With the twentieth season of Comedy Central's iconic animated show for adults approaching, I got an idea: Wouldn't it be fun to go back and watch the previous nineteen seasons and critique each episode? After all, I've been watching South Park since the very beginning and I still have plenty of memories of the series' best episodes, and even some not-so-great ones, but I bet there are a lot of hidden gems I've forgotten about. Comedy Central seems content with running the same ten or fifteen episodes over and over in syndication, but there are plenty of classic episodes that haven't been aired in years.
This is no easy task. There are episodes I'm already dreading having to rewatch, and my plan is to write up short blurbs about each and every one. It's not something I'll be able to do quickly, but I'll compile my thoughts on each episode as I watch then put them together in a proper post once I finish each season.
There are plenty of episodes I look forward to seeing again. More than any other comedy show, I think South Park has remained consistently funny long after most other shows, including The Simpsons. The latter may be an institution, but most episodes after Season 10 are forgettable at best and unwatchable at worst. At its best, I still think The Simpsons is the funniest animated show - and one of the funniest comedies overall - to ever grace television, but South Park continues to make me laugh even after nineteen seasons.
Perhaps it's due to the nature of the show's production. The lead-in time for a traditional animated show like The Simpsons is several months. It's hard to do topical humor when your jokes will be old news by the time the show's animators finish their work. South Park, on the other hand, is created entirely digitally and can go from a simple idea to a completed episode in only a few days. This keeps South Park fresh and relevant without sacrificing the surreal and irreverent nature of animated comedy.
Like The Simpsons before it ("Simpsons did it!"), many of the show's best characters aren't even the four main boys at this point. Tertiary characters like school counselor Mr. Mackey, Stan's father Randy, and the lovable and naive Butters have become fan favorites and carried episodes with little to no input from the original four kids, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. It's a testament to the show's writing that so many secondary characters have gained such popularity, in the same way that characters like Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Bob, and Ralph Wiggum hold special places in the hearts of Simpsons fanatics.
Sure, sometimes it's a little too preachy, but it's almost always funny. So let's head on down to South Park and see if we can't unwind together.