‘South Park’ Takes Aim in Tenth Season

In the second episode of ‘South Park”s 10th season, Comedy Central’s most lucrative and long standing series, established that they intend to put nontopical, original plotlines on the back burner, and continue to satirize everything and anything in their way.
The focus of this episode’s attack was hybrid car drivers, the formerly untouchable George Clooney and the entire city of San Francisco.
Resident Jew, Kyle Brovlosky and his family move from South Park to the more ‘progressive’ San Francisco, forcing best friend Stan Marsh to write a song that urges citizens of the Rocky Mountain town to jump on the hybrid bandwagon. The town follows suit, but while saving smog emissions the town inadvertently creates a ‘smug’ cloud, which turns dangerous when combined with a similar smug cloud created by the Frisco city and George Clooney’s Oscar acceptance speech.
Though amusing, this week’s episode paled in comparison to the season premier, ‘The Return of Chef,’ an episode that revolutionized the role of topicality in television.
For those not up to date on ‘South Park’ news, or Scientology news, or Tom Cruise news, the season premiere was a pitch-perfect response to recent funny business involving Isaac Hayes, former voice of former character Chef, the soul singer who abruptly left the show citing the show’s ‘religious intolerance’ as his primary problem.
Hayes, a practicing Scientologist, was apparently referring to last season’s episode ‘In the Closet,’ a scathing satire of both Tom Cruise’s sexuality and Scientology’s legitimacy as a religion.
Questions were raised after Hayes’ abrupt departure for several reasons. First, it seemed absurd for a staple character to suddenly quit the show after nine seasons of ruthless spoofing of Jews, Christians, Mormons and Muslims and pull the religious intolerance card. Second, the Scientology episode aired last November, yet it took Hayes until March to realize the show offended him.
The largest and most disconcerting mystery rose last week when an MSNBC editorial alleged in a column that Hayes’ has been unable to eloquently leave anything due to a mild stroke that the singer/actor suffered in January. Hayes did in fact have a stroke, but it is unclear whether it has restricted his speaking ability or acted as a cause for his seemingly erratic behavior.
The stroke factor has, however, caused conspiracy theorists to rightfully question whether Hayes made this decision on his own or if he was assisted by the notoriously hands-on Scientology operatives.
‘South Park’ news then heated up even more when Hayes’ departure from the show was followed by Comedy Central’s abrupt pulling of a repeat of the ‘In the Closet’ episode, citing a priority to air Hayes dedication episodes as the reason.
Internet news and gossip sites offered an alternative reason. Sources from inside Paramount Studios allege that the episode was pulled because Scientologist Tom Cruise threatened to do no promotion for this summer’s ‘MI:III’ unless the episode was pulled. This matters for ‘South Park’ because both Comedy Central and Paramount Studios are owned by Viacom Entertainment. Cruise’s reps have denied any connections with the episode being pulled.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone replied with a statement in Variety that amusingly sounded like a battle cry from a science fiction novel.
‘So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!’
Parker and Stone also went to work on the season opener, which was able to respond to the recent news due to the fact that a South Park episode only takes five days to make.
‘The Return of Chef’ turned out to not only be a perfect response to the minibattle, but a lucrative response as well. A reported 3.5 million viewers tuned into the opener, which was the best season opener for the show since 2002 and a million more viewers than the average rating numbers for the entire ninth season.
‘The Return of Chef’ chronicles Chef’s return to South Park after traveling the world with the Super Adventure Club. However, the kids of South Park notice Chef is acting differently upon his arrival, in that he wants to have sex with all the children of the small town.
After a short investigation Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman find out that the Super Adventure Club enjoys traveling the world and raping small children. They have also apparently brainwashed Chef.
The episode then focuses on trying to bring back Chef from the brainwashing of this ‘fruity little club,’ as Kyle puts it, an obvious indictment of Scientology. The children fail in the end, but stress in a somewhat sweet fashion that they should not blame Chef for his changes, but rather the ‘fruity little club’ that brainwashed him.
The 10th season of South Park looks to further the television’s shows ability to act as a topical platform for satire, though it is unclear whether any of the season’s episodes will have the momentum and effect of the opener.