Category Archives: South Park

South Park “Freemium Isn’t Free” Review

South Park “Freemium Isn’t Free” Review

Season 18, Episode 6

 

 

Sometimes even “South Park” sinks to easy targets.

This was one of those weeks. Free-to-play games aren’t new. They are annoying, and yes, they trick players into starting with a free game, and then charge them for microtransactions. But are they worthy of a full “South Park?” As the Canadians say: “Eh.”

Despite the ease of the target, the show opened fairly strong. Terrance and Phillip got a humorous breakdown of the science behind freemium gaming, trying to draw a hard comparison to the people making these games and the alcohol industry, as well as making a comparison between the people who get addicted to the games and alcoholics.

The show even threw in a bit of live action with a mock alcohol advertisement, pushing the parallel even further. The ad was great – a strong and hilarious attack on the alcohol advertising machine – and with a fierceness the show hasn’t really shown this season.
The alcoholism comparison is a bit extreme though. Sure, people can be addicted to gaming and people can – and do- have problems with keeping track of their phone bills on free-to-play and mobile apps, but comparing it to people struggling with alcoholism is a stretch.
Comparing the industries and the tactics they use (curious if that consumption number for alcohol is correct or inflated) is totally fair, but the show had a much better case to be against the industry itself than the product consumers themselves, be they gamers or drinkers. I have no problem with gaming as a topic for the show (South Park tends to understand and lampoon gaming culture quite well), but it just wasn’t the best decision to pick a lesser target, and then focus on an even weaker audience within that target.

Throwing in Randy’s drinking problem (or cultural wine drinking) was worth a smirk, but there’s still a big difference between being addicted to buying things on an app and being an alcoholic.

Perhaps the show was going for bigger moral implications here, especially when it brought in Satan to try to explain to Stan that anything that is fun can become addicting, so the moral of the week seems to be to not have fun ever? It’s an odd week – even in South Park – when Satan is the voice of reason here, explaining to Stan how dopamine and addiction work. When he finally gets his hands on the game (decrying that temptation should be nuanced!), he possesses Stan and goes off to battle the Canadian Devil and things start to unravel and fall apart pretty quickly. The show just can’t stick endings this season.

At least there was a one-issue focus here, something the show has drastically lacked of late. Picking one topic to stick to – even if free-to-play games are tiny fish in the pop culture ocean – works when the show is struggling to find its voice, as it is this season. It’s tried several multitopic episodes, and, well they’ve suffered as a result.

It just seems weird to dedicate a whole episode to free-to-play games when so many other topics have been scrambled into one unfocused episode, like last week. The mock ad was a rare glimpse into the fiery, opinionated “South Park” that has been missing this season, and hopefully it continues with scorn and focus on the (now) back half of season 18.

 

 

 

 

Notes and quotes:

“They see through the charade.”

“The mium is Latin for not really.”

-“Soon Canada will be as advanced and developed as Michigan.”

-Worth repeating, that drink responsibly ad was amazing.

-“We’d say we lost an arm and a leg, but they aren’t worth much.”

“I tweeted it. It’s trending.”

-OK, I laughed at Beezleaboot.

-Why did Satan need Stan’s body?

-Some continuity with Randy making money as Lorde, I guess?

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.