At risk of being controversial, it must be said: Mr/Mrs Garrison is not a great character. He/she only works in small doses, and often as an antagonist. Any story centering on him/her being the hero rarely works because he/she is just too toxic to root for. Even Cartman, as monstrous as he can be, still has a touch of childhood innocence that can somewhat forgive his actions.
In any case, at this point in the show she was Mrs. Garrison, and this episode explored yet another aspect of her sexuality. Any possible compelling dive into her sexual identity though is wasted, as her change basically stems from her decision that all men suck, so she might as well become a lesbian. That’s it.
To prop up the story, even though it starts with the boys outsourcing a school assignment to cheap Mexican labour, it suddenly becomes a parody of 300. It has a similar problem as “Human CentiPad,” feeling less like a purposeful parody/interpretation and more like a reference to something popular at the time. It’s not like they take especially clever turns with it, like in the classic “Return of the Fellowship of the Rings to the Two Towers.” They’re just fighting over a night club from would-be Persian buyers. One doesn’t even have to have seen 300 to see why this doesn’t work. In the movie, Leonidas had been defending Sparta his whole life, so he has true motivation to protect it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Garrison only found out about the night club a couple days ago. It’s also not hard to see that the crux of the story of 300 involves these brave warriors facing insurmountable odds, and while they all end up dying in battle, their sacrifice saves their way of life. There’s no such sacrifice in “D-Yikes” though, as the episode merely borrows iconic imagery from it, and ends with a cheap joke at Xerxes’ true gender.
South Park has ripped into other shows like Family Guy for relying on cheap referential humor, but this episode indicates that even they are not immune to it.
4. A Million Little Fibers
At the onset it was stated that for an episode to be considered among the worst, it had to create a strong emotional reaction. This episode is an exception though, and to be honest, its placement on this list is more out of pressure from the many South Park fans who see this as one of the worst. That said, it’s hard to argue against those claims.
While Towelie can be a fun side character, he was intentionally created to be the lamest character ever, and as such, can’t carry an episode on his own. Beyond that, there’s also the plot of (I can’t believe I’m writing this) Oprah Winfrey’s vagina and asshole plotting to get her fired from work and eventually hold up reporters at gunpoint.
Look, this episode is just too weird, okay?
Though “Toilet Paper” suffers a bit from having little grounded in reality, this episode is all the way out to Mars in how absurd it is. As Matt and Trey both admitted, they basically put weirdness on top of weirdness, and it makes the barrier to entry too impenetrable. Any interesting points to make regarding the “Million Little Pieces” controversy get buried in the oddness, and we’re left with an episode that just makes one scratch one’s head and wonder: “what were they thinking?”
3. Ginger Kids
South Park often gets labelled as hateful given some of the taboos they address, and while there’s some valid criticisms of their work to be had, it’s a disingenuous to lump them along with that unpleasant crowd. They just seem like two people doing whatever makes each other laugh, and likely don’t have any serious prejudices to be concerned about
That being said, this is an ugly, vile episode that has no reason to exist. While there are historical cases regarding discrimination towards people with red hair, it’s mostly obscure and not nearly as founded as other prejudices involving sexuality, race, or gender. If anything, one could argue that with this show’s wide reach, they actually brought to light that these negative preconceptions even existed in the first place.
The thing is, this could have still worked. It could have been used as a statement to harp on how arbitrary and absurd racial discrimination is, and at first it seems like they’re heading in that direction. After Cartman delivers a hate speech on Ginger kids for a class presentation, Kyle takes it upon himself to stand against his rhetoric and prove him wrong. Unfortunately for him he discovers parents who are ashamed and terrified of their ginger kids, while the kids are eventually swayed by Cartman (who’s been led to believe he “turned Ginger”) to be hateful themselves. This isn’t treated as a sad commentary on the state of our world, but just a natural, logical consequence. Ultimately, what dooms this episode is that the satire has no point to it at all.
And if all that wasn’t bad enough, this episode inspired “kick a ginger day” at certain high schools, leading to actual discrimination in the real world. As far as lasting legacies the show will have, that is a shameful reputation to leave behind.
2. Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina
Another Mr. Garrison episode, albeit the one where he has his sex change and officially becomes Mrs. Garrison. Parker and Stone flat-out admitted they came into this episode with zero ideas, to the point where they nearly ended up using 5 minutes worth of footage from real sex changes to eat up time.
In any case, this episode is a sad relic from a time when transgender people got next to no recognition at best, and hate and scorn directed towards them at worst. And while equality is far from achieved at this stage, there have been prominent steps towards attaining that goal. Even season 18’s “The Cissy” shows Matt and Trey have matured on the issue and recognize the importance of accepting members of the community for who they are. Sadly, the nuance of that episode plot is nowhere to be found here.
