South Park is one of the finest comedic series ever made. Period. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s crudely animated creation has acquired its share of controversy over the years, but the fact remains that if it was simply low-brow toilet humor, it wouldn’t have lasted 20 years, and the duo’s impressive body of work wouldn’t be so critically praised.
That said, no body of work is perfect, and South Park has had its share of misfires over the years. Sometimes its attempts at edginess just come off as mean-spirited, while other times their insane production schedule simply churns out a sloppy product.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at what I personally consider to be the worst episodes of South Park. A disclaimer before we get going: no episodes from the first 4 seasons are being considered here since many of those episodes have a very different feel and were before they really found their voice. Additionally, mere forgettable episodes are not being considered either. For something to be considered the worst, it has to create a strong emotional reaction in the first place. This does mean that some fondly remembered episodes may be placed here due to elements I find personally objectionable. Though it will be impossible to separate my personal politics entirely, the goal is nonetheless to show how and why some of their offensive gags and stories don’t always work.
Without any further delay, let’s dive in…
The sad thing is, this episode could honestly be considered one of the best of the series. The follow-up to their 200th episode, it contains so many callbacks and references to the shows’ history that it can’t help but make any South Park fan happy. They don’t stop there though, as they take these elements and manage to craft a grand, hilarious story with drama, high stakes, and themes that build upon some of the show’s biggest ideas.
With that much going for it, why on Earth does it belong on a worst list? One reason: this is the first time (and only time, as of writing this) that an episode of South Park got heavily censored before going to air.
Really think about that. South Park, as crass it can be, always aims to be able to say whatever they want. It may not always work, and they can cross the line (as this list demonstrates), but their willingness to fearlessly tackle taboo subjects makes them a vital part of the cultural discussion.
But here, as they reexamined the taboo of depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, death threats made towards the pair forced Comedy Central to bleep out every mention of Muhammad’s name. Not only that, but they also bleeped out the entire ending monologue, which left the show feeling gutted and robbed of its commentary.
One could argue that being robbed of its commentary was itself the commentary, but given how the first part went by untouched, it can’t help but feel like they were muzzled against their will. And while people are more than free to express their disgust for what Matt and Trey advocate at times, they should still be free to say it in the first place.
All of that baggage sadly drags down an otherwise great episode, and cementing its position on this list.
Season 18 brought about a new element for South Park that had never been fully explored before: continuity. While most episodes effectively hit the reset button after each episode (most notably obvious with Kenny’s frequent deaths in the earlier seasons), this season took a different angle by actually carrying over specific elements.
The first episode began with the boys ditching school, and the second one has them return with everyone still remembering that fact. That episode ends with a one-off joke of Randy being dressed like Lorde that developed into its own seasonal arc for the character. It was a mostly successful experiment, breathing new life into the show and leading to them continuing this trend for future seasons.
That said, all ongoing stories need a conclusion, and as this season was nearing its end, it only seemed fitting to tie up all of the loose ends they’d built up. The problem was, if their “6 days to air” schedule hadn’t already tipped you off, they’re clearly just making this up as they go, not caring how it ties into the overall narrative. Though they got better with this in the following year, “#HappyHolograms” just comes off as a random hodgepodge of references, with forced conflicts, and unfocused themes. South Park works when the creators have something to say, but all they have to offer here is that the new generations’ fascination with Let’s Plays is weird. That’s it. The commentary on social media is lacking, and the celebrity lampooning on hand here is shallow in comparison to their other takedowns in the past.
It’s just a mess of an episode with a lot of wasted potential.
#8. It’s a Jersey Thing
Like “201”, this is an otherwise great episode that’s brought down by one bad element. Unfortunately, this time it’s Matt and Trey who must take the blame on this one. The plot of the episodes involves people from Jersey being so numerous and influential that they are spreading across America like a horde of zombies. That’s a pretty funny take on how huge and inescapable The Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey were at the time. The problem comes with how the denizens plan to save themselves, by seeking Al Qaeda’s help.
That’s a pretty shocking joke to make in the first place, but disregarding the offensiveness, the joke simply doesn’t work. It’s too simple an idea; that The Jersey Shore is so bad that even terrorists look better in comparison, so they end up having nothing to say about it. Meanwhile, while The Jersey folk in the show are portrayed as annoying and hostile, not coming close to feeling comparable to Osama Bin Ladin, so the comparison is too distant. The way they escalate the joke by having Al Qaeda operatives actually crash planes directly on the people from Jersey also feels way too mean-spirited for no real benefit. Finally, the way they try to excuse this edginess by having Bin Laden killed off at the very end just feels like a cop-out to save face. It’s one thing to be tasteless, but to not have the courage of one’s convictions feels cowardly, and just gives the whole episode a sour taste.
