Archive for August, 2009
Some of the best episodes of South Park are simple extensions of a single joke. Parker and Stone will present one simple idea and then play it to death usually, when it works, just before it goes so far that it’s annoying. Then there are episodes that deftly mix multiple elements together for a hilarious episode.
“The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers” fits into the latter category. It’s not just a fun parody of The Lord of the Rings, it’s also a great treatment of these adolescents boys first experience with pornography. The show puts these elements to great use while also utilizing a lot of peripheral characters in a fun way. The episode, in a lot of ways, serves as a grand tour of South Park.
But, as has happened often since his introduction, Butters steals the show. After accidentally watching the porno movie – he goes insane. Gollum insane. Now he’s after “his precious,” while the other boys are tasked with returning the tape. Meanwhile, the 6th graders, who are a bit more “learned” in what might be on the tape – want it too.
As the plot mirrors the events of Lord of the Rings, it’s fun to watch as other kids join in. Like when they go to Clyde’s house and ask to speak to the “Elf of Feragon” – it takes Clyde a minute and he has to shut the door and return in costume – and in character. There’s a great dichotomy here between the 4th graders and the 6th graders. It’s essentially the difference between kids who are still into dressing up and playing make-believe and the kids who essentially lost interest in doing that when they became interested in watching a porno tape.
There’s also a lot of nice little jabs at the LOTR phenomenon, it’s pretensions and over indulgence – both in terms of the movies and the books (I say this as a huge fan). While at the same time acknowledging the power the series has with its fans. It’s fun to watch the show juggle the stories and hit several targets within one scene.
Trey Parker has said of this episode that it’s “a perfect example, to us, about how much fun the show can be when it’s just kids being kids.” It’s sometimes easy to forget that this is, for the most part, how South Park got started before expanding its character roster and frequently tackling pop culture and other issues as well as the trials of small time adolescence. This is an episode that manages to do just all of that at once, in twenty-two minutes.