Garrison’s transformation into Mrs. Garrison inspires both Kyle and his dad to have their own cosmetic surgeries. Specifically, Kyle wants to be made black and taller because it will apparently allow him to play basketball, while his dad sporadically decides he always wanted to be a dolphin. As offensive as that joke is in implying those various surgeries are comparable, the biggest problem, again, is the gag makes no sense.
For all of his problems, having Mr. Garrison decide to have the surgery is not an out-of-left field choice. He’d been grappling with his sexual and personal identity for the bulk of the series, and has acted impulsively before. Kyle, meanwhile, has never displayed a hint of interest in basketball, and has seldom been shown acting like he was ashamed of who he was. If anything, he’s often touted as the voice of reason on the show, so taking him in this direction either feels out of character, or that the creators really thought the issues were similar. At least Gerald’s sporadic desire to be a dolphin is so ridiculous that it can almost be forgiven, but it still makes light of an important issue in a sloppy and tasteless way.
Point being, even if you take away all the baggage of how it depicts transitioning, and the harm it can cause to the trans community, the situations being compared are too different, so the connection isn’t funny. It’s one thing to be edgy for the sake of comedy, but when you fail at the comedy aspect, all that’s left is an embarrassing show.
Speaking of attempts at satire that make no sense, it’s time to unbox ManBearPig. South Park has done many takedowns of celebrities over the years, and while they’ve hit the bullseye more than a few times (“The Passion of the Jew”, “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset”, and “Fishsticks” to name a few), their lampooning of Al Gore misses the mark spectacularly.
In this episode, he comes to South Park (wearing a cape to save the day) to warn the children about the dangers of ManBearPig, an obvious stand-in for the real Al Gore’s crusade to raise awareness for climate change. The kids initially take pity on him (he seems to have no friends), and follow along with his delusions, but they soon turn against Gore as they realize exactly how delusional he is, and how far he’ll go to convince people that “ManBearPig” is real.
While in the past they’ve attacked celebrities for being bigoted, untalented or narcissistic, their main issue with Gore seems to be that he’s a loser who’s hungry for attention. That’s a joke’s that has not aged well, as Gore is seldom in the spotlight nowadays and never framed the fight against climate change as his claim to fame. He’s also owned the idea of being a bit of a boring loser (see his self-portrayal on Futurama for proof), so mocking him for that seems pointless. Hell, they do a better takedown of him in the DVD commentary of this episode when they state that An Inconvenient Truth wasn’t a movie; it was a PowerPoint presentation. That’s a topic they could easily do a whole episode on, but it’s never addressed. Fact is, if they took their Al Gore caricature and renamed him, there’d be nothing of recognition left.
Even if you make that disassociation, the character doesn’t generate many laughs, nor does his illusory boogeyman, “ManBearPig.” They both fare far better in the “Imaginationland” Trilogy as well as The Stick of Truth, as those stories were absurd enough to make that distance work. Both of those were written far better too, and didn’t feel nearly as aimless and pointless as this does.
The key thing though that makes this the worst episode is the idea it communicates about climate change. To be clear, my personal issue isn’t that I disagree with their message. “Douche and Turd” advocated that John Kerry and George W. Bush were equally bad and that voting can be pointless; two ideas I reject whole heartedly. That’s still one of my favorite episodes though, as it’s tightly structured, presents its points in a challenging way, and whether you like it or not, speaks certain truths. “ManBearPig” has no thoughts about climate change to present, and has no interest in diving into it. It’s content to belittle those who believe in it and state those who are trying to improve things are losers.
What’s worse about it is it again proved influential. To this day, people still dismiss advocates for climate change as trying to fight against “ManBearPig.” It has become a symbol for people to snidely dismiss real issues, which has caused some people to see it as representative for the entire series, which is a real shame.
South Park at its best tackles subjects that others wouldn’t dare approach, and it forces you to think about them in a new way. They do this by being wickedly funny and surprisingly insightful, whether what they say matches with what you think or not. They do not just cheaply resort to smugly putting down other people.
If every episode was like “ManBearPig” though, it’d be hard pressed to deny otherwise.
Disagree? Any episodes you felt should have made the list? Any entries here you feel are being unfairly picked on here? Let us know in the comments…
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight
Royal Rumble 2000
WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack
The thirteenth annual Royal Rumble gave us one of the best matches in WWE history.
The event took place on January 23, 2000, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the start of a new decade and the WWE was gearing up to build their next great champ. And this was the match that gave one participant the push he needed to become a heavyweight legend over the next decade and arguably the greatest heel for the entire Attitude Era.
