TV Review: South Park 12.11 – “Pandemic 2 – The Startling”

“Pandemic 2 – The Startling” is the first bad story arc I’ve seen from South Park.  The arcs try to utilize long-form parodies that can’t be contained within one South Park episode, but two episodes parodying a year-old monster movie?  “Pandemic” barely merited one episode, yet guinea pigs cavort around in bunny, dinosaur and bee costumes here.  It’s like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch come to animated life.

“Pandemic 2 – The Startling” repeats itself ad nauseam for twenty-odd minutes.  Craig feels the need to explain why Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny get into dangerous situations all the time.  That’s great, he’s explaining the South Park formula, very “meta.”  Trouble is, he’s not funny.

Craig even has to point out which shows South Park is referencing when the boys enter the Guinea Valley, a “Land of the Giants Lost World.”  Craig’s role in “Pandemic 2 – The Startling” is a lazy attempt at self-referential humour.  If “Pandemic 2” is meant to raise Craig to secondary-character status, the experiment fails.  He’s the voice and middle finger of reason, but he works best in small doses.

Randy’s subplot isn’t much better.  He’s still holding the video camera.  His wife Sharon gets angrier at him the more he gets shots of the guinea creatures.  Randy talks about being startled a lot and tells his daughter Shelley to wave at the camera.  Nothing about this is hilarious, but the joke keeps on going like a Peter Griffin/giant rooster fight.  It’s never a good sign when I can compare South Park unfavourably to Family Guy.

The guineasaurus rex, guinea bees, guinea pirate etc. are just guinea pigs in costumes.  South Park contrives a bullshit explanation for this, in that things grow huge in Peru’s Guinea Valley.  There’s also stuff about an ancient Incan prophecy, pan flutists keeping the guinea pigs at bay, Craig saving the world etc.  I feel the same way as Craig does throughout the episode.  I just don’t care.

“Pandemic 2 – The Startling” is a disappointing episode.  It takes a good sight gag and literally stretches it to the breaking point.  This isn’t the worst episode of the season as “Pandemic 2” can never reach the lows set by “Canada on Strike,” but what was the point of this episode?  Was it that funny to dress guinea pigs up in costumes?  Trey Parker and Matt Stone can do anything they want, but that doesn’t mean I’m forced to watch their every burp and fart.

Cameron Archer

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer