'South Park' season premiere review warning: Don't read about 'HUMANCENTiPAD' on a full stomach

One of the little miracles of pop culture, South Park proceeds with its obsessions about the nature of freedom and the (im)precision of language, its mass-culture insults and its cult-culture shout-outs. It doesn’t care whether we get all the references, or take offense at the jokes, which only makes us love it all the more.

And which makes us masochists far happier than Kyle and the two people who were yoked together and made to form the “HUMANCENTiPAD,” the title and subject of the season premiere.

Joining together two wildly disparate elements, one of the best-known entities in the world (Apple and its products such as the iPad) and one of the least-known (the cult film The Human Centipede), the half hour was an unspeakable pleasure. I mean that almost literally: If you told someone (or described in a blog post) that this week’s South Park was about a new Steve Jobs invention that conjoins three humans, “mouth to butthole,” their waste products powering a new tablet device — why, any decent person would be repulsed, correct?

Count me among the indecent, I’m afraid. The scabrously funny half hour also worked in  a plot about Cartman becoming petulantly enraged at his mother for not buying him an iPad and doing many spluttering variations on the old joke formula “I like to get kissed before I get f—ed.” Trey Parker and Matt Stone take their language seriously, which means that their South Park characters took the phrase literally, and the first thing you knew, Cartman was appearing on Dr. Phil being treated with Phil-istine piety as the victim of his mother’s supposed assault.

Combine both story lines — the HUMANCENTiPAD one hinged on the notion that people don’t read the Apple agreements they sign off on, and thus allow themselves to be tracked at any location and human-centipeded — and you see that the themes are Parker-Stone perennials: Knowledge really matters; many people are lazy and thus prey to exploitation. Humanist misanthropes, Parker and Stone are some kinda evangelical libertarians.

All this, plus Highlander jokes. And was it a coincidence that in my TV market, at least, the first ad during the first commercial break was for the Motorola Xoom tablet? Brilliant touch.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (165 total) Add your comment
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  • The Devil

    Wow, fantastic review Ken Tucker. Very layered and will give me something to think about when I watch the episode later tonight. Haha, whooda thunk South Park coul be as deeply analyzed as a Shakespeare play?

    • MultiPass

      Agree. ken was on his game tonight. There’s hope for you yet, Tucker.

      • Maldini

        Well, it’s not so bad. Anybody cares to explain what he means by Highlander jokes?

      • The Truth

        The quickening between the “geniouses.”

      • Maldini

        cheers @ The Truth

    • LOL

      I’m hungry for cuttlefish and asparagus.

      • hello

        I wonder what THAT tasted like?

    • “whooda thunk South Park coul be as deeply analyzed as a Shakespeare play?”

      anyone who’s watched the show beyond its first 7 or 8 seasons

      • Majeed

        It somehow didn’t occur to me while we were tanilkg that you specifically picked the thing Marjan would like best. I just thought you were picking the coolest thing on the internet.

  • kara

    Sorry but South Park lost its relevance years ago. Parker and Stone have lost their edge.

    • Sandy

      I love SP. Because of the nature of the show, I don’t think it will ever become irrelevant. Just look at how well The Simpsons is still doing.

      I loved last season of SP. There were so many great episodes. I think my favorite was Cartman as a race car driver.

      As for this episode, I can’t comment because I haven’t seen it yet. I have to admit it looks pretty gross though. I can hardly watch the episodes with Stan’s Christmas poo character talking (don’t remember his name).

      • bhm1304

        That would be Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo

      • Pete

        Kara, your unoriginal comment lost it’s relevance and it’s edge back in 2005, so you should keep your pie hole shut!

      • @DJP

        And your cakehole, too

    • Larry

      kara you’re thinking about Simpsons and all other Fox cartoons

      • Sam

        Well said Larry. F— FAMILY GUY. I mean seriously, South Park is very clever humor. I love the satire and subtle ways of making fun of us American’s. No one will ever come close to South Park. NEVER

      • Jeremy

        No, actually Kara was thinking about South Park. She was dead on. Although her point does also apply to The Simpsons and Family Guy. South Park, although still capable of funny episodes, jumped the shark years ago.

      • Bob

        Yet another “winner” spouting about something jumping the shark. Guess what? “Jumping the shark” jumped the shark a few years ago when he sold out to TV Guide.

