South Park is at its strongest when it finds a bit and it commits to it. That's what made last week's episode so great, and the same can be said here.
On "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" the writers spoofed "I shouldn't have..." reality shows. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny on a ziplining tour? What could go wrong, right?!? And, let's face, things going wrong is the cornerstone of comedy because if everything went right, it probably wouldn't be all that funny.
To make a long story short, when sliding down a rope at a moderate speed is combined with annoying time-wasting tour groups that discuss pointless minutiae ad nauseam, it causes the boys to suffer. That's some good comedic material ripe for South Park to mine!
The constant cuts to diagrams of internal organs, showing synapses in the brain going off or just what was causing Cartman's diarrhea throughout the episode, was too much. They were also the kind of hilarious exaggerations - reality shows really do depicts these kinds of diagrams- that the episode absolutely nailed.
But none of the mockery of tours and tour groups that came before the boys found themselves on a boat in a way we've never seen them before... as actual humans. These live-action bits provided the best moments. Mocking the reenactments seen in these "I survived" progrms, seeing a teary confession from "Stan" while the group suddenly developed "cold sores" - thanks to Kenny - would be funny on its own.
Witnessing an actual version of Stan reveal the reason why they went ziplining in the first place? That pushes it to classic territory.
We've become so accustomed to the animated versions of the boys that when the show breaks its style (like the realistic sketches from "Free Willzyx") that it is instantly memorable. Could I have done with seeing real-life Cartman suffering the after-effects of Diet Double Dew and fast food off the side of the boat? Maybe. But it was disgustingly comical at least. Then, the revelation of how the boys got home, and the "actual rescue photographs" that went along with it, were absurd, featuring a welcome cameo from a character we haven't seen in a while.
Also, in great moments in Comedy Central advertising: the episode mocked Mountain Dew the whole time... then Ugly Americans had an ad for Mountain Dew. It's not as dissonant as when an Indiana Jones DVD ad aired after the South Park episode making fun of it, but, hey, Comedy Central knows who butters its bread. Dew the math.
This episode sharesd a lot of strengths with last week's "Butterballs," even calling back to the San Diego bit, because both just had so much going for them. There were fewer laugh-out-loud moments here, but it was another memorable half hour of television. Relive it now in our section of South Park quotes.