South Park Madness, Round 1, Part 1

South Park Madness, Round 1, Part 1

March Madness is not limited to basketball. South Park is on hiatus until the fall, so instead of filling the void in your life by munching on some Cheesy Poofs or Chocolate Salty Balls, we created a tournament to decide the best episode of the iconic series. The format is simple: the top 16 episodes of each chuck of seasons (1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16) are divided into four regions. A rotating staff of Den of Geek writers, Chris Longo, Nick Harley, Joe Matar, Tony Sokol and David Crow, will chime in on the matchups and tell us why they think these landmark episodes in the series’ history should advance deep in our tournament.

Be sure to sound off in our comment section on which episodes you think should advance in Den of Geek’s South Park Madness bracket.

Here is the first half of the first round:

The Mr. Slave Region

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[1] Trapped in the Closet vs. [16] Majorine 

Chris Longo: So many strong elements make this one of South Park’s most memorable episodes. For now, R. Kelly singing to Tom Cruise in the closet is enough to get it by Majorine, a solid episode in its own right. Scientologists will definitely disapprove, but this episode will make a deep run in the tournament. Trapped in the Closet.

Nick Harley: I absolutely love Butters-centric episodes. Majorine definitely has its charms and is a funny episode undoubtedly, but I definitely think the Trapped in the Closet episode will go down as a classic. Like so many others, it was a controversy starter, but this episode actually went so far that Isaac Hayes, voice of Chef, quit the show. When John Travolta shows up to join Tom Cruise in the closet, that’s just one of those skewering moments that you can’t find on any other show. Trapped in the Closet.

Joe Matar: I feel like I’m picking it based on its reputation, but it does feel as though cultural impact does contribute in part to the greatness of some South Park episodes. Though Marjorine has a lot of very good stuff in it, the way Trapped in the Closet sticks it so brazenly to Scientology is just too awesome. The “THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE” part is one of the funniest, ballsiest things to ever appear on television.

[8] Ginger Kids vs. [9] Manbearpig

CL: Ginger Kids is an iconic episode in the series if for no other reason than this. When you can piss off a fat ginger kid enough to warrant a YouTube response video that gets more than 32,000,000 views, you have hit a nerve and that is what South Park is all about. This is a tough matchup since we quoted Al Gore in Manbearpig all throughout high school, but by a narrow margin I will give it to Ginger Kids.

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NH: Did it take South Park to make Al Gore a punchline? I’m not sure, but I do know that the show’s portrayal of the former vice president was insanely hilarious and I cannot look at Mr. Gore the same. Sorry, Al. Unfortunately, Al Gore running around in a cape looking for Manbearpig and saying, “I’m super serial guuuuyyysss!” isn’t enough to warrant a win here. Ginger Kids is one of Cartman’s finest hours. Ginger Kids.

JM: Manbearpig felt a bit like one of those South Parks that ran the joke a little further into the ground than it should’ve gone. Plus, anytime Cartman gets a chance to go dictatorial, it usually makes for classic stuff. I’ll go with Ginger Kids.

[5] Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy vs. [12] Le Petit Tourette

CL: Cartman as Dog the Bounty Hunter, Ike nailing a smoking hot teacher and plenty of catch phrases to repeat ad nausea. I will “go with Christ” and pick Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy. Sorry Chris Hannnnnnnsen.

NH: Ike is one of the unsung heroes of South Park whose star has somewhat faded on the show as the seasons have run on, but every now and then the little guy gets kicked right into the middle of the action. This episode might contain his best moments, but what can top the police’s reaction to the hot teacher sleeping with students. “Niiiiiiiicccccce.” Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy.

JM: The concept of Le Petit Tourette seems like it should be perfect for South Park as it both goes for a solid “Cartman abuses a disability for his own gain” plot and because it’s about cursing. But the story goes off the rails a bit near the end. Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy is a lot better written, not to mention nicely controversial. Also, Cartman as Dog.

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[4] The Return of Chef vs. [13] The Snuke

CL: If I’m accurately recalling the DVD commentary of The Snuke, Matt and Trey wanted to do a 24 parody for years. As much as I loved the 24 storytelling format and Hilary Clinton with a snizz up her snatch, a group of traveling child molesters brainwashing one of South Park’s most beloved characters moves on for its importance in the scope of the entire series. The Return of Chef.

NH: “She has a snuke in her sniz.” That line could have been enough to sell you, I know, but watching Cartman run around using his racism to unintentionally uncover a terrorist attack by the British while whisper-barking orders like Jack Bauer cannot go unmentioned. Though the old recycled dialogue used to create Chef’s lines on The Return of Chef makes this decision tough, I have to give it to The Snuke.