That said, it’s still relatively low on this list because there’s a lot of really great jokes too. Having all the people from Jersey cut away from the moment to talk to the camera is hilarious, as is their depiction of a “Snookie”. Kyle also has some great moments, as his transition into a person from Jersey mimics classic werewolf transformations.
Had they cut out the mess with Al Qaeda, this could have been an instant classic. As is, it’s sadly one of times where them crossing the line backfired tremendously
The first half of season 15 sadly has one of the weaker batch of episodes Matt and Trey have worked on. With the exception of the stellar “You’re Getting Old”, none of the episodes from that run left much of an impact. While they were mostly forgettable, the weakest of that bunch is probably the “HumanCentiPad”.
South Park borrows references from pop culture all the time, but they work best when they weave seamlessly with the story. Here, the connection between Apple and the Human Centipede is so mismatched that it really felt like they just took two idea balls from a manatee tank and smashed them together.
It’s sad because they could have made a clever commentary on how people are so infatuated with Apple that they’ll buy anything from them, or that people will be so quick to shrug off how the products they consume can indirectly hurt others. Any messages like that though are rushed out at the end as the majority of the episode seems intended to focus on the gross-out nature of The Human Centipede itself. That’d be all well and fine, but they don’t really add anything new to it; it just feels like a lazy reference.
And while there are some good gags, such as Cartman treating his not getting an iPad as being molested, or how messed up those endless “user agreement” statements can be, they get tired fast and can’t propel the episode to anything great. It just made South Park feel tired and dated which, oddly enough, made “You’re Getting Old” all the more potent.
6. Toilet Paper
As much as South Park likes to be topical in addressing current issues, sometimes it remembers that its protagonists are just a bunch of fourth graders, and they decide to just let the boys be boys and see where that goes. This has led to some great episodes like “The List”, “Awesome-O”, “Pre-School”, to name a few, but this dud from the 7th season is not one of them.
What does it in is, again, how simple the gag is. The boys TP one of their teacher’s houses, and that simple act of childish mischief is treated as serious as a murder. That may be enough to sustain a 3-minute sketch, but for a whole episode, there’s just not enough meat on the bones. It seems like Matt and Trey knew this, as they incorporate a Hannibal Lecter-type character to fill out the rest of the story beats, and while those parts aren’t bad, they can’t help but feel tired given how often Silence of The Lambs had been referenced in other media at that point.
The funny thing is, from this very run they had a similar “boys will be boys” episode that worked way better called “Lil’ Crime Stoppers”. What’s great about that one is that it preserves the boys’ innocence in playing detective as the world around them gets increasingly crazier. Or better yet, there’s an episode of Spongebob Squarepants,where the characters go through a similar cycle of guilt and broken friendships. The twist is that it was over something as innocuous as stealing a balloon on national free balloon day. By having both the boys and the authorities take the Toilet Paper attack so seriously, it results with just having nothing but absurdity bouncing around with nothing grounded in reality to keep it in check.
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
WWE Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
WWE’s annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view is famous for its over-the-top main event, but there have also been many legendary single and tag team matches over the years that wound up overshadowing the titular 30-man brawl. One such match came during the Ruthless Aggression Era when two of the greatest wrestlers in the history of professional wrestling, squared off in what would be a technical showcase between two mat technicians. Of course, I’m referring to the 2003 Royal Rumble WWE Championship match between Kurt Angle and the Rabid Wolverine, Chris Benoit.
The match between Benoit and Angle isn’t just one of the greatest matches in WWE history— it is hands-down, the best match of 2003— a non-stop classic that doesn’t get the full recognition it deserves.
This match took place on January 19, at the Fleet Center in Boston. It was the sixteenth annual Royal Rumble and it unfolded during the pinnacle of the first WWE brand split. Monday Night Raw placed a heavy emphasis on soap opera drama while Smackdown focused more on technical wrestling. And if this wasn’t evident at the time, it became crystal clear during the 2003 Royal Rumble pay per view. In short, there was a huge difference in quality between the Angle/Benoit match which headlined the Smackdown brand and the primary match for Raw which saw Triple H and Scott Steiner fight for the World Heavyweight Championship. It was no contest. The Smackdown brand came out on top thanks to the sheer talent of Benoit and Angle; two world-class competitors in their prime and arguably at the time, two of the best wrestlers on the planet.