      • Pillow Pants

        I don’t think off-the-wall cartoons can jump the shark. They have HUMPED the shark (or rather it was the shark that did the humping) but that was very much the spirit of the show. Jumping the shark is when shows pull a stunt to bring back viewers or when they are on the way out, and just say ‘f it, we’re gonna do what we want.’ Shows like SP take that approach out the gate.

      • Andy

        @Pillow Pants — THANK YOU for making the point that the phrase “jumping the shark” is being quite misused here (and is misused often, for that matter). A show whose opening episode featured an alien/anal prob plot-line with cursing children and baby-kicking can hardly “jump the shark” any more than it initially did to garner attention. The episodes of last few seasons has been as equally in the vein of the show’s storytelling themes/tactics and approach to popular culture as any early episode even (and, arguably, more cleverly so). It’s very annoying to see how people use the phrase “jump the shark” with a show like this that pretty much garnered viewers from the get-go with shocking material. It’s a testament to Trey and Matt that it can still make valid statements about society and pop culture even more than a decade later.

    • DC

      south park is still relevant and still hilarious. simple as that.

      • Alyaqouta

        How does everyone keep from feenilg caged up/ under-worked on rest days? Goats? : Not sure what this is? From the context I guess it is weakpoints or difficlut areas. So goats : proper running form, getting MWOD in, Muscle ups, timing for DUs, HSPU, and snatches (probably form on all Oly lifts) and resting on thursdays.:)

    • supertrooper

      Book of Mormon anyone? They still have their edge. Don’t you worry honey.

    • Mike

      It’s still wildly popular, but that IS your opinion :).

    • karas dumb

      idiot.

      • Kayla

        “karas dumb” what? (You forgot punctuation).

    • J Go

      I disagree with you, Kara. If anything, South Park has become MORE relevant over the last few years. New technology has allowed Parker and Stone to create shows on current events and air them as they’re happening, so the episodes are actually more up-to-date than ever.

      • Mike

        ^THIS.

        I think the last few seasons of South Park have delivered some of the most clever and scathing commentary about our (pop) culture seen anywhere. They’ve also been funnier than ever.

      • Luceritho

        Happy Birthday Drew. Loved the 1st Drew TV and look forward to many more and now I know how to make a soalfwnke from a coffee filter! Good job of teaching us how.

    • Tom

      Lost its EDGE?? Are you kidding??? Did you see the episode?? That was not only perhaps the MOST DISGUSTING South Park episode ever (and that’s saying A LOT), it may well have been the MOST DISGUSTING animated scene I’ve ever seen!

      How can anyone say they have lost their edge? I mean clearly they are STILL pushing the outside of the envelope between good and bad taste (no pun) and what can be shown on TV! What other show that has run as long is STILL daring to find new depths of dark humor with which to offend/entertain its audience?

    • mcmahon

      Actually, WWE lost its Edge — Edge retired from wrestling last week.

      • JMB in FL

        That’s the best wrasslin’ I’ve ever seen.

  • Niki

    Some of the images from the episode are very close to illegal. I think they are trying too hard. Usually the sign when a show is declining. Their next show should be showing the characters water skiing and jumping over a shark.

    • Django

      They already made fun of themselves for jumping the shark by actually having an animated version of the Fonz jump over a shark…almost. He got eaten, actually.

    • DW

      Plus the images are straight out of The Human Centipede.

    • Pillow Pants

      Have you never seen the show before? They’ve always pushed legal boundaries. The only fault I find with the episode is nobody can top that one film critic’s rant about the human centipede or Tosh’s play-by-play. That running joke fell a little flat for me.

    • dm

      really sick how much south park depicts kids in sexual situations. The show is funny sometimes, but that picture above is really sick. Supposed to be a joke, ironic, a commentary on whatever, I know, but enough already. This show seems like a pedophile’s dream.

      • Pillow Pants

        It wasn’t a sexual situation. Sick, yes. Sexual, no. It was spoofing a gross movie about a mad scientist, not a pedo.

      • K

        I take it you are unaware of the plot of “The Human Centipede”, which this episode was spoofing. As Pillow Pants said, there’s nothing sexual going on. Unless you think it’s a turn-on to see people surgically stitched together so that the back two are force-fed human feces straight from the anus of the person in front of them…

  • Bob

    Though it has been slowing down these past few years, even at its worst South Park is the most intelligent and liberating show on television. Any show that points out what a turd Couric and Bono are is a rare gem based in reality.

