TV Review: South Park: A Nightmare on Face Time

jason stives is the new nightmare…

Over the last five weeks I have discussed the various kinds of stories that South Park tends to slip into which usually either have an underlying moral clause to it or is done to laugh in the face of something the creators find funny or stupid. Then you get an episode like last night’s Halloween themed “A Nightmare on Face Time,” which is really there to showcase a bunch of jokes and silly ideas and that’s perfectly fine. After the disappointing yet rather clever plot of “Going Native” it was nice to see South Park just go for a lot of one-liner jokes that for the most part played well into the horror movie setting. It’s been quite awhile since the show has done a Halloween episode something of which was a staple for the show’s earliest seasons and for the most part tonight’s running gag of sending up The Shining worked very well even if you knew exactly where it was going.

As I said back in my review of “Sarcastaball” whenever you give Randy Marsh a decent storyline to run with you get some very entertaining moments and although many were premeditated by the episode’s homage to Stephen King it had its own little spin by filtering the actions of that story through Randy’s man child rationality. The idea that led to this is pretty straight and narrow and is kind of a joke that made more sense months ago with Randy buying up a local Blockbuster at $10,000 convinced that people will still buy DVDs. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that DVD purchasing let alone renting isn’t exactly an archaic idea because it’s still a lucrative business in light of some of the limited options offered by Netflix and the fact that not everyone uses streaming technology (I do BTW).

Still, the point made is that Randy in his infinite wisdom sees a get rich quick scheme that really has no leg to stand on but he tries his damndest. I loved his constant spilling of statistics about people who live in low income homes or Midwest regions not having the bandwidth to stream movies from home. By most accounts Randy’s schemes don’t really impose logic and it was nice to see here that it was done just for the horror movie effect rather than reaching a logical end. The whole Marsh family is subjected to this with Shelly really hating this predicament to the point of trying to burn the store down.

In the midst of all this you have a B plot involving the boys, dressed as the Avengers, competing in a costume contest but due to Stan being sidelined working with his dad resorts to them using an Ipad with Stan’s face on it to represent him while trick or treating. Some of the jokes here ran thin pretty quickly, mainly the confusion that Cartman is dressed as the Incredible Hulk but keeps being mistaken for Bruce Valanche or Honey Boo Boo. Honestly, you can only go so far with that gag but what was entertaining was hearing Kenny, dressed as Iron Man, lead the charge in planning their assault on the guys trying to rob the Kum N’ Go convenience store. Outside of his Mysterion voice it was great to just hear Kenny talk abet through a mechanical filter. It was also nice that the show addressed the obnoxious trend of Gangnam Style and more importantly how everyone and their mother will probably go as PSY for Halloween this year although I would kill to see someone go as Gangnamstein.

It was great to see the show blur lines of logic especially when it came to the fact that no one seemed to notice that Stan was talking through Face Time or that the robbers didn’t stop to think that a Redbox machine wouldn’t have any money in it. It’s these things that always ground South Park in its animated form and while it has never been show that is based in a sense of reality when it gets on a soapbox it takes away from its humor at times. There was one moment that tried to be serious but clearly was just mocking tech obsessed people when after a day of capture, costume contests, and trick or treating, the Ipad holding Stan’s image gets down to 20% battery life prompting Kyle to panic for a charger. Something about Stan’s utterance of “It’s OK, it’s OK, just press OK,” that I found very amusing.

Surprisingly, there is no underlying commentary about the absorption of technology but I don’t think that was ever the intent. You could look at Ipad Stan as something of a response to the notion of kids becoming less and less active in their social life but in an episode so thinly veiled in its intent that probably wasn’t what the creators were going for. It was the smaller gags that really set this apart like Butters as a wereprechaun (a Leprechaun bitten by a werewolf) or that Randy’s idea of a perfect evening renting movies is watching Robocop 2 and the director’s cut of Blade Runner. This was a very entertaining episode without the frills and while not necessarily a laugh riot or one with the greatest quotes it was still a nice time for South Park to just run with the bulls of something that is not overly thought out and intended to knock a whole lot of ideas.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

 

All Images Credit: Comedy Central

1 COMMENT

  1. This episode has been one of my favorites of the season! Like you said, any time that Randy is the main focus, hilarious jokes are sure to follow. It’s safe to say that I am and will always be a South Park fan; just ask anyone who has seen the decorations in my office at DISH! Heck, I even make sure to record all the episodes I can get my hands on, and that’s a lot! I’m just lucky that my Hopper DVR has more than enough memory space to house them all, or else there’s no way I could have the collection that I do! Yeah, South Park definitely has its bad storylines, but episodes like this one really keep me optimistic that Trey and Matt have not ran out of brilliant ideas yet!

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