South Park Season 18 Episode 05 “The Magic Bush” Review: Lots of bush

“The Magic Bush,” as the name implies, was a lesson in just how many pubic hair jokes “South Park” can cram into one episode.

The answer? A lot.

After the flop that was “Handicar,” this season really needed a constant laugh-a-thon, and this week delivered a near rapid-fire constant succession of jokes, even if they all came down to bush. It was solid and, for the most part, worked.

Drones were the original issue at hand here, after Cartman learned that Butters (well, his dad), had a drone and decided to give it a little fly around town. After being caught filming Laura Tucker (Craig’s mom) naked, the whole town is up in arms over privacy issues, thus tying together people’s privacy fears over drones to the massive celebrity nude photo leak in September. Pretty normal jump for the show to make, all things considered.

The leak connection itself made sense, but was woefully underdeveloped. Sure, both issues have privacy issues at their core, but tying them together didn’t really add anything to the whole premise (aside from a few oddly aimed Jennifer Lawrence’s butt hole jokes). Each issue almost seems worthy of a dedicated “South Park,” and deserved some type of social commentary here to sell the premise, tie a bow on the episode, and really pull everything together.

Juggling two issues together is tough, and then the show added on a third. The next twist was worth it though, when a police drone shot down the unarmed, and of course, black, community watch drone, leading to a hilarious drone candle light vigil and poor South Park turning into a police-drone state. I’m a little surprised it took the show this long to turn to Ferguson, but like the leak plot thread, the show just left it dangling unsure of what to say or how to say it.

The show’s hardest task this week was taking these three very complex and hot-button issues and giving them each their due while still generating laughs. The laughs here mostly came right from the original concept of Craig’s mom’s bush, but there were just too many other things going on plot wise that held the episode back.

Making the connections was clever, but what the show then continued to do with the tri-premise was nothing special. It needed to go deeper into the real crux of each of these issues. It wasn’t quite paint-by-numbers, but the show is really struggling with a defining voice this season. Rarely does an episode leave you wondering what Matt and Trey’s thoughts on a topic are, and yet that laser-sharp focus is still lacking, even half way through this season’s run.

Butter’s Dad’s plot got the weirdest arc this week, and the screen time could probably have been better spent fleshing out everything else going on. His ‘losing enthusiasm’ joke was solid…the first time, but the bearded crazy (No, not Craig’s mom) paranoia that came toward the end felt like the kind of escalation the show has done time and time again. It’s also a little out of character, considering he’s never had problems blaming Butters for misbehaving before.

That left bush jokes, and a few typical “South Park” delivery and situational moments to carry the brunt of the heavy lifting. And even though there was so much focus on Craig’s mom, there was oddly little of Craig. It seemed weird to not have him go after Cartman, and weirder still that Kyle didn’t actually tell anybody that he learned that Cartman, Butters, and Kenny were behind everything. It’s one of the strongest episodes the show has put forward this season – and yes, it was funny – but by trying to juggle too many balls this week, some got dropped and were left underdeveloped and discarded. Lost in the hedges, maybe.

Notes and quotes:

-“Your dad has a fucking drone?!?”

-“Kenny’s here. I told him all about it.”

-Pretty much every bush joke. Hedge clippers, Tarzan, forest ranger…

-“Fuck you, hypocrite dick-spy.”

-This episode probably couldn’t have been done a season or two ago before they finally figured out the South Park town map.

-Yup, looks like continuity for this season is, sadly, over.

-If I was a betting man, my bet is Gamer Gate next week.

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