JM: The ridiculousness of using Isaac Hayes’ old lines all chopped up to voice Chef and the weird plot in general make The Return of Chef feel like it is breaking the fourth wall throughout the entire episode. 24 parodies are all well and good, but the deliberately bad editing of those Chef lines still makes me laugh too much to not give it to The Return of Chef.

[6] Mystery of the Urinal vs. [11] Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina

CL: The Hardly Boys are two young detectives that stole my heart in Mystery of the Urinal Deuce and I would read their detective novels in a second. But I have to go with my heart and pick Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina for the message it sends to the youth of America: what you feel on the inside is ok because modern science can turn you into an athletic black man, a woman or even a dolphin.

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NH: The conspiracy of 9/11 is ripe for picking apart, and South Park dug it is nails in deep. What I really want to know though is WHO TOOK A DUKE IN THE URINAL!?! Mystery of the Urinal

JM: Maybe it was supposed to, but Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina creeped me out more than it cracked me up. Mystery of the Urinal Deuce, however, is about poo and, specifically, how it ties into 9/11. I’ll have to go with that one.

[3] Major Boobage vs. [14] The Losing Edge

CL: I would never ‘cheese,’ but if I knew I would get sent into the trippy, boobtastic world of the 1980s cartoon movie Heavy Metal, I might have to reassess my life goals and find the nearest feline willing to piss in my face. Major Boobage.

NH: The Losing Edge never really gets much credit, but it may be the darkest half hour of comedy that South Park has ever created. The ending is brutal, the sort that makes you want to hate yourself even for smiling. That being said, how can you pass up on a Heavy Metal homage that makes cat piss look appealing? Major Boobage.

JM: Major Boobage has a lot of incredible imagery, plus cats peeing in Kenny’s face. But I think I like The Losing Edge more because I always hated having to play sports as a kid. The idea that all the teams are just trying to lose at Little League because they hate it so much is brilliant to me and possibly reflects a personal life philosophy.

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[7] With Applogies to Jesse Jackson vs. [10] Make Love Not Warcraft

CL: I am not sure how a grossly obese Cartman (more than usual) shitting all over his mom hasn’t become a meme. Make Love Not Warcraft.

NH: Cartman fighting a midget. That’s a tough one to ignore. Ah, but I must. The Warcraft episode won an Emmy and shows Matt and Trey really experimenting. Even for someone who’s not a fan of the game, this one hits the nail on the head. Make Love Not Warcraft.

JM: I do really love the messages With Apologies to Jesse Jackson is putting across. But, as a gamer who has a lot of issues with gaming culture, the commentary on it in Make Love, Not Warcraft just kicks too much ass. I also love the griefer and how he has no actual lines.

[2] Best Friends Forever v. [15] Die Hippie Die

CL: I’ll take my PSP, Heaven vs. Hell battle and Keanu Reeves references, please. Best Friends Forever.

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NH: The College Know-it-all Hippie is a real epidemic. This episode is one of the rare instances where Cartman gets to play the hero when South Park is over run by one of his most hated groups of people, hippies. Matt and Trey don’t pull any punches while going after the flower children and Cartman’s quest to destroy the stage of the hippie jam fest is as dramatic as it gets. Die Hippie Die.

JM: JM: I found Die Hippie Die kind of dumb, plus it casually made Cartman into a mass murderer (making him an indirect murderer in the Scott Tenorman episode was, contrastingly, done with clear deliberation). I like episodes that look into what goes on with Kenny after he dies and Best Friends Forever does it with some very blunt, yet smart parallels to the Terri Schiavo case.

The Imaginationland Region

[1] Scott Tenerman Must Die vs. [16] Towelie

CL: Eric Cartman was a fat little bastard before “Scott Tenerman” but that was the episode he really became Cartman. Not only does Cartman feed Scott Tenerman his parents, but he also invites Radiohead to make fun of the poor kid. Sick, brilliant, Scott Tenerman Must Die.

NH: Scott Tenerman Must Die is like the Batman Begins of the Cartman story. I love that stoner ragamuffin Towelie as much as the next guy, but this is almost the Citizen Kane of South Park stories. The addition of Radiohead into the plot gives it street cred and once again, the show works wonders when they try to make you root for Cartman. It also portrays a kid being spoon fed his parents. So there’s that. Scott Tenerman Must Die

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JM: Joe Matar: Towelie is one of my favorite episodes ever and I’ve watched it countless times. It’s certainly a lot funnier than the other option here, but I have to give it to Scott Tenorman Must Die for being such a huge South Park milestone, demonstrating how the show is unafraid to subvert expectations and go for the throat.

[8] Christian Rock Hard vs. [9] All About Mormons

CL: The first religious matchup of the tournament is a battle between contrasting storytelling styles. “Christian Rock Hard” documents the plight of Faith +1 whereas “All About Mormons” is a retelling of the story of Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet. All About Mormons narrowly takes it here for giving us a peak into a religion not too many people understand and providing the juice for Parker and Stone to create The Book of Mormon on Broadway.

