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.

Podcast 67: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Nintendo Direct Wrap Up

Nintendo had a HUGE blow out of “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U” news last night with their Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 50-Fact Extravaganza. Will and Willie sit down to discuss the different modes appearing in the game, how the two titles will interact (or how they won’t), and of course, sadness over Ridley.

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Podcast 66: The Great Super Smash Bros. 3DS Podcast

“Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” is here and in our hands. And we’ve been playing it A LOT. After years of waiting, listen in as we talk about first handheld iteration of the Smash Bros. series.

And more importantly, we have demo codes to give away! How to get them? You’ll just have to listen to
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The Not So Silent Podcast Episode 7: Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 9 “Flatline”

After losing episode 6 to the ether (may it rest in peace), the Not So Silent Podcast returns to tackle the problem of two dimensions in three dimensions. Or is it three dimensions with two dimensions? Either way, you won’t want to miss this one, as we discuss episode 9, “Flatline.”

The podcast is now live on iTunes, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the awesomeness! Click right here and it will pop up right in iTunes.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

South Park Season 18 Episode 04 “Handicar” Review: Quite a car wreck

Well, that one was rough.

Lyft and and Uber have been in the news a lot, and given the ridiculousness both sides have turned to, and the attempts taxi cab companies have taken to try to shut them down, the whole thing should be rife with comedic possibilities.

The problem? Bringing back Nathan and Mimsy from “Crippled Summer.” The whole Rocky and Mugsy bit wasn’t that funny then, and it still isn’t that funny now. And the ice-on-top-of-the-water thin comparison between Nathan’s plans always backfiring and Lyft and Uber’s doing the same, well, it just wasn’t enough to fuel a whole episode.

Therese’s only one real plot this week, centering on Timmy. He has just started a brand new handicar service that allows the merry residents of SP to use an app and have Timmy pick them up wherever they need to go. Convenient? Yup. Timmy is using the money to fund-raise for summer camp, which Nathan doesn’t want to go to again, so he and Mimsy set out to shut down Handicar for good.

But, instead of centering on developing the taxi cab union, Tesla, or anyone else really, everything eventually boils down to Nathan and Mimsy coming up with a plan, trying to sell it with another snake and sheep herder metaphor, the plan backfiring, and Nathan getting raped in a bathroom (At least it wasn’t a shark?).

Of course, only Mimsy (and as Nathan put it, he’s mentally disabled) brings up the real point: Why don’t taxi cab drivers just make their service better in an attempt to compete with Timmy? Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to save the taxi cab companies after all?

It’s the only real clear message that comes through in a quite muddled episode. I’m not quite sure where the show was going with the whole special treatment because of a handicap thing. Was it calling out the ride share services for getting special treatment? The parody just seemed mismatched. SP brought it up several times, only for the show to then seemingly back away from it, leaving nowhere to land.

And then there’s “Wacky Racers.” The “Wacky Racers” segment took up quite a bit of time at the end of the episode, and as far a “South Park” homage goes, was pretty cut and dry. It never really elevated itself past a cutesy connection (and sure, it’s one that probably only “South Park” would make), but it’s something that probably seemed like a way better idea in the writer’s room at crunch time than one that nearly a half an episode should be based off of. There’s a certain crowd for a “Wacky Racers” throwback joke, but it was a bit of a reach and let’s be honest, it’s something most “South Park” viewers (myself included) are probably going to have to Google first to get any referential humor from. A smirk? Sure. Any kind of real humor or laughter? Not anything that couldn’t be gotten from regular Saturday morning cartoons.

Instead, the show takes its one good idea about the whole situation, shoves it early in the episode, and waddles around chasing a car parody for the rest of it. Throw in outdated pop culture references and a major lack of jokes, and what we got was one of the weakest episodes in some time. SP is running lesser episodes than usual now, so in theory it really shouldn’t have missteps this bad.

I mean, if even Matthew McConaughey couldn’t save an episode, it couldn’t have been that great to begin with. Timmy!

Notes and quotes:
-Timmy/Jimmy episodes are rarely my favorite, this being no exception to that.

-Got a few chuckles out of the Hummer salesman coming back, but does it really fit in with the rest of the stakeholders here?

-“And I thought a shark was bad.”

– OK, the president of Tesla hitting Mimsy was worth a chuckle, at least.

-“Driven by an angry Russian.”

-One one Lorde mention….is this season’s continuity over?

-I’m counting this as somewhat of a throwback to the Timmy Express in “The Stick of Truth,” even if that may be stretching it a bit.

South Park Season 18 Episode 03 “The Cissy” Review: Don’t be a cissy

“South Park” is probably my favorite show on television. And it’s been way too long since I’ve reviewed it.

I say that for two reasons. One, because when someone is starting a new review series on a new site, I think it’s important to set up a bit of context. (You can find my past South Park reviews here). Two, because I think it is important to stress the pedestal that I place SP on. It can be the best show on television…and then it can fall flat and not land as well as it could have.

