South Park – Sarcastaball

One of the most remarkable things about South Park is that Matt Parker and Trey Stone make each episode in six days.  For a live action show that would be a short turnaround, but for an animated show it seems almost impossible.  Yet they somehow manage to do it, and for the most part they’ve achieved a consistent level of quality over the show’s fifteen and a half seasons so far.

The 16th season returns after a summer break with ‘Sarcastaball’, with an episode that references current events in the NFL and gives Randy Marsh and Butters centre stage.

The episode opens with Randy watching an NFL match with the boys when a player suffers a big hit.  He gets up, dazed, and appears to be searching for his car keys (despite having his license suspended after a previous concussion) then seems to believe he’s driving his car.  At half-time former NFL players appear on the field, and they too are acting strangely, with one walking around with his pants around his ankles, and another seemingly believing that he is making a cake.  Randy isn’t happy about the NFL’s policies on concussion, and his mood sours further when Stan tells him that the school football team no longer allows kickoff returns, because they are deemed too dangerous.

This sets Randy off on a sarcastic rant about how attitudes towards player safety are sooo good for the game, a rant he continues at a PTA meeting.  He tells the assembles adults that the kickoff rule isn’t going far enough, why not have the players wear bras and use a balloon instead of a football too?  And somehow, despite his obvious sarcasm, the teachers agree, and not long after, Randy has invented a new sport called Sarcastaball.  He quickly becomes the new team’s head coach, sarcastically barking out tactics to the team as hugs and politeness become key parts of the game.

For Butters, the new sport is a dream come true.  As he’s told earlier in the episode, he sucks at everything, not just football, but Butters has always been a very polite little boy, and because of this politeness, he excels at Sarcastaball.  When Randy is hired by the Denver Broncos to be their head coach when the NFL becomes the Sarcastaball league, Butters replaces him, inspiring the team with his stories about the ‘creamy goo’ inside everyone.

But it quickly becomes clear that this is not a metaphorical ‘creamy goo’ but err, how should I put this, well, it’s a literal goo that Butters produces himself, usually when he’s asleep and dreaming about girls.  Yes, it’s that kind of goo.  Because Butters is such an innocent child, he believes it when his dad tells him that his goo is special, and as a result he saves it when he squeezes it out, and has amassed a large collection of it.  When Cartman becomes disillusioned about the lack of creamy goo inside himself, he visits Butters for advice.  It’s then that Butters shows Cartman his collection, and Cartman takes a swig from one bottle, and can immediately feel the creamy goo feeling growing inside him.

It’s not long before Butters Creamy Goo is a nationwide phenomenon, with Sarcastaball players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning endorsing it.  Meanwhile Randy is discovering that his sarcasm is taking over his life and he just cannot stop.  When he visits a doctor about it, his sarcastic responses to the medical advice he gets makes the doctor decide to put more research into the effects of sarcasm on the brain, taking funds away from cancer research to investigate sarcasm instead.

It’s an awful lot to pack into one episode, but this is a strong episode, and it can’t be a coincidence that a pay dispute between referees and the NFL was resolved within hours of the episode airing (yes it can).  It’s good to have South Park back.

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