Oh man, how do you follow up one of the best South Park episodes in recent memory? There’s pretty much no way the show can top last week’s Kanye West episode—even Kanye reacted fairly positively to the drubbing he received at the hands of a gay fish. (“SOUTH PARK MURDERED ME LAST NIGHT AND IT’S PRETTY FUNNY. IT HURTS MY FEELINGS BUT WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM SOUTH PARK! I ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN WORKING ON MY EGO THOUGH… THE WRITERS AT SOUTH PARK ARE REALLY NICE PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE. THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO DRAW MY CREW. THAT WAS PRETTY FUNNY ALSO!!")
And tonight? The Pinewood Derby. It’s got to be a letdown, right? Oh yes, a huge, huge letdown. Nothing made me groan out loud, but man, this was 30 minutes of boring punctuated with just a couple of laughs—the jokes almost felt like an afterthought to a story that was just built piecemeal from a bunch of movie plots.
So Randy and Stan are entering the Pinewood Derby, and Randy is psyched to cheat—that’s got some potential. He’s stolen a superconducting magnet (dressed as Princess Leia, that was a little funny) and he inserts it into the wooden car in order to beat his rival, Mr. Hollis. (Never seen him before, we’ll never see him again, right?) But the whole first third of the show, building the car and racing it, was all leadup to the real plot, with aliens landing on Earth to make contact. The only other real South Park style laugh in the entire first ten minutes was Mr. Hollis shooting himself in front of his son. All else was blah.
And then it’s on to a sorta-parody of Star Trek: First Contact, a movie that, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really ripe for parody. It didn’t help that the big joke—the alien talked like ’30s movie gangster Edward G. Robinson, har har—fell pretty much totally flat. Though I often feel like South Park frequently neglects its B-story in favor of the main line, tonight really could’ve used an entirely separate plot. Every good joke here would’ve easily fit in half an episode, with room to spare.
The “message,” of course, was about the dangers of lying and greed, but even that was pretty silly: Only Mexico buying hospitals and waterparks (and the space cops figuring it out) was good for a laugh. (Also not bad: nuking Finland for wanting to rat out the rest of the world to the space cops.)
But overall—South Park episodes don’t get much lazier or uninspired than this one. It was like half an idea stretched out forever and ever, and with very little payoff. I guess you have to take the good with the bad, and maybe they shot their wad with last week’s episode. But man, this one ranks among the least exciting ever.
— “Will it be like in Star Trek: First Contact, or will it be more like Contact with Jodie Foster?” Add A Simple Plan and Mars Attacks to that list, guys.
— Okay, the name Baby Fark McGeezax gave me a slight giggle.
— “How stupid is your species?”
— The final line was supposed to be simple and bitingly direct, but it actually just described the episode: “Well that sucks.”