But, enough house cleaning and dust settling. Let’s get cracking.

I knew this was going to be, at the very least, an interesting episode. Transgender equality is a very hot button topic, but it’s also something SP has tackled over the years albeit if not head on: Mr. Garrison has gone from being a man to being a gay man, then a woman trapped inside a man’s body, then a physically reconfigured woman interested in men, then a lesbian, and then back to a man again over the years. So in some ways, it’s an issue the show has had in its mind for years.

The more interesting thing this season is not as much what the show says, but how it is saying it. Ever since “You’re Getting Old,” where Matt and Trey actually flirted with mixing things up, there’s been a certain air of disappointment that the show hasn’t decided to break from tradition a bit and mix things up. It appears that SP is trying to stick to some level of continuity and actually (Gasp, dare I say it?) turn into a serial this season. Butters returns from his suspension from last week in the opening bathroom scene, where Cartman places a bow on his head and identifies as “transginger” in order to use the girls bathroom, setting the larger scene up for the week.

The A plot here focused – again, with continuity – on Randy’s dressing up as Lorde. The gag got some fire from Spin, which I found mostly unwarranted – I didn’t think the show was actually trying to say Randy was Lorde, and I can’t help but wonder if that was the plan last week before the article ran.

Actually bringing Spin into the joke was a great moment – and something SP can pull off with its timetable. I can’t remember the last time SP pulled off such direct commentary on the show’s commentary (The Family Guy trilogy, maybe?), but it’s the kind of smart – and timely – fire that only SP can play with.

The problem then lies on if SP can bring the same enjoyment and laughs from a joke stretched out over a few weeks instead of just one. More and more recently of late the show isn’t quite sure when to let a joke within one 20-some-odd minute plot (or even stretching jokes thin like in the Black Friday trilogy last year) go, so seeing so much time spent to Randy’s Lorde gag with only one real laughable joke (Randy showing Stan how the musical magical transformation process worked) is somewhat disappointing.

But, not making jokes was kind of part of the joke here. There was some heart when Randy was rejected by the other woman at work. Sharon’s speech at the end was a bit telling, and seems to be some quite honest and heartfelt commentary from a show that normally butters its bread on scathing satire. It’s not wrapped in a joke (but still a pop culture reference, through Lorde), but Sharon telling Randy that people who make fun of Lorde (and by extension, make fun of those who identify as transgendered) have “lost touch with being human” and that self expression is the ultimate truth here. This may come off as a whisper from a show known to shout, but that should speak even more volume to what is really being said here. This shouldn’t be an issue. There’s no joke here. Use whatever bathroom you want. A guy dressing up as a girl isn’t news, Spin. Move along.

The way the plots converge though also show something else new: a little foresight. Either there was a plan to have this episode follow last week’s in place and have Randy’s plot converge, or everything lined up really really luckily (I’m guessing its the former). Along with continuity it’s unusual for SP to do this, but it’s exciting that even in its 18th season it still have punches and surprises to pull. (Is being a serial really a surprise or change? For most shows maybe not, but I’d argue for SP it is).

I’m expecting mixed reactions this week (from people thinking SP didn’t go far enough on either side of the issue), and sure, the show is shaking off the new season dust and is still a little muddier in focus than usual. But the joke here seems almost that SP actually showed restraint and didn’t pull a joke: It subverted Spin’s expectations that they were poking fun at Lorde and instead used her to flick off people who are actually bothered at the thought of sharing a bathroom. “The Cissy” might not be quite as crude or funny as SP can be, but it’s trying on a tone it normally doesn’t wear, and just like Randy’s fishnet stockings, the show may take some time to get used to them.

Notes and quotes:

-Normally in any given week for SP once the credits roll, the set up and joke pay off balance has been taken care off. I’m just not so sure if that’s the case here yet. It’s not often I get to say this for South Park: Let’s wait to see where this all is going.

-“It’s more like a royal flush.”

-“He’s not a woman, he’s not a man, he’s something you’ll never understand. But he’d die for me.”

-Frozen poster in the background of Shelly’s room

-so with those whole continuity thing…weren’t Stan and Wendy broken up last week? Is Stan really going through a gender identity crisis? The b plot was pretty undeveloped this week.

-Who was the assistant Cartman had helping him design his bathroom?

-OK, Randy’s gluten free call back got a chuckle out of me.

-Still not sure why everybody was ganging up on Stan, or why Butters still was at the end.

-Similarly to last week, the end here just felt rushed.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Or the review? Be sure to let me know in the comments right here. Go ahead. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Revised 10/9 at 6:37 to fix clarity in the fifth paragraph.

The Not So Silent Podcast Episode 5: Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 5+6 Double Stuffed Edition

Back from vacation and better than ever! This week we are proud to present a double stuffed episode, covering both “Time Heist” and “The Caretaker,” all in this episode of the Not So Silent Podcast. Enjoy!

The podcast is now live on iTunes, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the awesomeness! Click right here and it will pop up right in iTunes.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.