For roughly twenty minutes the Canadian Wolverine and the U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist went to war in a non-stop physical encounter which simmered with an amazing series of transitions from the Ankle lock to the Crippler Crossface. Needless to say, both men pulled off every single one of their special movies, multiple times throughout the match. Benoit attempted a diving headbutt on Angle, only Angle avoided the move and attempted an Angle Slam on Benoit which Benoit countered. Later when Benoit applied the sharpshooter on Angle, Angle in dramatic fashion, slowly made his way to the edge of the ring and touched the ropes to break the submission. Their chemistry was off the charts and the action in the ring kept the audience at the edge of their seats, as did the incredibly convincing near-falls which were executed to perfection. At one point, both men laid on the mat unable to get to their feet which almost resulted in a double count-out. It as a back and forth battle that had spectators believing anyone could win at any given moment.
WWE had built Benoit up as a babyface, and despite being the underdog— with the crowd behind the Canadian wolverine, many believed he would finally hold the belt over his shoulders. By the time Benoit executed a diving headbutt, nobody in the arena was left sitting on their chairs. In the end, however, Benoit applied yet another Crippler Crossface on Angle, only to have Angle counter it into a modified ankle lock, forcing Benoit to submit to the hold. It was a clean finish that featured a rare submission from the famously resilient Benoit.
The match exceeded any expectations and in the end, both men received a standing ovation. And while Benoit didn’t win, he walked away as the man who stole the show. Thankfully, it wasn’t the end for him but only the beginning. Over the course of the next year, he would rise in the ranks of the WWE roster and in 2004, he would win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XX against Shawn Michaels and Triple H in a triple threat match.
As Kurt Angle said when asked about his career-defining match: If you want to learn and understand the art of pro wrestling, you need to watch the 2003 Royal Rumble World Championship match.
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Up next….. Royal Rumble in January 2019. 16 years ago I had the privilege of defending my WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. This is how the match was explained verbally to those who haven’t watched it. “Professional wrestling in its purest form is as beautiful as ballet, as elegant as a ballroom dance and as captivating as a theater. By purest form I mean technical wrestling, which in today’s world is almost non-existent. The fiery chain wrestling, involving great chemistry, in-ring psychology and dream like story telling is something that happens when all the stars align.” This match was one of my best performances of my career. If you haven’t seen it, give it a look. #itstrue #wwe #championship #royalrumble
Angle vs. Benoit can be viewed as the single greatest non-Rumble match in the history of the pay per view. Watching it again after all these years proved to be just as thrilling— even if I already knew the outcome.
- Ricky D
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Concludes By Going Big… and Going Home
Crisis ends, and DC’s television universe looks towards a bright future.
After three hours of thrilling cameos, bold narrative design, and clumsy dramatic crescendos, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” returned to air its final two episodes, concluding what’s been arguably the most ambitious experiment on a broadcast network post-LOST. Its final two parts – aired as the ante penultimate episode of Arrow, with Part V serving as the Legends of Tomorrow season premiere – are much like the three that aired in December; equally ridiculous and resonant, able to transcend an undercooked central premise with a combination of heart and humor unlike anything else in the superhero genre.
Equally ridiculous and resonant, Crisis on Infinite Earths transcends an undercooked central premise with a combination of heart and humor unlike anything else in the superhero genre.
“Part V” particularly benefits from being able to serve two critical roles: it serves as both a testament to the core characters of the DC-CW universe and their continued legacy on the network, as well as a poignant reflection on the impending departure of Green Arrow. And despite the obvious similarities, it would be a little simplistic to call Crisis on Infinite Earths the Endgame of the DC Universe: through characters like Sara Lance, Black Lightning, and The Flash, Crisis – and Part V in particular – is a reminder that even 500+ episodes into its universe, there’s still a bright future ahead for its super powered paragons.
That being said, let’s be honest: “Part IV” is a hot goddamn mess, rush through a web of silly plot twists and unnecessarily drawn-out scenes, that builds to one of the most laughably incoherent action climaxes of recent memory. Watching the heroes fight anti-matter ghosts was bad in “Part I” – by the time we get to the end of “Part IV,” and Ollie the Spectre is trading energy beams with the Anti-Monitor while everyone else stands around punching the air, the conceit of the whole endeavor almost falls flat on its face.
