South Park returned tonight with its first new episode since April. Technically speaking, this is not the beginning of a new season, but rather the eighth episode of the eleventh season. But, for all intents and purposes, it’s a new season. Trey Parker and Matt Stone don’t have episodes in the bag They create each episode of South Park the week before the show airs, allowing a freshness that doesn’t allow jokes to go stale. Which is weird, because tonight’s South Park was centered around Chris Hanson jokes, which people have now been making for the better part of a year. I’m as big a South Park fan as you’ll find, but I’m no blind follower. It’s impossible to deny that Trey and Matt occasionally misfire with an idea, and tonight was one of those unfortunate misfires. Next Wednesday will probably be hysterical; that’s the way these things go. But this first episode back is not indicative of the South Park’s last few years of consistent high quality.
Here’s the episode: Cartman learns about Tourette’s Syndrome and thinks it’d be sweet to swear at will. So, he pretends to have Tourette’s, gets officially diagnosed, and starts swearing in increasingly vile and profane ways at school and in public. Kyle catches wind of this ruse early on, but his call out of Cartman backfires. Cartman sends a letter to Chris Hanson of Dateline and asks him if he’ll do a special report on him. He agrees.
I’ll save you the rest of the recap because, well, it’s South Park and the story isn’t all that important. Just know that at the end of the episode a large number of pedophiles shoot themselves in the head on national TV. Trey and Matt are satirizing an incident that happened during a taping of To Catch a Predator that was recently profiled in Esquire Magazine. A man who the Dateline team had targeted for illicit online chatting decided to not show up at the Dateline house, so the crew decided to confront him at his own house. After a long stand-off, the man shot and killed himself.
Usually, I love what the South Park guys do. But, tonight’s episode was disjointed and a little off-putting. The Tourette’s thing was funny for awhile (Cartman swearing is just inherently amusing), but the To Catch a Predator stuff wasn’t at all funny and felt hastily thrown in. There’s always next week.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of Comedy Central)