    • Ruby

      This

    • aleksa

      It’s true; even not great “South Park” episodes are funnier and more biting than much of what’s passing for comedy anymore.

  • Carleen

    I’m very disappointed. This was terrible.
    Although I knew it was coming from the episode title, it was still a bit unbearable to watch.

    The sad thing is, It had potential. It had quite a few clever running jokes, but it was a mistake to try and parody The Human Centipede. It was gross, and not in the typical South Park funny way.

    But I’m not terribly upset. Matt and trey have just gotten back from New York where they’ve been working for months on The Book of Mormon. They’re probably very tired and creatively drained. I just hope they can get their groove back and get some better episodes out in this run.

  • Kieran

    @Kara I admit, Season 14 was a huge disappointment (I blame the fact they were too busy focusing on their new musical, but with that out of the way) but this episode was actually pretty funny, certainly better than any episode from last season so I think this season will overall be definitely better.

    @Niki Watch it before you judge. Seeing a few frames of an episode is not enough to comment on it.

    • Niki

      I did watch it. That is why I commented.

  • Shannon

    Watched it. Did not crack a smile once. Time to end the show. It had a long run now time to have a final season and end it on a relative high note and not wait until it becomes more desperate than it is already.

    • Kenny

      As much as I hate to admit it, I agree. Loved the show in seasons past, but it has lost itself in recent seasons.

      • Melisa

        I’ve never listened berofe. It was super funny. I knew it had something to do with Jimmy Eat World. You were obsessed. Do I get a t-shirt or poster? I have the NY trip on tiny tapes that I need to put on a dvd. When I finally get them transfered, do you want a copy?

    • Damon

      Wow, judge, jury, executioner. Maybe you can just stop watching it.

      I laughed from the start to the end…

      • Princess

        Tabata is an interval syestm studied by a Japanese physiologist. Basically, the theory is that 8 rounds of 20sec on 10sec off at 85% VO2 max provides not only excellent anaerobic (obviously) training, but aerobic training as well. Once the subject could do 9 rounds at that pace, the resistance on the training bike was increased.Though this study only has n of about 15 (and deals strictly with VO2), crossfit has adopted the timing sequence for most everything you could think of, from abdonimal crunches to the zoft press.

    • BP

      Sounds like an apple fan who can’t take criticism. Boo Hoo. Go back to your inferior overpriced fad products.

      • hamoboy

        ^This. Exactly this.

  • Mikel

    Isn’t the picture EW is showing (and certain parts of the episode) considered child porn?

    • Kris

      Its not child porn if its a cartoon.

    • Sandy

      Nope. The Supreme Court ruled that child porn must depict acts done by real human children. Depicts, drawings, cartoons, etc. are not considered child porn.

      • Shanker

        Humping the Shark

    • Maddy

      Ummm . . . child pornography has to depict an actual child. Not an animated character.

    • Morgan

      I can understand why that would be brought up. To me the episode was in poor taste – even for a South Park episode. There is a fine line between being cutting edge and just being disgusting. I think South Park went disgusting tonight. Probably to get people to discuss it and watch.

      • Crystal

        The episode was parodying the Human Centipede, of course it was in poor taste!! Parker and Stone probably pride themselves on being in poor taste and disgusting because it makes people like you dismiss them. It also had a lot of smart things to say about our culture, but it seems like you missed the point of that too.

      • John

        sucks that I can’t watch those movies since I live in Germany Did Cindy today. 13 Rounds. Had not pull-up bar.. so suebbd with bar rows feet elevated above hands. .. Right now I’m working on my shoulder mobility, OHS, and speed through the middle

    • Corey

      Maybe the supreme court does not call it child porn but still – why else would they use children characters instead of all adults? Legally it may be fine but I still question the motives of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. With all the pedophiles out there why would they do something to encourage them?

      • bluenewt

        Well, if outbreaks of paedophiles creating human centipedes from children occur we’ll know who to blame.

      • Pillow Pants

        yeah pretty sure the dude behind the centipede in the movie was a mad scientist, and not doing it for sexual reasons as was also the case in the cartoon. It was foul and disgusting, but also asexual.