The only reason it doesn’t is because of what comes before it; though it is understandable to criticize “Part IV” for the strange collection of brief flashbacks into Oliver’s past (experienced by our paragons as they exist within the Speed Force), there’s a certain balance between chaos and clarity that’s found in the random assortment of moments The Flash, Supergirl, and company experience. The Speed Force is an unruly, uncontrollable force, and “Part IV” establishes the difficulty of their ability to even exist in such a state: given that, it makes sense that much of what we experience in the Speed Force is unsatisfying, or feels like it is missing out on key moments.
There’s no doubting how clumsy everything around it is: from the Monitor’s origin story, to the inexplicable beard Ray Choi grows, much of “Part IV” feels like filler material, hamster wheeling its way to its final two minutes, where the paragons…. look up a CGI hill, and think really hard about what they’re the paragon of? While the notions behind the final moments of “Part IV” are certainly noble – the idea that the super friends’ greatest powers are not their physical attributes – the execution is sloppy at best, and teeters towards being utterly ludicrous in its most critical moments.
But when the Anti-Monitor’s siege is (temporarily) defeated, Crisis on Infinite Earths drops the entertaining, if superficial conceit of unpredictable cameos and absolutely insane world building and turns towards deifying Green Arrow. And though it falls utterly flat in landing its emotional beats in “Part IV” (admittedly, it’s hard to take anything seriously after the Climactic Collection of Stares), once Crisis leaves Arrow to move to Legends of Tomorrow, all the pieces begin coming together, to deliver a rather touching homage to the long shadow cast by Stephen Amell’s impending departure.
By centering on The Flash and Sara, two characters who spend most of the episode refusing to believe Oliver doesn’t exist in this new universe (where every character in the DCTV universe has been integrated into one world), “Part V” is able to grasp an emotional thoroughline “Part IV” is way too busy to find. Especially with Sara Lance; as she reflects on her journey from philandering sister, to dead assassin, to captain of a MF’in time ship, Crisis finds resonance in Oliver’s departure, and how that has a rippling effect on every hero left behind.
Even more interesting is how the subtext of Sara’s reflections give voice to the anxiety of uncharted seas lying ahead for the minds behind the DC television universe: without their original protagonist, their dramatic bedrock of nearly a decade, there is a changing of the guard happening on both sides of the camera. Positing Sara as the de facto protagonist moving forward is a logical move: her journey to becoming a true leader on Legends of Tomorrow might be the single most satisfying arc of this entire dramatic experiment, something “Part V” openly acknowledges as it begins to fill in the landscape of its new shared universe.
By the time “Part V” ends (which, let’s be honest, it takes a long time to get to), there’s a Hall of Justice, a Super Friends table, a brand new conflict for Supergirl to face, and plenty of intriguing new threads for its new and returning series to explore in the coming months and years. The impact of Crisis will ripple through the DC televerse for years to come, and that’s an exciting creative kick start for some of its long running series: though sometimes Crisis certainly feels more interesting to dissect than it is to actually experience, the impact of its conclusion offers infinite potential to rejuvenate series like The Flash, and a fresh slate for shows like Black Lightning, the new Lois and Clark series, and the upcoming Stargirl to begin building a new, more refined foundation on.
Though the minute-to-minute quality of Crisis on Infinite Earths is wildly uneven – and ultimately, it comes up dramatically short in its climactic moments – it is undeniably one of the most exciting television events in recent memory, a crossover that should be lauded for its sheer ambition, and heartfelt delivery. Though the Arrowverse will be losing its bedrock when Arrow departs the air at the end of January, “Part V” proves the new, post-Crisis universe is clearly in good hands heading into the new decade.
It is not surprising the two MVP’s of the entire crossover are both Legends of Tomorrow regulars: Brandon Routh pulling dual roles before his own swan song from the universe (“Wait… there was a Super-me?”) and Caity Lotz absolutely fucking chewing scenery in the final half of “Part V”.
Best moment of the crossover? I mean, it’s gotta be the scene with Ezra Miller and Grant Gustin, right? Extremely impressed how they kept that cameo under wraps. The Doom Patrol dance is probably a close second, though.
Swamp Thing cameo!
The sidelining of Constantine in the final two parts is a bummer, though I guess having a dude who can access the world of the dead might make the whole eulogizing Green Arrow thing weird.
