Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 8, 2014)
Here we’ll check out 2011’s Season 15 of South Park. I’ll examine all 14 programs in the way presented on the discs, which also is the order in which they were first broadcast. The synopses come from the show’s official website.
Human CentiPad (aired 4/27/11): “Kyle is intimately involved in the development of a revolutionary new product called HumancentiPad.”
That fusion of the “cult of Apple” and the horrifying Human Centipede movie offers some amusement, but as usual, Cartman’s moments work the best. The scenes in which he attempts to sweet-talk his mom are amusing, and his brattiness also delights. I admit I miss the days in which the series censored profanity, though; for some reason, it’s funnier without the explicit language.
Funnybot (aired 5/4/11): “Jimmy hosts the Special Ed Department's First Annual Comedy Awards.”
“Funnybot” exists almost solely as some sort of judgment on awards shows. That’s a pretty narrow focus and not one that serves the series terribly well. Expect fewer laughs than usual in this lackluster program.
Royal Pudding (aired 5/11/11): “The Prince of Canada is about to take a Princess and Ike is obsessed with the Royal Wedding.”
While South Park mocks all nations, its take on Canada always delights the most. I love the way the show treats it as some freaky Neverland, and those aspects of this episode – especially during the hilarious depiction of the wedding – are a hoot. A few sags occur, but this remains a pretty solid show.
TMI (aired 5/18/11): “Cartman throws a fit when the boy's penis sizes are posted on the school bulletin board, He is sent to anger management therapy.”
The episode’s focus on penis sizes isn’t particularly amusing, but as usual, Cartman gets in some good moments. In particular, the scene in which a therapist tries to provoke Eric’s anger fares the best. The rest of the show seems more hit or miss, but it’s still a pretty decent one.
Crack Baby Athletic Association (aired 5/25/11): “Kyle gets in on the ground floor of Cartman's latest business venture, The Crack Baby Athletic Association.”
Sometimes South Park goes too far into the offensive, and that occurs here. The show actually raises some interesting questions related to whether or not the ends justify the means, and it goes after the NCAA/sleazy charitable organizations as well. The bizarre Slash subplot is pretty funny, but the awfulness of the crack baby exploitation concept is just too much to take.
City Sushi (aired 6/1/11): “Butters' parents take him to see a specialist.”
“Sushi” hits close to home. In real-life, I work as a school psychologist, so this episode – which confronts overdiagnose/overmedication of kids – enters my world. And it has some points, as we can be too quick to slap labels on kids; I just fear that the episode veers a little too close to “all psychology is wrong” territory, though, and the Chinese/Japanese side of things is fairly lame.
You’re Getting Old (aired 6/8/11): “Just after Stan’s 10th birthday, his worldview starts to change and so do his friendships.”
I spend a lot of time on an Internet forum mainly populated by music fans in their 40s and 50s, so I’m well-acquainted with the sides portrayed here: the oldsters who hate newer music, and vice versa. This being South Park, the series takes the “it sounds like crap” concept literally, which is kind of lame, but I like the point it makes, even though I don’t agree that anyone “old” who claims to like a younger generation’s music is a poseur (says the 47-year-old Gaga/Katy Perry fan).
Ass Burgers (aired 10/5/11): “Cartman finds a unique way to cope with Asperger's Syndrome.”
That synopsis doesn’t really make a lot of sense, as Stan is the one who gets dianosed with Asperger’s. Cartman hears the term different and starts his own successful burger store in a goofy but amusing subplot. As for Stan, he completes a journey begun earlier when everything started to look/sound like shit to him. It’s an ambitious and satisfying show.
The Last of the Meheecans (aired 10/12/11): “Cartman joins the U.S. Border Patrol.”
The concept of the kids playing Texans vs. Mexicans is goofy enough at the start, but the episode just goes surreal from there. The main twist comes from Butters’ persona as Mexican “Montequilla” and his adventures. Throw in the reverse immigration angle and this is a strange but solid show.
Bass to Mouth (aired 10/19/11): “The kid's most scandalous secrets are being leaked on an outrageous new gossip website.”
After a few good episodes, S15 sags with the limp “Bass”. It goes with an attempt to parody Wikileaks but this comes across as too on the nose. A few decent moments occur but much of it sputters.
Broadway Bro Down (aired 10/26/11): “After Randy takes Sharon to see a hit musical, he becomes Broadways biggest fan.”
A spoof of Broadway offers a bit extra bite when you know that the South Park guys scored with Book of Mormon - and the episode does refer to that production eventually. That gag is amusing but makes the program feel a bit self-serving. The slam on vegans isn’t clever, either; though a gag tries to make it less harsh, it doesn’t really work. The episode has some laughs but seems too one-note for me.
1% (aired 11/2/11): “The 99% is ganging up on Eric Cartman.”
Cartman episodes are usually strong, but this one’s not so hot. It offers clumsy political commentary that never gains much traction. Granted, I like Clyde Frog moments, but much of the rest of the show droops.
A History Channel Thanksgiving (aired 11/9/11): “The boys are getting close to discovering the truth about the first Thanksgiving.”
Although it’s not exactly the most insightful view to observe that the History Channel often lacks much focus on history, the episode still milks that issue for laughs. I like the way it works aliens into the theme and goes off onto its own quirky tangents for a reasonably entertaining piece.
The Poor Kid (aired 11/16/11): “Kenny ends up in the foster care system after his parents are arrested.”
Kenny feels like the Maggie Simpson of South Park: he should count as a major character but he rarely gets much to do. That means an episode that centers on him becomes more of a challenge, and “Kid” doesn’t do much to change the impression of Kenny as a background role. At least Cartman’s reaction to foster care offers some amusement.