Thursday, November 6, 2008
So I actually liked the new South Park. It wasn't the most politically incisive or satirical episode they've done (that would be "They took our jobs!" and Towelie's Million Little Fibers, respectively), but it was a fresh take on the election's characters. Though I've been dying for the show to do a full-fledged Sarah Palin episode--if they could spin Britney, they could spin Sarah--what we got here was, if anything, unexpected. And they definitely nailed the whole mocking-the-ridiculousness-of-stupid-rich-people-thief-movies.
Unlike many longtime fans of South Park, I've come to embrace and enjoy the direction the show has taken over the past few seasons. I anticipate and appreciate the increased focus on cultural relevancy and topical humor, as opposed to the cruder character-diven plots of the early seasons. Many feel that the show has lost its soul, and wonder what happened to the days when South Park was about four boys who got into trouble in their hometown. But there's only so much you can do with that; if you like the fact that the show's still on the air, you have to accept its recent penchant for satire and allusions.
I do, however, have two qualms with Matt and Trey's creative decisions as of late. First off, whatever happened to Cartman being a bad guy? The show went through a "Why do the other three hang out with him?" phase, but then he came to, for the most part, side with Stan, Kyle, and Kenny in ther fights against the government, their parents, the homless--anyone who pissed them off and infringed on their right to be carefree, small-town boys. But the whole beauty of Cartman is that he is a douchebag, and that he hates the three kids he seems to always hang out with (especially Kyle.) Taking that away decimates so much of the chemistry between these characters and makes their misadventures, topical as they are, less fun.
Then there's the fact that if you pride yourself on staying remarkably up-to-date, you've got to stick to that. So why the hell did they parody Cloverfield this season? I know the point of the episode was to show off a cool animation technique, and it was indeed cool to watch, but...seriously? "I'm so startled!" as a punchline? Cloverfield came out months ago; its time came and went. Since South Park's strength the past few years has been its ability to churn out episodes concurrent with national events, seeing a months-too-late parody was kind of sad and definitely stale. And for a show in its twelfth season, "stale" is the last thing you want to be.