Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 9, 2019)
Will South Park ever call it a day? Sure, but we’re not there yet, as evidenced by this Complete Twenty-Second Season release.
I’ll examine all 10 programs in the way presented on the discs, which also is the order in which they were first broadcast. The synopses come from the package itself.
Dead Kids (aired 9/26/18): “There is a school shooting at South Park Elementary. The parents are confused by Sharon’s overreaction and Randy is desperate to help his wife get her emotions under control.”
Not known for its subtlety, South Park manages a surprisingly nuanced look at school shootings, one in which it implies the prevalence of these via the nonchalant way the kids respond. It’s a clever approach to a hot button subject, and the secondary plots also work well, especially when Cartman goes on a crusade to prove Token saw Black Panther. “Kids” opens S22 well.
A Boy and A Priest (aired 10/3/18): “Father Maxi is upset when the backlash over the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals makes it into his weekly service. Butters feels sorry for Maxi and reaches out.”
Pop culture has already beaten the Catholic Church sex scandal to death, so South Park finds it tough to locate a new angle. Though it offers a few decent twists, too much of it relies on seedy material, elements that make it a cheesy episode.
The Problem With a Poo (aired 10/10/18): “Mr. Hankey is overseeing South Patk’s Christmas pageant, but he puts his job in jeopardy by posting a series of offensive tweets while on Ambien. Meanwhile, PC Principal and Vice Principal Strong Woman deal with the aftermath of their affair: PC babies.”
The episode’s title alludes to the controversy that arose related to The Simpsons Apu, and some of the Mr. Hankey elements reflect that. However, the show doesn’t really take on the topic, as most of it comes with jokes about Mr. Hankey’s Roseanne Barr-style tweets until we get a gratuitous jab toward Simpsons at the end.
The PC Principal elements don’t fare better. Both he and VP Strong Woman offer one-note characters, and it’s not an especially funny note, so the focus on their story fizzles.
Tegridy Farms (aired 10/17/18): “Randy moves his family out to the country to start a new life on the farm. With a little help from Towelie, Randy’s weed is poised to make a huge splash in the legal marijuana market. Meanwhile, Kyle tries to protect Ike when the vaping craze hits South Park Elementary.”
For reasons I’ll never understand, Randy became the focal point of many South Park episodes over the last few years. I think he’s one of the series’ less interesting characters, so his prominence hasn’t been appealing to me. The emphasis on Randy makes this a lackluster show, and the vaping scenes don’t redeem it.
The Scoots (aired 10/31/18): “It’s every boy and girl for themselves this Halloween when the kids head out for tricks or treats. This year, e-scooters change the holiday for everyone.”
By coincidence, I just read about how e-scooter patrons leave them abandoned all around town. I’ve never actually seen anyone on them, though I see them strewn around the area.
Whatever the case, “Scoots” offers a rebound episode, as it fares much better than its last few predecessors. The show brings a few clever twists to the subject matter and manages a lot of laughs.
Time to Get Cereal (aired 11/7/18): “ManBearPig returns and starts killing the residents of South Park. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny turn to the only man who might be able to put an end to its reign of terror.”
“Time” essentially offers the first part of a two-part package, so I’ll save my comments for the next show.
Nobody Got Cereal? (aired 11/14/18): “ManBearPig continues to lay waste to South Park but the townspeople are all too busy playing Red Dead Redemption 2 to do anything about it.”
“ManBearPig” debuted inauspiciously back in Season 10, an episode that gleefully mocked Al Gore as Chicken Little. 12 years later, South Park tries to make up for its ignorant position of 2006.
Sort of. While the two “Cereal” episodes backtrack on their mockery of climate change, they still make Gore look like a doofus. Granted, we can’t expect South Park to suddenly treat Gore with respect, but the continued silly, immature attitude conveyed to him feels odd since the series now wants to back off the circa 2006 view.
The Red Dead Redemption theme adds a minor twist, but it’s not enough to overcome the episodes’ flaws. All the Gore gags feel cheesy and drag down these shows.
Buddha Box (aired 11/28/18): “Cartman is diagnosed with anxiety. Working the diagnosis to his advantage, he uses it as an excuse to do absolutely anything he wants.”
Traditionally, Cartman-centered episodes have been among the series’ best, but S22 has largely avoided the character. “Box” brings him to the fore, but it mostly concentrates on the modern dependence on cell phones. That’s not a particularly novel concept, and “Box” fails to find much insight.
Unfulfilled (aired 12/5/18): “The citizens of South Park enjoy all the perks of being a company town when the Amazon Fulfillment Center moves in. Everything seems to be going fine until an accident at the facility and the contradictions inherent in capitalism threaten to bring down the entire system.”
This becomes another two-part set, so I’ll address “Unfulfilled” when I go over the next show.
Bike Parade (aired 12/12/18): “Amazon’s CEO continues his efforts to crush the strike at the Amazon Fulfillment Center while the boys prepare for the annual bike parade. Randy and Towelie’s weed business grows in some unexpected ways as the town tries to cope with the stress of not getting their Christmas packages delivered.”
S22 ends on a limp note. Like the cell phone addiction mocked in “Box”, the modern dependence on Amazon feels like low-hanging fruit. There’s not enough good content for one episode, much less two.