Wednesday, 24 November 2010

South Park Season 14

South Park's 14th season was a strange one. Do you remember the days it was about some strange people in a little town? Not anymore...

I'm a huge fan of South Park and I think it's one of the most creative, original social commentaries of our time - all wrapped up in a cartoon format for adults. However, if you look how it's evolved year by year, then you'd see that it has probably peaked a few seasons back. Instead, South Park seems to take pride in being a last-minute story about current affairs or social trends or celebrity news stories. A Comedy Central advert even advertised it as a 'Which celebrity will they take the mick out of next?' thing - and I thought it missed the point. It seems they might be a little preoccupied with creating controversy than focusing on good jokes and so they end up with this mixed bag which is the 14th season.

There's one good thing that has happened to South Park since it's first episode back in the day and that's it's pace. It no longer hangs around or holds back with some lame joke, it completely runs riot and does what it wants trying to cram in as much as possible - which for a show like this works a lot better I feel. Though I could be wrong.

The first episode Sexual Healing is about sex addictions and mainly Tiger Woods, it once again relies on celebrity whacking and just doesn't contain enough jokes to make it a worthwhile watch, it's a pretty bad start for a season and one that shows that they wanted to come out with something that included a big name so people would be like 'no they diddddn't!!' . The Tale Of Scrotie McBoogerballs is a good Butters episode where the boys write a disgusting book and blame it on Butters. It's after the boys read Catcher In The Rye which is supposed to be all controversial and they don't find it the least bit offensive. I find that a lot of books which try to be controversial often try too hard and seeing as it's usually written by someone who stays in their room all day, it's hard to imagine they have any idea what they are talking about. People are literally sick all over the world and this prat-fall visual gag is a good one, but again it fails to inspire a rewatch.

Medicinal Fried Chicken is a better episode with some good Randy moments (perhaps my favourite character) and some good Cartman / Scarface storylines and I think, much like The Simpsons producers realised with Homer, South Park fans love anything to do with Randy rather than the kids. Stan and Kyle have turned into little whiny moaners, especially Kyle and no-one really cares about Kenny that much. Cartman however, goes from strength to strength and it's good that they try and spend as much time on him as possible as he is the real star - alongside Randy of course.

You Have 0 Friends is to do with Facebook and it being essentially a monster of it's own. The great thing is Stan going into a Tron world inside Facebook and Randy, of course, is completely in love with the idea of social networking. The funny bits are basically the bits with the loner kid and the idea of friends as a currency in the online world, but again, compared to earlier episodes such as the one with Faith + 1, Fingerbang or so on, it really doesn't stand up. The next up was a two parter about celebrities, and mainly Tom Cruise getting their own back on South Park, it was also about the sudden shock news of showing Mohammad. These episodes did create a bit of a frenzy in the Muslim world but really it's just more celeb bashing with celebs they've used already anyway. So nothing new really.

The last episode of the first half of the season (phew) was Crippled Summer and apart from the 'Mimseyyyy!' line and a shark raping a kid, it was pretty crap. Why they ended the first half on this I'll never know. When it came back months later with Poor and Stupid, a show about NASCAR, there was some funny Cartman and Butters moments - "that's gay" - but it was quite boring. It's a Jersey Thing takes a look at the sudden hype surrounding shows like Jersey Shore, Housewives of New Jersey etc. and has one of the most shocking endings I've seen on a South Park yet as the Taliban fly some American Airline jets in to save the day and Bin Laden is commended as a hero. I don't think I saw that one coming.

Insheeption was another favourite and caused some outrage by copying jokes from well known comedy site College Humour (as documented in this blog). The episode which has a look at Mr Mackey's past is hilarious and the young Mackey is the best thing I'd seen in South Park in this season. The next three episodes returns to Cartman's Dark Knight Coon superhero, except he now has Coon and Friends (a homage to old TV series Spiderman and Friends), it's the classic gang with a new member Mintberry Crunch and you find out who Mysterion, as well as the others, while they try to save the world from BP's mistakes - "sorry". This 3 parter started well but soon got quite boring and the very end was a big anti-climax - which is a shame because there were a couple of good moments.

The final episode Creme Fraiche is another good Randy episode as he seems to get aroused by cooking while his wife has a strange new exercise machine. Once again, there were a few good moments, including a great Gordon Ramsay impression by Cartman but it didn't save the series.

Overall, it might even be worse than season 13, and I didn't hold that in high regard either. It's a shame but I think South Park needs to take a look at itself and maybe start spending more time writing the shows because it seems they are running out of ideas. Fortunately, it's nowhere near dying as yet and I still enjoy watching it, it just isn't the same. I'd just rather it stop now than turn into the self-parody that is The Simpsons, a show that is absolutely terrible these days and treats it's audience like a 5 year old child.

It's still better than The Simpsons and I'd say it's better than Family Guy, which is hit and miss for completely different reasons, and definitely not as smart or original (minus the College Humour thing). What I love most is last week, the creators are being sued for Butters doing the 'What What in The Butt' song, probably the last great hope before the show finally started turning into what it is now.

Rating: 5/10

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