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With South Park just completing its impressive 14th season, it now seems like a good time to look back and show the top 5 episodes so far. I remember watching the first episode, Cartman Gets and Anal Probe when I was eight years old. Yeah, I know I was way too young for the show, but it was a cartoon and it was the first of its kind. Except for The Simpsons, no cartoon has left such an impact on television and has remained relevant this long. South Park is at times: shocking, classless, thought provoking, and senseless, but all the while entertaining and funny. Like always, this is a personal list but I tried to take the South Park community picks into account. Here are the Top 5 Episodes of South Park….so far.
Starvin Marvin in Space
The oldest episode on the list, was an important milestone for the show. Starvin Marvin was a throw away character from the first season and they brought him back for the first truly epic episode of the show, and to this date is one of the only episodes to have a different opening than the normal “come on down to South Park”. Aliens crash land in Ethiopia and are quickly killed by some tigers. Marvin finds the ship and eventually our characters, the government, the Christian Coalition, and Sally Struthers all get caught up in the race to find Marvin’s people a new home. The Marklar are a funny people and their usage of the word Marklar as all person, places, or things, makes the “I’ve learned something today” speech far more humorous than average. The episode ends on a high note and while we may never see Starvin Marvin, again we know that he has his own adventures with the Marklar.
Yeah... another space themed episode, but it really is one of the best. Trey and Mat advertised the episode as a re-mastering of the first episode, Cartman Gets an Anal Probe, but what we got was a whole new interpretation of the show. The episode starts like the first but then takes our characters to space where a walking Taco that poops ice cream (you’ll get it when you see it) tells them that Earth is a giant intergalactic reality show. Since the people of Earth found out about the show, it's being cancelled and Earth destroyed. The boys are stuck in the most ridiculous interpretation of a scifi universe and the show knows it. Trey and Matt even take a stab at themselves saying that shows shouldn’t go on this long because the jokes become stale and the locations get too ridiculous. In the end the boys save the day, but remember nothing of what happened, at least they have a rather disgusting picture to hold as blackmail. Also, I am a sucker for the Jeff Goldbloom character.
Make Love, Not Warcraft
It is very hard to argue against this episode. Not only was the humor presented in such a way that the show was simultaneously pointing at some of its audience, but was also just genuinely funny. This was another special episode in the series as they had actual help from WoW developer Blizzard, who helped with all the in game scenes. The fabled Sword of a Thousand Truths, the eventual centerpiece of the episode, made its way into the actual game. As a recovering WoW player a lot of what they said in the episode rings true. Add quite possibly the best montage in the history of the show and we are left with an amazing episode. If you didn’t laugh at their portrayal of a serious WoW player then you take it a bit too seriously. Just remember all WoW players must be real badasses.
Scott Tenorman Must Die
Heres the one episode that I am a fan of, but don't necessarily think it is as great as everyone says it is. Cartman has always been a dick and no one was disputing that, however after this episode it is hard to classify him as anything else other than evil. Cartman is tricked into buying the pubic hair of an older kid (Scott Tenorman) and this starts him down a path that the show hasn't approached since. Cartman is the most complex character on the show, well a good case could be made for Kenny now, and seeing the kid cause the death of his rivals parents is bad enough, but then he takes their bodies and has them ground up into chili that he then feeds to Scott... that is pretty freaking dark. It has come to define Cartman. Even Stan and Kyle reminded each other to never mess with Cartman again.
Trapped in the Closet
This may be a controversial choice for number one but let’s really think about it. Now I am not here to bad mouth Scientology, that’s what the rest of the internet is for, but I could not believe that it even existed. I had no idea what it was before this episode and I think a lot of the world was in the same boat. Stan is the reincarnation of the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and becomes the leader of their people. Trapped in the Closet has become the most controversial episode of the show and to this day it is rare to see it on TV. You know an episode is good when in America it gets its own –gate suffix. Tom Cruise was reportedly so angry that he threatened to pull out of Mission Impossible 3 marketing if Comedy Central didn’t pull the episode, which they did for a time. The internet and even news outlets were inundated with stories relating to closetgate and there are still ramification felt by the episode today. Not bad for a cartoon made of cardboard cut outs. Trey and Matt took on the litigious Church of Scientology and came out unscathed, while the churches image was critically damaged and they are still trying to recover. South Park 1 - Scientology 0. Without all the surrounding elements of the episode, it is great on its own. The jokes are delivered well and pacing is perfect. The Tom Cruise and John Travolta gay jokes, while not original, are presented well and the call back to R. Kelly reference sets it as a place in time. The best episode of South Park to date.
So what do you think? What are some of your favorite episodes?