Gotta say it: it sucks there was no Felicity in “Part IV” or “Part V”.
Mick Rory the author continues to be the greatest subplot of the DC universe.
Unfortunately, Batwoman sticks out as the weakest part of the new Super Friends lineup. I want to like Ruby Rose in the role, but it’s just not working for me, at least so far.
It is no surprise the best episode of the five-part series is the Legends of Tomorrow season premiere.
Royal Rumble: The Most Over The Top Moments
The Best of the WWE Royal Rumble
While WrestleMania might be considered WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, the Royal Rumble is arguably the most popular. It is the official start of WrestleMania season as the main events come into view. More than that, the actual Royal Rumble match is one of the most exciting WWE has.
The essential premise is that two wrestlers start in the ring. Then, another wrestler enters every 90 seconds, with a total of 30 wrestlers involved. There are no count-outs, pinfalls, or submissions. The only way to be eliminated is by going over the top rope and both feet hitting the floor.
What makes it blast to watch is the unpredictability of the match. The complete roster of wrestlers involved is rarely known, so most numbers have the potential for a surprise entrant. Even if fans think they know who is going to win, how it plays out is rarely as predictable.
Some of the most unique moments in WWE history have happened in a Royal Rumble match. Hopefully, this year won’t be an exception.
Kofi Kingston: Royal Rumble MVP
Superstars like John Morrison and Shawn Michaels have pulled off off some impressively acrobatic moves in a Royal Rumble match. But Kofi Kingston has carved out a name for himself as one-man highlight reel.
Consistently, Kofi has produced some of the biggest saves from elimination moments. From walking around outside the ring on his hands to chair hopping from the commentator’s desk back to the ring, Kofi has found the most creative ways possible to keep going.
His leap from the barricade to the ring apron at Royal Rumble 2014 remains one the most athletic moments in WWE history.
Asuka Wins The Royal Rumble
In 2018, WWE changed the game by having the first Women’s Royal Rumble match. 30 female wrestlers both past and present entered, leading to some historic moments. One of the coolest was seeing Trish Stratus and Mickie James, two in-ring rivals, face off in match they helped build to.
The eventual winner was Asuka, which was both the expected and the hoped-for outcome. Asuka was in the midst of her juggernaut run that started in NXT. It was a huge win for her.
It meant Asuka was going to WrestleMania to face Charlotte Flair or Alexa Bliss.
Unfortunately, it was followed by another huge moment that overshadowed hers when Ronda Rousey made her debut. Through no fault of Rousey’s, WWE’s choice to have her appear at that second somewhat stepped on the importance of Asuka’s win.
Stone Cold Rules The Royal Rumble
More than a few wrestlers have become two-time Royal Rumble winners. This includes the likes of Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan, and John Cena. But only one man has won the match three times.
Stone Cold Steve Austin.
He won the Rumble back to back in 1997 and 1998, then again in 2001. Of all the great moments in the history of the Royal Rumble, Austin’s record-setting third win is a big one. Even if that record ever is tied or broken, probably by Randy Orton, Austin will always be the first to achieve it.
Shawn Michaels And The One Foot Save
Being eliminated from a Royal Rumble match requires two components. The first is going over the top rope and the second is both feet touching the floor outside the ring. Keep in mind, the key word in the second component is “both.”
In 1995, Shawn Michaels changed the game with a one foot save. It was the first time any wrestler had tested the limitations of the “both feet touching the floor” rule quite so literally.
It was a successful test, too. Shawn Michaels also became the first wrestler to enter at number one and win the entire match. Before him, the earliest entry to win was Ric Flair at number three. |In reality, Michaels wasn’t the only number one entry to win. Chris Benoit also pulled it off in 2004, though WWE is unlikely to mention that one.
AJ Styles Debuts At The Royal Rumble
There was a time that one of the top wrestlers in the world to have never worked in the WWE full time was AJ Styles. Well, until Royal Rumble 2016. That’s when unfamiliar music hit and Styles entered the arena. The pop from the audience was one of the biggest ever.
The confused look on Roman Reigns’ face sold the moment. That being said, the camera stayed on his face longer than it did the entrance.
As great as the debut was, it would have been better if AJ had won the Rumble. Instead, Triple H won. Not the most surprising person to go over in a Royal Rumble match but Styles main roster debut was still one of the hottest moments of the year.
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