South Park “Cock Magic” Review
Season 18, Episode 8
Leave it to “South Park” to take an 11-year-old card game and make the best episode so far this season.
South Park has done this before – taking nerd staples like “World of Warcraft,” “Guitar Hero,” and Pokemon, and creating great episodes that imbibe themselves into the fandom’s own psuedo-canon and joke repertoire.
“Cock Magic” isn’t better than any of these previous efforts, but it does rank near them, and stands as the best episode this season and the closest we’ve gotten to a true classic-in-the-making episode. It’s the first time all season I feel like the show has actually left the “South Park” stamp on pop culture: “Magic: The Gathering” and cock fighting are going to now be forever linked and oft referenced, and that’s a feat the show has failed to hit recently.
Oddly enough (and maybe for the better) the plot strayed away from overly topical references this week to focus on the chicken fights – the hens playing M:TG was a great gag – even if it was pretty predictable. The boys going to pick out a rooster and the farmer’s commentary was great, going through the different types of hens and how they each specialized in a different type of mana. And the free range joke probably would have meant more if I still played M:TG, but it was still another solid jab to throw in there.
It did seem a little weird that the show mentioned animal rights issues (something the show has done in the past both with PETA and the veal episode), but only went surface-deep with the whole idea. Kenny originally seemed to have *some* type of problem with using chickens, but the show was overly dismissive of this thinking without explaining why.
Randy’s plot, on the other cock, left quite a bit to be desired. It was weak, even for a B story arc, although I am surprised that they were able to get that much dick past the censors. It didn’t really fit in with the episode. I’m not sure if that was a subtle hint of a weed legalization parody in the whole “people are accepting it now and the older generation needs to show them how its done,” but the show can pull a much stronger second story than just having Randy run around and do gag humor magic with his dick. All that to say, I still got a shock laugh when he actually tried cutting through his penis as part of the magic act. And an even bigger one when he actually pulled his severed penis out from behind the little girl’s ear.
Some of the best “South Park” stories come from the boys just being middle schools boys and the girls being middle school girls, but beside a few (well received) girl’s volleyball jokes, the story didn’t amount to much. I would have rather seen this given more screen time than Randy’s plot, at the very least. Pulling M:TG and volleyball together at the end kind of worked, but also felt like a half-baked idea and the show working backwards from the final scene (much like last week).
I do want to make one note of concern – South Park can’t simply keep speaking to the same audience, and M:TG is right up there with Oculus and “Game of Thrones” in terms of its nerd-base. I’ve never thought about the show’s audience as much as I have this season, and as it struggles with voice perhaps doubling down on these more evergreen topics is helpful, but it can’t stick to the same area of geeky jokes forever.
It may not have been especially topical or drawn from last week’s headlines, but “Cock Magic” gave us something this season has sorely lacked: a South Park that has left its mark on another facet of pop culture that will be remembered after this season wraps.
Notes and quotes:
-Who doesn’t want to watch girl’s volleyball?!?
-Man, that M:TG player Kenny faced was pretty spot on.
-Not sure what to say about Randy’s cock gag, but a tad surprise they were able to get that past the censors. Aside from that, really felt out of place in the larger scheme of things.
-LOL they named the chicken McNuggets.
-That shit made regular Magic: The Gathering look like girl’s volleyball.
-Girl’s volleyball isn’t a joke. Jokes are hard and require skill.
-ESPN Illegal just reminds me of “Dodgeball’s” ESPN 8 the ocho joke.
-I used to play M:TG, but it’s been so long that I can’t speak to how accurate the cards and their abilities were, but that didn’t really seem to take much away from enjoying what was going on.
-OK, maybe Randy’s plot wasn’t that bad after all.