Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 21, 2005)
Time for Season Six of South Park and its 17 episodes. I’ll examine each of these programs in the way presented on the DVDs, which also appears to be the order in which they were first broadcast. The synopses come straight from the DVD’s liner notes.
Jared Has Aides (first aired 3/6/02: “As the country becomes obsessed with a popular program for losing weight, the boys see their opportunity to become sponsored by a major restaurant chain.”
On the negative side, the parts about Jared get really old, really fast. The whole AIDS/aides gag isn’t good to start, but the show beats it into the ground. Two funny bits occur – one is self-referential, and the other spoofs Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”. Otherwise the Jared parts bite.
On the positive side, the boys’ campaign to get their own cash cow delights. Even the gross-out bits work, and Cartman’s impersonation of Butters is hilarious. This adds up to a show with a split personality, but there’s enough good material to make my feelings about it fall in the positive domain.
Asspen (first aired 3/13/02): “When the boys hit the slopes of Aspen, Stan gets challenged to a ski race and must win in order to save the youth center, get the girl and free the trapped spirits of the Wakacha Vampire Indians.”
This one seems like it’ll go nowhere at first, but it quickly picks up steam. The elements that mock the relentless timeshare salesmen are funny, and the kids’ skiing morphs into an excellent parody of Eighties teen flicks. Chalk it up as another strong episode.
Freak Strike (first aired 3/20/02): “When the boys learn that talk shows offer special assistance to grossly disfigured people, they immediately sign Butters up as a guest with a strange deformity.”
After two good shows, “Strike” presents a relative dud. Even in 2002, the exploitative nature of daytime talk shows was old news, and the South Park boys bring nothing new to the table. Instead, this feels like little more than an excuse to invent goofy “freaks”, and it’s not a particularly clever or amusing episode.
Fun With Veal (first aired 3/27/02): “When the boys learn where veal comes from on a field trip to the local slaughterhouse, they calf-nap all the baby cows in town and blockade themselves in Stan’s bedroom.”
Usually South Park attempts some balance on hot button subjects like this, and a bit of that occurs during “Veal” due to the comic portrayal of animal rights activists as dirty hippies. However, the show usually goes for a bent that seems to protest the concept of veal. This doesn’t offer much entertainment, though I like the aspects that feature Cartman’s negotiations. Despite those, this ends up as a lackluster episode.
The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer (first aired 4/3/02): “The boys will stop at nothing to watch the new Terrance and Phillip movie trailer. Even if it means sitting through 30 minutes of ‘Russell Crowe: Fightin’ ‘Round the World’.”
Talk about a joke beaten into the ground! “Trailer” uses the slightest concept for a few laughs connected to all the problems the boys encounter when they try to see the ad. However, the whole Russell Crowe gag gets really old really quickly. It might’ve been amusing for 30 seconds or so, but we see way too much of that show. It makes this episode tedious and below average despite the cool TV that comes to life.
Professor Chaos (first aired 4/10/02): “When Cartman, Kyle and Stan fire Butters as their friend, Butters’ rejection causes him to uncover a deep, dark part of him that he never knew existed: Professor Chaos.”
“Chaos” ends up a winner due to both its subplots. Butters’ lame attempts to become a baddie amuse, and the guys’ trials to find a new fourth friend provide many good moments. I especially like the spoof on reality shows. This is a solid program.
The Simpsons Already Did It (first aired 6/26/02): “Professor Chaos returns with brand new evil schemes to wreak havoc on South Park. Unfortunately, the Simpsons have already done them all.”
This episode winks at the challenges animated series have when they live in the shadow of The Simpsons. South Park always got compared to the elder series and here they get to have some fun with that notion. It works well, especially as Butters’ mental state declines.
Red Hot Catholic Love (first aired 7/3/02): “When the Catholic Church sex scandal negatively impacts church attendance in South Park, Priest Maxi travels to Rome to confront religious leaders about a solution. After intensive counseling about the issue, the boys are still confused. Cartman distracts everyone when he pulls off what was believed to be scientifically impossible.”
The last part offers the best elements of “Love”. Cartman theorizes that if you put food in your mouth and crap out of your boot, then logically if you put food in your butt, you should crap out of your mouth. That’s a hilarious concept, and the way the show follows it works even better.
