For a while I was thinking it might be time for South Park and I to part ways. We’ve had a lot of great times together and it’s made me laugh an enormous amount, but this year I found myself not really gelling with the show anymore. And then “The Scoots” came along and reignited my love for the series.
It begins with narration from an older version of Kenny, in a parody of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It, as we learn that this year Halloween was going to be different and would change them all. Mocking the way Scooters recently caused havoc in San Francisco, E-scooters suddenly appear all over South Park which everyone can use, like the Boris Bikes of Old London Town, and the gang are excited as they can use them when going trick or treating and get around faster than ever. But Mr Mackey is disturbed by their sudden appearance and wants to know where they came from, taking an instant dislike to them as he rants “I just think people should drive, okay, I don’t think people should scoot, I hope the future isn’t just scooting”. It’s made all the funnier by the fact that more and more materialise around him, with people on them crashing in to him, as an angry Mr Mackey is always the character at his best.
Kenny gets to do something for the first time in ages as well, with the gang telling him that as he doesn’t have a phone to register a scooter he’s going to slow them down so he should go with someone else. It’s a surprisingly touching moment but then a gloriously funny one when Cartman tells him “I always told you one day that being poor was going to catch up with you, you didn’t want to listen, you just kept on being poor”, and he’s rejected by other kids as well who have the same idea. When it turns out all the kids are planning to do this the parents gather together and panic and so it’s announced that each household needs to be prepared with “at least six thousand dollars worth of candy”. Cue Mr Mackey giving a big speech in an attempt to rally everyone together, which with this being South Park of course fails with the towns folk panic buying candy instead.
It’s an episode filled with many highlights, including when Stan discovers the scooters need a credit card and Cartman says “Do you want to use your mum’s or my mum’s?”, with Cartman knowing Liane’s off by heart. Also great is when Mr Mackey takes all the scooters away and throws them off a cliff, it’s an episode which for once contains some alluring visuals as the scenes are mostly in silhouette, and then it becomes even funnier when the next morning he awakes and finds them in his house and once again all over the town. There’s also some beautiful scenes where all of the kids are in their Halloween costumes angrily staring each other out, which again visually is a delight.
Kenny gets to be the hero of the piece which is lovely to see, as when he goes to Mr Mackey for counselling the two team up when Kenny tells him that you can’t use the scooters without a phone and it gives them an idea on how to save the day. I don’t think the two characters have teamed up before (but could be wrong, my memory isn’t what it was) but it works effectively, and there’s a lovely line about how Kenny is often forgotten with Mr Mackey making a great case as to why this is something of a shame. From that point on in it gets better and better in what’s already a fantastic episode, the moment where the kids all fight for scooters and descend upon the houses is almost painfully funny, with Cartman’s statement “We have to get more candy than everyone else, even if we die” being the icing on this particularly gorgeous cake. There’s even a (sort of) appearance of Jason Voorhees, and an ending which left me grinning a ridiculous amount.
I’m so glad to finally like a new episode of South Park after all this time, both plot lines are really effective and merge together splendidly, and it’s a story without any heavy moral message, it’s just kids being kids and a bunch of characters doing stupid things which is always when I think the show is at it’s best. It plays with various horror tropes in a delightful manner and is easily the most packed with jokes and appealing visual gags episode we’ve had in a long time, and it makes me wish they’d drop the topical element and stick to such joyful idiocy. It’s doubtful that this will happen but the episode shows that Parker and Stone are still more than capable of making great comedy, and so I plan to stick with the show for a good while yet.
South Park Season 22 Episode 4