First off, allow me to clarify my position on South Park, because my compatriot Sean O'Neal has grossly oversimplified my views on the show. He claims that he likes the socially relevant South Park, while I'm interested primarily in fart jokes. This is not true. I am interested in funny, first and foremost, and if Parker and Stone can squeeze funny and social commentary into one episode, I'm happy. But it's gotta be funny. And even the most diehard fans among you will have to admit that when they get to sermonizing hardcore, the funny can sometimes come to a screeching halt.
Or, as was the case with tonight's episode, it never really got up to speed. There was one big message–we're overly reliant on the Internet, and we mostly use it for time-wasting bullshit–which was beaten until it wasn't all that funny anymore. It started pretty great, with the entire Marsh family being chastised by Mrs. Marsh for spending too much time online. (My girlfriend said, "That's how I feel!") Then, tragedy strikes: The Internet disappears. In an overlong homage to The Grapes Of Wrath, the Marsh family packs up the car and heads "Californee way" to find some Internet.
A black-and-white sequence on their dustbowl journey provided some laughs, particularly the Okies talking about what they were going to do when they finally got to the promised land and got Internet back. ("I'm gonna click on everything in sight!") But of course, all that awaits them in California is refugee camps with limited Internet access–only 40 seconds per person.
Randy, meanwhile, is desperate to beat off, and he can't get any privacy. The camp's "Internet Porn Simulator" is fairly funny, with Randy asking for his favorite fetishes only to receive crude stick-figure drawings. (Trey and Matt even got a chance to reference "2 Girls 1 Cup.") Randy loves his nasty porn, explaining, "Once you jack off to Japanese girls puking in each other's mouths, you can't go back to Playboy!" When he finally gets some release, it provided the biggest laugh in tonight's episode: Randy covered in mountains of his own jizz, and explaining, "It wasn't me, it was a spooky ghost!" And what does that tell me? That the funniest joke in this episode wasn't actually commentary, but a dick joke.
Anyway, it turns out that the Internet is in a bunker deep underground, and it looks like a giant blue router. Kyle comes in and volunteers to solve the problem. If you didn't see his solution–unplugging the Internet and then plugging it back in–coming ten miles away, you've never used the Internet. Then More social commentary. Shelly (always good to see her) can't talk to her Internet boyfriend in person, because clearly the Internet has desocialized us (I can agree with that, but it wasn't a great joke). Then Randy makes a big speech echoing/parodying environmental speeches of yore. His jacket was funny, the speech wasn't. Moments of tonight's episode were funny, but as a whole, it was just okay.
-- No Cartman. Never a great sign.