"Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure.": South Park, Season 11
(My apologies for the mix up in episode numbers last week. This is, of course, the second half of Season 11. This makes last week episode #10, and this week #11. A minor detail, but I needed to clarify.)
"Imagination land," the proposed first episode in a trilogy, is probably one of the better South Park episodes that I've seen in a long while. The episode's strongest component lies in its ability to take its own ridiculous nature to a specific level and never let up. When South Park does this, the results are usually amazing.
The episode begins with Cartman on the hunt for a leprechaun he swore he saw in the forest several times. Early on, we learn of a bet that Kyle has made with Cartman. The terms being that unless Cartman can produce proof of this leprechaun, he must pay Kyle ten dollars. On the other hand, if Eric is able to prove the leprechaun's existence, Kyle has to suck Cartman's balls.
So, yeah, this is par for the course.
Kyle, of course, made the bet knowing that it is impossible to actually prove the existence of a leprechaun. Lo and behold, however, there one comes skipping along down the forest trail. After his capture and before his escape, the mystical little fellow shrieks that the boys have made him late in warning of an impending terrorist attack! This matters not, as Cartman simply wants Kyle to suffer the humiliation of sucking his balls post haste. He has no problem mentioning this fact to Kyle's parents, as he appears at their house with both Kyle's signed contract of agreement, and a camera special for the event. Eric is not pleased with Kyle's refusal to make good on his deal.
Later, while trying to forget the fact that they can't really explain how they recently met a leprechaun, the boys are encountered by the Mayor (?) of a place called Imagination Land. He is looking for said leprechaun and wants to prove to the boys that this is all real. Before he takes them off on the Imagination Balloon, Butters makes sure that he isn't, in fact, going to rape them. When you watch the episode, try to get the "Imagination Song" out of your head. I dare ya!
The actual place Imagination Land is probably one of the best visual gags South Park has ever been able to pull off. I watched the episode twice, and I am still pretty sure that I've missed some characters. Imagination Land, you see, is where all the products of human being's imagination live. So, be it Optimus Prime, the Ninja Turtles, or the Care Bears, they are all alive and well in Imagination Land.
As it turns out, the leprechaun was right! Soon after the boys arrive, terrorists attack Imagination Land in a most gruesome, and shamefully hilarious fashion. I mean really, you haven't lived until you've seen a bloody Ronald McDonald walking around, looking for his severed arm in a brilliant Saving Private Ryan homage. In the middle of the horrid attack, a...fucking dragon shows up and whisks the boys away to safety. Unfortunately, they leave the always vulnerable Butters behind by mistake.
Meanwhile, Cartman is still stewing about his "dry balls" and decides to take Kyle to court. Losing the case rather quickly, Kyle is given 24 hours to suck Eric's balls or he will be held in contempt. Cartman celebrates with a victory party in which he dresses himself up like a Sultan, awaiting Kyle's arrival. This is funnier than it sounds, I assure you. Before Kyle is able to do the deed, however, he and Stan are taken away by the government on official business.
It seems that the terrorists have made a video from Imagination Land, with Butters reading off their list of demands. Since Butters is not an imaginary character (hehe), this made them suspicious as to who he was. This is all Mel Gibson's idea, of course, as the government turned to Hollywood to come up with ideas on how to stop these terrorists. Michael Bay and M. Night Shyamalan make cameos!
Back in Imagination Land, Butters is given the task of trying to stop the terrorists from BLOWING UP THE BARRIER BETWEEN THE GOOD IMAGINATION AND THE BAD IMAGINATION. He fails, and that's the end of part I. Not without a teaser, though, involving Eric hitchhiking to Washington to "make his own justice." He vows to a picture of Kyle, "before this is over, you WILL suck my balls."
Okay. Do you see?? DO YOU SEE? Do you see how ludicrous and convoluted this story is? Do you see why this makes it perfect? I spoke last week on Trey Parker writing small. That is not to say that I want him to write small all of the time. It is just a nice change sometimes. However, Parker does this sort of nonsense better than anyone could. It has the potential to be very entertaining watching these threads come together over the next two episodes. The satire seems to be a little obvious here, with our "imaginations running wild" and Terrorists attacking everything that we hold dear, but the rhetoric has been kept at a decided low, so far. This could be one of the better spectacles the show has been able to pull off.
Next week's recap will, no doubt, be shorter. I just needed to prove a point!