Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 9, 2014)
Here we go – time to look at Season 16 of South Park! I’ll examine each of these programs in the way presented on the DVDs, which also is the order in which they were first broadcast. The synopses come straight from the series’ official site.
Reverse Cowgirl (aired 3/14/12): “When one of the boys leaves the toilet seat up after he uses the bathroom, an unspeakable tragedy occurs.” Like many South Park episodes, “Cowgirl” goes topical with its comments about the TSA, but it doesn’t make especially strong points. Yes, one can argue the TSA has become invasive, but the show doesn’t offer a good alternative; it makes some remarks about personal responsibility that have nothing to do with the need for airport security.
The show still has its funny moments, even if it resorts to generic lawyer-bashing at times. The debate about toilet seats amuses, and we get some good elements overall. The end result remains up and down, though.
Cash for Gold (aired 3/21/12): “Cartman launches his own gem shopping channel.” That’s part of it, but the show’s more about an assault on the way home shopping channels cheat the elderly. This may be a good point, but it feels dated and without much cleverness. The Cartman bits occasionally amuse, but the show mostly sputters due to its own lack of real insight.
Faith Hilling (aired 3/28/12): “The kids are in danger when new trends start to evolve and shift at a rapid pace.” When the episode makes fun of the stupidity of memes – with its own idiotic memes – it amuses, but as often occurs, South Park tries too hard to make a global point. This side doesn’t go anywhere and comes across as heavy-handed.
Jewpacabra (aired 4/4/12): “The town's big Easter Egg Hunt is in jeopardy when Cartman produces video evidence of a mysterious creature lurking in the woods.” This one starts out as fairly ham-fisted, but it gets better when Cartman really starts to fear his own invention. That twist allows it to deliver some decent laughs.
Butterballs (aired 4/11/12): “Butters is the victim of an unlikely bully.” This turns into a largely one-joke episode, as it attempts to derive most of its humor from unusual bullies. The gag gets old pretty quickly and this ends up as a forgettable show.
I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining (aired 4/18/12): “The boys' ziplining adventure becomes a terrifying test of survival.” The show makes fun of reality shows as well as the less than exciting nature of some “extreme sports” here. It indulges in some of the usual grossness but it delivers more comedy than usual and becomes one of the best episodes of the year.
Cartman Finds Love (aired 4/25/12): “The time has finally come for Cartman to let a special someone know exactly how he feels.” Like many South Park episodes, this one falters when it feels compelled to spell out its subtext. It’s funnier when we understand Cartman’s unstated motivations; once the show makes his goals clear, it loses points. Still, it has many good moments and turns into a mostly solid show.
Sarcastaball (aired 9/26/12): “South Park Elementary takes steps to address football's concussion crisis.” Like the prior episode, “Sarcastaball” bludgeons us with its point. Also like the last show, though, this one overcomes the ham-fisted bits to provide a lot of humor, and those elements turn this into another positive program.
Raising the Bar (aired 10/3/12): “Cartman finally admits he's fat and immediately gets a mobility scooter.” After a good run of shows, S16 craters with the mean-spirited “Bar”. Granted, the series always comes with a nasty streak, but it seems to go too far even by its own standards here. A few laughs still emerge, but the program walks a line between insightful and cruel that favors the latter too much.
Insecurity (aired 10/10/12): “Cartman signs up for a home security system.” Like many episodes, this one attempts social commentary. Like too many, it flops. “Insecurity” bases its premise on a feeble construct and never really makes the points it hopes to deliver, so it winds up as a flat show.
Going Native (aired 10/17/12): “It is time for Butters to begin a journey where he will follow in the path of his Hawaiian ancestors.” While it never turns into a total delight, “Native” usually works well. It starts as a Star Trek spoof and then turns more general, but it always remains pretty entertaining. Pissed-off Butters makes this one good.
A Nightmare on Face Time (aired 10/24/12): “Randy’s big plans for Halloween night keep Stan from trick or treating with his friends.” The Shining becomes the main target in this quality parody. Granted, it’s a spoof that depresses me – I miss video stores! – but it scores good points and delivers a lot of laughs.
A Scause for Applause (aired 10/31/12): “A serious doping scandal shakes everyone's faith in a beloved icon. Everyone who once supported the fallen hero is now cutting off their symbolic yellow wristbands.” The zillions of cause-related baubles get the sharp end of the stick here, and it’s a mostly solid bit of satire. The Jesus-related side gets a little dicey, but it all comes as part of the overall point.
Obama Wins! (aired 11/7/12): “Eric Cartman is hiding something in his bedroom that could change the entire outcome of the Presidential election.” Obviously this one becomes more dated than usual, but it still works. It scores some topical points and finishes the year on a good note.