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For 14 seasons, I pick 14 stories

Published: October 1, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.


Oct. 6 marks the return of “South Park” with the second half of its 14th season. If you are at all interested in the show, but have either never gotten around to watching it or are just looking for some top episodes to see, look no further. I’ve chosen 14 episodes/stories (approximately one from each season) and included a short explanation of why they are must-watch episodes. All of these episodes (with one exception) are available for free online at www.Southparkstudios.com.

Season one and two: “Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut” and “Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut.” The first episode in this pair was the finale of the first season. It raised the question who is Cartman’s father? Many men, it turns out, were potential fathers but the answer didn’t come till the next season with part two of the episode. And what a surprise it was. The plot twists alone were sometimes ridiculous, but the inability to settle in and get comfortable with the idea that someone was Cartman’s father made the comedy more effective.

Season two: “Terrance and Phillip in Not without my Anus.” This episode is a must-watch for one reason. In honor of the show’s return to television for a second season, the creators put together an entire episode as an April Fool’s Joke. The entire episode features the show-within-the-show “Terrance and Phillip.”

Season three: “Chinpokomon.” Back in 1999 Pokemon was awesome. I know it, you know it, your first-year roommate knows it, even if he or she denies it. This episode stabs at the craziness of trends. When the parents of “South Park” begin to notice that something sinister is going on under the surface of the trend, the Japanese toy company behind Chinpokomon resorts to some funny ego boosting tactics to distract the American parents. The solution to the Chinpokomon problem is both funny and a spot-on solution for fads in general.

Season four: “Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?” and “Probably.” In this two-part episode the children of South Park get caught up in their religion and decide to start their own church. Meanwhile in Hell, Satan is caught in a love triangle between on-again off-again partner Saddam Hussein and a new guy. Satan basically steals the show with a plot that inspires pity for the dark lord.

Season five: “Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants.” Season five has many great episodes (see honorable mention below) but I feel I must mention the first episode to air after 9/11, in which the kids travel to Afghanistan and, by a chain of bizarre events, Cartman singlehandedly takes down bin Laden as though it is an episode of “Looney Toons.” Another notable element of the episode is that it is one of the few where Cartman turns out to be the hero who saves the day.

Season six: “The Return of the Fellowship of the Rings to the Two Towers.” The boys loan a copy of “The Lord of the Rings” to Butters, but they accidentally give him a pornographic video instead and it becomes “precious” to all who watch it.

Season eight: “The Passion of the Jew.” Cartman sees “The Passion of the Christ” and begins to act like Hitler. Kyle gets the idea that Jews should apologize for killing Jesus while Stan and Kenny go to California torecover lost money.

Season 8: “Woodland Critter Christmas.” A Christmas story in which we learn that Cartman can imagine the most evil beings in all fiction (to be proven later).

Season nine: “Trapped in the Closet.” Stan has an experience with Scientology and accidentally offends Tom Cruise.

Season 10: “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” The boys become obsessed with World of Warcraft and end up saving the “world” from an evil hacker with no social life.

Season 11: “Imaginationland 1-3.” This three-part episode is chock-full of references to imaginary characters; the most epic and obscure references can be found. It also cements Cartman’s creations as the most evil of all. Additionally, this episode finally gives Butters a degree of prominence, making him not just the receiver of misfortune.

Season 12: “About Last Night …” Pokes fun at the 2008 presidential election and managed to incorporate McCain and Obama’s speeches as well as air the night after the election. While the plot seems a bit improbable, the idea of the candidates working together is itself hilarious.

Season 13: “Fishsticks.” After what Kanye did at the 2009 VMAs (this episode aired beforehand) this episode became required watching. The plot builds around a single joke and Kanye West’s over-the-top reaction to it. Aditiionaly, this episode focuses on Jimmy, an often overlooked character.

Season 14: “200” and “201.” Comedy Central has made these the only episodes that are not legally available to watch. Trust me when I say that they were awesome. And if you don’t trust me, read my review in The Hoot archives.

Honorable Mention: “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo,” “It Hits the Fan,” “Super Best Friends,” “Cartoon Wars (parts 1 and 2)” and “Go God Go (parts 1 and 12).”

There you have it, 14 stories for 14 seasons. Hopefully the second half of season 14 will continue this great tradition. Only time will tell.