so that the time passes quickly. Meanwhile, Mrs. Garrison is upset at having to teach “Godless evolution”, so the school brings in Richard Dawkins to help her out. He almost immediately converts her to atheism, and the two conspire to rid the world of the “God delusion”. Cartman wakes up in the year 2546, where Dawkins and Garrison really have succeeded in riding the world of God, but now different factions of atheists, including a group of talking sea otters, are in a constant state of war arguing over what the most logical name to call themselves is. Meanwhile the phrase “God damn it” has been replaced with “Science damn it”, and Cartman is still on a quest to get a Wii, now a technology hundreds of years old. The episodes are a brilliant merging of what South Park does best – whip political commentary in the future world where people who argue that a world without religion would be peaceful being proven dead wrong, the stupid in Cartman freezing himself in order to get a Wii sooner, and the profane in the graphically sexual relationship between Dawkins and Garrison. This was a great one.

6. Cartoon Wars (Season 10)
Another brilliant two part episode, this one details Cartman’s efforts to get Family Guy off the air. He is tired of everyone telling him that his sense of humor is just like that show, because he feels that the show is just a random collection of jokes with no real story. Kyle, a fan of the show, tries to stop Cartman thus starting a cross country race on big wheels (hilarious in its own right, with screeching sound effects). The whole war is set in motion because Family Guy will air an episode where the Muslim Prophet Mohammed will be shown as a character. People across America, fearing a terrorist attack, decide to literally bury their heads in the sand to show Muslims they have nothing to do with the insult. In part II of the episode, it is revealed that the writers for Family Guy are just a bunch of Manatees who have access to balls with everything in the world written on them, so that the jokes are really just a random string of topics. While I disagree with the idea purposed by the episode that everything is funny, and therefore can be made fun of, this episode is one of the best written, most funny episodes of South Park ever.

5. Woodland Critter Christmas (Season 8)
As rule, most holiday themed episodes of sitcoms are terrible, and for the most part, South Park is no different. Count me as someone who always thought that Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Pooh, was idiotic. But Woodland Critter Christmas is one of the best Christmas episodes of any show ever. Told through brilliant, rhyming narration, the “boy in the red poofball hat”, Stan, comes across a group of woodland creatures in the forest. He agrees to help them build their Christmas tree, and then when it is revealed to him that Porcupiney the Porcupine is pregnant with their savior, he agrees to help them build a manger. Then they tell him that every year, one of them gets pregnant with their savior but a mean mountain lion comes along and kills them. So Stan, helps to slay the mountain lion. But then he finds out that the Woodland Critters are really Satan worshippers, and Stan just killed their only enemy. What follows includes animal sacrifices, a blood orgy, a trip to the abortion clinic and Santa with a shotgun. All in all, this is the best Christmas episode in the history of the show.

4. Good Times with Weapons (Season 8)
In this episode, a fair is in town and the boys trick a vendor into selling them some dangerous ninja weapons. They then imagine themselves an anime ninjas, fighting the evil Professor Chaos (Butters) that is going fine until Kenny hurls a throwing star that hits Butters in the face. Fearing that they are going to get in trouble by taking Butters to the hospital, they disguise him as a dog and try and take him to the vet’s instead. When Butters gets away, the boys try and get him back, but it involves getting to the other side of the fairgrounds without being seen. Cartman’s alter-ego has the power of invisibility, so he strips naked and tries to sneak across the stage – but of course is seen by the entire town, as he really is not invisible. The episode ends with the entire town getting upset about the horrible thing that happened at the fair – not Butters’ horrific injury, which no one cares about, but Cartman’s nudity which he blames on a wardrobe malfunction. Once again, South Park pokes fun at how easily people accept violence, but get all bent out of shape over sex. This is their best shot at that contradiction ever.

3. Raisins (Season 7)
At the beginning of the episode, Wendy breaks up with Stan, sending him into a deep depression. The guys try to break Stan out of his funk by taking him to Raisins, an obvious parody of Hooters, where all the waitress are pre-teen girls with heavy make-up and little clothing. This does nothing to help Stan, who gets more depressed, and starts hanging out with the Goth kids, who pride themselves on their non-conformity, while making Stan conform to their ways. While at Raisins, Butters falls in love with a waitress named Lexus, not realizing that she is nice and flirts with everyone to get more tips. He spends all of his money at Raisins, before realizing the truth about Lexus and goes crying in the rain. The Goth kids see him and invite him to join their clique, when Butters delivers his impassioned speech. “Yeah... And I'm sad! But at the same time I'm really happy that something can make me feel that sad... It's like... It makes me feel alive, y'know? It makes me feel human. The only way I could feel this sad now, is if I felt somethin' really good before, so I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I'm feelin' is, like a beautiful sadness... I guess that sounds stupid... Besides, I'd rather be a crying little pussy than a faggy goth kid”. This is one of the most brilliant, and hilarious speeches in South Park history. The final scene, where Stan has snapped out his depression, calls Wendy a bitch and gives her new boyfriend Token the finger, is also classic.

2. Christian Rock Hard (Season 7)
When Stan, Kyle and Kenny throw Cartman out of their band Moop, he decides to start his own band. He and Kyle make a $10 bet over whose band will go Platinum first. Looking for inspiration, the members of Moop go online and download songs illegally, bringing the ire of the FBI who bring them around to see how illegal downloads effects musicians like Lars Ulrich (who has to wait a few months before he can get his gold plated shark tank) and Britney Spears, who has to settle for the Gulfstream III jet, instead of the Gulfstream IV. The members of Moop decide to go on strike until downloading music illegally goes away. Meanwhile, Cartman starts the Christian Rock Band Faith +1 with Token and Butters in an attempt to go Platinum. He takes old love songs and replaces the word Baby with the word the Jesus, and the album becomes a hit. There are many great moments in the episode – Cartman insisting first that because he is black Token must have a bass somewhere in his house (which he does) and then later that he can actually play the bass (which he can), to the photo shoot for the album cover where Cartman advises Butters and Token to “look away and pretend you don’t care about being on an album cover”, to the finale where Cartman finds out that Christian albums can never go Platinum, but they can go “double mire”. But the best scene is the infomercial where the play great clips of Cartman singing his songs, which are strangely romantic about Jesus. The single best one goes “I want to get down on my knees and start pleasing Jesus. I feel his salvation all over my face”. Classic.

1. Scott Tenorman Must Die (Season 5)
If there was ever any doubt that Cartman was among the most evil television characters in history, then this episode completely laid waste to those doubts. Teenager Scott Tenorman tricks Cartman into paying $10 for his pubic hair, and then continues to play tricks on Cartman, making him lose another $6.12 in the process, and travelling hundreds of miles to a fair where he thinks he’ll be able to sell the pubes at a huge profit. Scott then makes Cartman act like a “little piggy” to get his money back, and then burns it in front of him. Cartman vows revenge. First, he tries to train a local pony to bite off Scott Tenorman’s penis. He plans on doing this in front of Scott’s favorite band, Radiohead at the following week’s chili cook-off. He tells Stan and Kyle his plan, who promptly inform Scott, who plans on getting Cartman to eat his pubes at the cook-off. What they don’t know is that everything is part of a fiendish plan by Cartman to have Scott’s parents killed, so he can chop them up and put them in the chili, and then force Scott to eat his parents – which he accomplishes. To top it all off, as Scott is crying over the death of his parents, Radiohead stops by and calls Scott a cry-baby and Cartman licks the tears off of his face. Scott Tenorman Must Die is one of the best half hours in television history.

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