So how do you review an episode where a disabled little boy is repeatedly raped by a shark with a 9 inch penis? Carefully…
Crippled Summer, as the title suggests, is not one for the easily offended. The episode manages to teeter on the brink of decency by parodying a selection of sources, in an attempt to neutralise any offensive content with an equally ludicrous scenario. Much of the humour stems from these shock tactics and even I winced a few times in places. But due to a lack of depth, the jokes quickly wear thin.
The premise is that Towelie’s penchant for Marijuana, has tumbled into an addiction to crystal meth and crack. His story unfolds in a spoof of the show ‘Intervention’, consisting of shaky camera footage, generic mood music, and diary entry style voice-overs. Being British, I had never heard of this show and so some of the impact may have been lost on me. However, I am familiar with the style of documentary and so was aware of what they were trying to do. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t all that funny. ‘The Long Arm of the Law’, which saw Cartman in a parody of Cops, was far more effective and the repetition of black and white text, detailing a selection of silly facts, became rather tiresome by the end of the episode. It was a nice idea and a great way to bring Towelie back into the mix, but it didn’t seem to have the legs to fill a half hour slot.
As compensation, we also follow Jimmy, as he competes for Gold at a summer camp for handicapped children. The two scenarios are mildly intertwined, with Towelie performing a summer job there, but I think this may have been an excuse to show a disabled kid wrapped in a crack-whore towel (where else but South Park?). The sections at the camp are without a doubt the highlight of the episode. The voices are hilarious and each child seems to be a mock up of a different Looney Toon character and even though I felt terrible laughing (we are all going to hell) it’s pretty much impossible not to. Elmer Fudd, Droopy, and Porky Pig are probably the most easily recognisable, but most of the laughs come from the Rocky and Mugsy characters; Nathan (remember ‘Up the Down Steroid’) and Mimsy. In a classic Warner Brother’s cartoon set-up, they try to cheat their way to victory with disastrous consequences. Nathan’s habit of playing up his disability to avoid trouble is priceless, as he desperately tries to deflect attention by stammering in monotone.
“Hell…o my…name is..Na..than and I …am disabled”
We flick back and forth between Towelie and the summer camp, with a highlight being Cartman’s speech at the intervention. He decides it would be a great soapbox for another anti-Semitic rant, which Kyle once again bares the brunt of.
Personally I was a little disappointed with Crippled Summer. I think South Park’s greatest attribute is it’s ability to take a current event or political message and tear it to shreds. There is no hidden meaning or theme beneath the gags and it feels a lot like Matt and Trey just stuck together a couple of ideas that they had been harbouring. The episode is enjoyable and extremely funny in a couple of places, but there really isn’t enough material there for 30 minutes.
With this being the last episode we’ll be getting for a while, it would have been nice to go out with a bang. But I guess seeing a towel performing oral-sex at a summer camp for handicapped children is never dull either.
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