      • teej

        Anyone that found anything sexually stimulating about that ep – pedophile or not, is one sick puppydog.

      • Vinny

        It was our fourth take of that seuqence and we could no long remember what we had previously talked about and what we already spoke of. Everything just started to blend together. ^^; If you want to make a list of adaptations that we can talk about though, I would not be opposed.

  • chooch

    Sorry Ken, I got the point of the show right away and for the next half hour Parker & Stone felt the need to hit me over the head with it. Awful and a huge disappointment for their season premiere. I was hoping for something new.

  • psb1962

    I loved this episode..it ti right up there with the Snooki one!!!

    • The Man

      You sound so intelligent!!!!

  • Alexis

    “Evangelical libertarians”? Ha! No, they’re not libertarians. They don’t have any principles. They’re not Milton Friedman, but Tucker Max, if anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a truly libertarian show out there, but they aren’t it. They may wander into the territory every once in a while, but that’s mostly due to their mealy-mouthed; intellectually lazy; postmodern-guilt-free-offend-everyone-and-cross-every-line-you-don’t-want-us-to-cross-just-for-the-sake-of-it-so-we-don’t-have-to-actually-commit-to-anything philosophy.

    • Crystal

      They cross every line they can because they want to comment on the line itself: Why has society drawn the line here at all? Why else would they threaten to draw Muhammad or have the Virgin Mary bleed out her a**? If you don’t recognize it as more than just shock value, you’ve missed the point and the value of the show. (Don’t get me wrong, I know they’ve done things just for shock value, but that’s mainly Family Guy territory and we know how Parker and Stone feel about that show . . .)

    • Brett

      Dear Self,In ten years I hope to have children that know how to share their toys with other kids. Unlike my sietsr who always wanted to show Shannon how to play with toys!!I am listening to the coolest band righ now and going to Old World to see some shows.Love Self hehe

  • Alice

    I am a huge south park fan. It’s my favorite show. I must admit, though, that this episode was terrible. It’s upsetting that this was the season premiere, but I don’t think the whole season will be this weak. I completely agree with Carleen. I can pretty much always handle the obscenity of south park (even though honestly I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as family guy usually) but this just went too far. I wasn’t mortified by it but it did take away the comedic aspect. It was just a bad episode. I’m surprised people think the show should end. There have been some really strong episodes in the seasons preceding this one.

    • Ryan

      It is not just this episode. The show is either boring, dumb or like tonight – terrible. I cannot see it being anybody’s favorite show anymore. Stone and Parker are no longer funny. This episode is just proof that they need to wrap this up and call it a night.

    • Crystal

      It was a million times funnier than last season’s premiere. That was probably the least funny episode of South Park ever!

  • Brendan

    The show became a satire after the first few seasons but it wasn’t always that way. It worked for a while, but I have to agree that it has been failing for the past few years. I miss the days when the episodes didn’t rely on dramatic music and current events and trends as much.

    • Diane

      They totally missed an opportunity to properly spoof Apple. Instead, they veered off into weird territory by bringing in too many other elements that made it unfunny. “The Human Centipede” is a disgusting movie and not something that many people would find funny. They could have come up with any number of ways to get their points across. They chose the low road.

      • Tom

        I disagree. Kyle only becomes part of the human centipede because he signs away his rights to privacy and to not be abused to Apple. My take on it was that they wanted to make a point about people unwittingly giving permission to corporations for things that they would never consent to if the “Terms and Conditions” weren’t hidden. My guess is that Matt & Trey were thinking “what’s the worst violation of human rights that we can think of that we could claim that Kyle unwittingly colunteered for?” Then they thought: “Oh yeah, remember that Human Centipede film?”

        No one would willingly consent to having their every movement tracked (as you can do with the IPhone) or to have their names and addresses sold to spam advertisers. But those things happen all the time to everyone today. And, when people object to corporate dominance, they usually hear the same thing that Steve Jobs told Kyle: “You volunteered! See here’s your signed consent.”

    • Pillow Pants

      the pilot was Jesus fighting Santa…how was that not satirical?

  • econruth

    I’m definitely reading ALL my agreements before I agree! Cartman finally getting punished by first his Mom and then God was a great way to begin the season.

  • Dave

    I thought this episode was kind of disappointing for a season premiere. It was trying too hard. I think I only laughed once or twice. Hopefully next week’s episode will be better.

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