Otherwise, “Love” is a pretty average episode. The priests offer an easy target, and while the show provides some funny shots - the presence of aliens at the Roman convention proves surprising and amusing, and one surreal segment puts Maxi into the Vatican catacombs ala the old “Pitfall” videogame. Otherwise those parts of the program are lackluster. Still, the poop-related part of the show makes it good.
Free Hat (first aired 7/10/02): “The boys campaign to save movies from directors hell-bent on ‘improving them’ while the townspeople are consumed with their own crusade to free a convicted baby killer.”
Obviously the guys behind South Park feel pretty strongly against the alteration of films, as they stage a pretty relentless assault on Spielberg and Lucas here. Actually, I think it’s unfair to make Spielberg the villain and Lucas his patsy since George has displayed a much greater tendency to alter movies and leave the originals off the market; at least Steven doesn’t usually try to remove the original versions. Anyway, it’s a funny show that makes its points with good spoofs.
Bebe’s Boobs Destroy Society (first aired 7/17/02): “Cartman gets kicked out of the gang when Bebe develops boobs and the boys lose their minds, threatening their friendships and society as we know it.”
Everyone knows guys love breasts, and “Boobs” has fun with that concept. The show plays up the impact Bebe’s mosquito bites have on the boys and goes to extremes in an amusing way. It gets a little dopey as the boys regress on the evolutionary ladder, but most of the time it works as clever and funny.
Child Abduction Is Not Funny (first aired 7/24/02): “In an effort to protect their children from kidnappers, the parents of South Park hire the owner and operator of the local City Wok to build a Great Wall around the city.”
The absurd wall-related side of the show is its best. When Mongolians appear out of nowhere to threaten it, we find many funny moments. The abduction-related parts aren’t quite as interesting, but they make their point.
A Ladder to Heaven (first aired 11/6/02): “The boys have to find a way to reach Kenny before they lose their chance at untold candy riches with a ladder to heaven.”
“Ladder” doesn’t make a tremendous impact, but it usually hits its targets. It mocks the exploitation of 9/11 as well as the way groups misinterpret causes for their own needs. This never becomes a great episode, but it manages to work fairly well.
The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers (first aired 11/13/02): “The boys embark on a journey to return The Lord of the Rings to the Two Towers video store but their parents try to stop them to get back the ‘precious’ porno they accidentally left in the box.”
This show boasts a cute concept but lackluster execution. Really, it feels like a five-minute segment stretched for a whole episode. Maybe we get a giggle or two, but most of the episode drags and plods.
The Death Camp of Tolerance (first aired 11/20/02): “Mr. Slave and Lemmiwinks make their debut as Mr. Garrison desperately tries to get fired from his new job as the boys’ fourth grade teacher.”
Season Six rebounds very well with this excellent program. With Mr. Slave, the Museum of Tolerance, and Lemmiwinks the gerbil, we find many amusing elements. Political correctness gets a nice jab in this terrific show.
The Biggest Douche In the Universe (first aired 11/27/02): “When a famous psychic fails to help him exorcise Kenny from his body, Cartman and Chef travel to the moors of Scotland, where Chef’s mom tries a little of her voodoo magic on him.”
It’s great to see Chef’s parents again. I loved their prior appearance, and they continue to amuse here. I like the parts that depict Stan’s failed attempts to get through to gullible people, and the show really slams “psychic” John Edward. While not as good as “Tolerance”, “Douche” entertains.
My Future Self ‘N Me (first aired 12/4/02): “When a 32-year-old man claiming to be Stan from the future shows up in South Park, young Stan is forced to come to terms with the loser he will become.”
“Self” boasts a fun concept, though the execution sags at times. Some good moments appear, especially when Cartman runs his own revenge business. Otherwise, the show is hit or miss, as it moves slowly and can become tedious.
Red Sleigh Down (first aired 12/11/02): “When Cartman has to score one big ‘nice’ to be eligible for Christmas presents, he joins up with Santa, Mr. Hankey and Jesus to attempt to bring Christmas to the downtrodden citizens of Iraq.”
Season Six ends on a low note with this erratic show. The only real laughs come from Jimmy’s interminable rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas”. The episode periodically revisits this and always gets laughs from it. The Santa parts are crude and unfunny, though. A show that focused solely on Cartman’s attempts to be nice would be more amusing than this choppy spoof of action films.