Diehard South Park fans–and I'll count myself among those who watch every week, even though we don't blog it every week–know that even the greatest episodes can be extremely hit-and-miss, and that may actually be part of the show's appeal at this point. Even the episodes that have some obvious clunk to them, like last night's "Canada On Strike," are capable of redeeming themselves with both pointed and pointless humor. So "Canada On Strike," despite some square-peg/round-hole jokes about the Writer's Guild strike (remember that thing?) was a stone classic. (It should be noted that last week's Heavy Metal-inspired fake-drug episode was pretty Goddamn great, too.)
But onto Canada: The country, hoping for some ethereal royalties from the Internet and a little bit of worldwide respect, decides to go on strike. South Park Canadians, for you casual viewers, are different from South Park Americans in that they have incredible accents, tiny beady eyes, and heads that essentially split at the mouth when they speak. Canadian official Stephen Abootman (read it aloud) leads the country in a great musical number, "Canada On Strike," reminiscent of Bigger, Longer, And Uncut. Sure, you can accuse Parker and Stone of repeating themselves, but if they can do it this well, go for it.
But the real greatness of this episode comes from the boys' plot to get Canada some money. (Their interest: getting their Canadian cartoon heroes Terrance and Phillip back to work.) They figure that by making a viral video, they can get some Internet money to give to Canada. And the best idea for a viral video? Butters singing a come-on called "What What In The Butt."
When they go to the nebulous company that apparently pays viral-video stars for their 15 seconds of fame, they meet the ridiculous cadre of dumbasses that have captured Web attention over the past couple of years: Chocolate Rain guy, Star Wars kid, the "leave Britney alone" guy, Tron guy. You know, your favorite things that you laughed at for two seconds and then moved on, but who are probably trapped in a word of Internet celebrity they created. Things get bloody.
Along the way, there's more time for joking about the WGA strike–the payoff to that is actually pretty hilarious, and it's clear that Parker and Stone feel that the writers completely screwed themselves in the long run, but that subplot is almost beside the point. This was a great episode because the jokes came quick and funny, not because there was some huge point to be made. Oh, that, and they took a little time to make fun of Family Guy, which is always welcome, whether you love FG or hate it.
-- Terrance and Philip are still funny, especially in the "guy/friend/buddy" exchanges with Stephen Abootman.
-- You can watch every episode in full at southparkstudios.com, which is pretty cool.