Of course, I’m referring to the Street Fight match between Triple H and Cactus Jack for the
WWF WWE Championship.
It was the match the helped Triple H earn everyone’s respect; in fact, in retrospect, it’s clear the whole match was designed as one giant promo in order to give Triple H a believable physical prowess as an ongoing champion contender. And for WWE fans who weren’t familiar with Mick Foley’s earlier hardcore wrestling, the match pretty much certified the man was indeed, truly insane.
Yes, Mankind and Undertaker had already wrestled their legendary Hell in the Cell match two years prior at King of the Ring— and yes, we had already seen plenty of street fights in the WWE— but the WWE Championship match at the 2000 Royal Rumble was a brutal, violent, and extremely bloody affair. By WWE standards, it pushed the boundaries, delivering a level of violence that casual WWE fans weren’t accustomed to seeing.
It was also a match that told an excellent story and had a remarkable buildup leading into the event.
By the summer of ’99, Triple H was finally getting the main event push he deserved thanks to the McMahon-Helmsley Faction, a partnership that benefited from that fact that at the time, Stephanie McMahon had almost full control over the WWE. Great power means great responsibility but for Stephanie McMahon, it meant scheduling unreasonable matches for the wrestlers who were deemed a major threat to her husband. The superstar most affected was none other than, Mick Foley.
Triple H and Mick Foley put on a series of exciting matches in the first year of the new millennium and with this rivalry, came some of the best writing in the history of the WWE. The compelling storyline featured legendary promos, unforgettable drama, and unusual matches designed to wear down Triple H’s main competition. One such match was the “Pink Slip on a Pole Match” between The Rock and Mankind, with the loser forced to leave the WWE. Mankind lost, and thus was fired unceremoniously, only to return two weeks later when the Rock and the rest of the WWE superstars threatened to walk out unless Mick Foley was reinstated. That night, Foley requested a Street Fight for the
WWF WWE Championship at Royal Rumble— and on a January 13 episode of SmackDown!, Foley shocked the world when he returned to the ring in his Cactus Jack persona! It wasn’t Mankind set to fight Triple H at the Royal Rumble— instead, it would be the hardcore legend.
With Mick Foley entering his final year as a full-time professional wrestler, fans were expecting big things from the legend, and the 2000 Royal Rumble Championship match did not disappoint. There have been plenty of Street Fights in World Wrestling Entertainment history, but one would be hard-pressed to find one better than this classic. It was the fifth match of the night— in one of the best Royal Rumble pay-per-view events to date— and by far the most memorable match on the card.
Cactus Jack gained the early advantage after repeated punches but it didn’t take long before both men took to the outside the ring using everything in their reach including the ring bell, the stairs, a couple of trash cans and more. The match featured multiple chair shots to the head along with the destruction of both announce tables and at one point, the two men even took the fight into the crowd. But the real turn of the match came earlier when Cactus brought out a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire, and slammed it across the skull of Triple H, busting his forehead wide open. It was brutal. It was bloody, and for some fans, it was hard to watch.
Reminiscent of prior a Royal Rumble, Triple H managed to handcuff Cactus Jack and continue to use the steel chair as a weapon, taking advantage of a man who could barely defend himself. Eventually, The Rock made a brief cameo, striking Triple H across the head with a chair, and allowing a police officer enough time to remove Jack’s handcuffs so he could continue to fight. Soon after, Cactus Jack was ready to seal the match but made the mistake of pouring hundreds of thumbtacks onto the ring. In a quick turn of events, Triple H fought back to take control of the match and hit his Pedigree finisher on his opponent, slamming the challenger face-first onto a large pile of thumbtacks and in the process and sealing the victory. The finish was gut-wrenching and graphic but well-scripted given the level of hatred and disdain the Superstars had for each other. Both men took a beating, but in the end, it was Triple H who escaped the victor.
The brutality of the match is a reminder of the differences between the current WWE and the Attitude Era. Nowadays, the WWE doesn’t allow blood in their matches, never mind the use of barbwire and thumbtacks as weapons to use against your opponents. It was a match of its time; a match that stands the test of time— and one of the greatest matches in Royal Rumble history, fueled by the emotion of the competitors, and an epic storyline that would prove Triple H a legitimate headliner.
On a night filled with memorable moments such as the Tables Match between the Hardy Boyz and the Dudely Boyz, not to mention The Rock’s unforgettable Royal Rumble win, Triple H and Mick Foley ended up stealing the show— but it was far from the latest chapter in their rivalry. With the stage set for another iconic battle, the Hardcore Legend and Triple H would step inside a Hell in the Cell for yet, another epic encounter.
- Ricky D
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
Royal Rumble 2003
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.
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