NH: This is an even matched fight. But I think I have to give it to Christian Rock Hard for Cartman being absolutely certain that Token owned and knew how to play the bass. Gets me every time.

JM: Trey and Matt clearly have a Mormon obsession and, though I suppose this episode is now basically just The Book of Mormon Lite, I’ll still always enjoy the way these guys regard Mormonism with a kind of mocking respectfulness. All About Mormons.

[5] AWESOM-O vs. [12] Lil Crime Stoppers

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CL: Someday science will reach the point where a robot can spit out thousands of Adam Sandler screenplays. When it happens, we will look back at AWESOM-O with nothing but pure adoration. Cartman plus Butters equals no brainer.

NH: The Cartman and Butters team-ups are legendary but none more so then AWESOM-O. Cartman commits so hard to the bit that he helps Butters insert some suppositories. “Weak,” but so funny.

JM: Lil’ Crime Stoppers is a lot of fun, but AWESOME-O just stuck with me more. Specifically, I’ll always have Cartman in my head singing his made-up Britney Spears song, “Touch My Body.”

[4] You Got F’d in the A vs. [13] Red Hot Catholic Love

CL: I have a feeling South Park’s “You Got Served” episode could do a lot of damage in this tournament. Nothing I love more than watching a duck dance to the tune of “We’ll fight and screw till the morning time.” You Got F’d in the A.

NH: Butters having a tap dance catastrophe backstory only adds to the myth and lore of one of my absolute favorite characters. As always, Stan makes a great reluctant hero and Randy always goes down smooth as the over-bearing father. Even with the source material of the spoof waning in memory every day, this episode still stands up. You Got F’d in the A.

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JM: I love You Got F’d in the A for ridiculously parodying a film that was pretty ridiculous enough on its own. However, Red Hot Catholic Love has people eating through their butts and pooping out of their mouths. My hands are tied.

[6] Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset vs. [11] Butters’ Very Own Episode 

CL: As much as I love Paris Hilton getting the South Park treatment, Butters is a legend. His plight from auxiliary character to a main plot point began in Butters’ Very Own Episode and it stands with “Scott Tenerman” as two of South Park’s more twisted, dark episodes. Butters’ Very Own Episode.

NH: When Butters finally gets his time to shine in his very own episode, he does not disappoint. Butters naivety and normal childlike behavior makes him a pariah in a place like South Park, but that cheery attitude always finds its way through the bleakest and traumatizing of moments. Butters’ Very Own Episode.

JM: Horrors abound in both of these episodes, but the way Butters reacts like, well, Butters to all of the stuff going on in Butters’ Very Own Episode is what sells it for me. Plus, there’s the “LIAR!” scene.

[3] Woodland Critter Christmas vs. [14] The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers

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CL: Did I just say that Tenerman and Butters’ Episode are two of the more twisted episodes? Add in a third one, because the Woodland Critters completely changed the way I viewed demonic blood orgies. Stan’s Christmas story will not soon be forgotten. Woodland Critter Christmas.

NH: Is there a Christmas Special that has ever been as twisted as the Woodland Critter Christmas? The best part of the episode has to be knowing that the episode was framed as a story that Cartman was telling the class. The Return of the Fellowship episode is a fun journey episode and definitely has memorable moments, but really, did it ever stand a chance against the blood orgies?

JM: I like those times the show just remembers the protagonists are kids and puts them in somewhat more kid-authentic situations. The idea of all the kids trying to get their hands on “the most hardcore porno ever” in place of the One Ring is awesome to me. The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers.

[7] Fat Butt and Pancake Head vs. [10] South Park is Gay

CL: South Park has used homosexual characters since 1997, way before it became a mainstay in sitcoms. They exploited that trend by stepping up the metrosexual game in South Park is Gay. Randy Marsh was born to be a metrosexual, but Jennifer Lopez can’t be outdone by anyone. Fat Butt and Pancake Head can do some damage in this tournament.

NH: Ben Affleck just won an Oscar, but back in 2003, he was on South Park dating Cartman’s hand. Her name was J’ennifer Llllopez and she liked tacos and burritos, well actually, she wasn’t J’ennifer at all, he real name was…just go rewatch this classic episode. Fat Butt and Pancake Head.

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JM: South Park Is Gay amazingly enough felt like it was revisiting familiar territory with the Crab People just because of the show’s tendency to reveal that some sci-fi or fantasy creature is behind everything. Fat Butt and Pancake Head is incredibly stupid, but Hennifer Lopez and her racist, “taco taco, burrito burrito” song make me laugh too much.

[2] The Passion of the Jew vs. [15] Red Sleigh Down

CL: The Cartman anti-Semitic storyline reaches unprecedented heights in The Passion of the Jew as Stan and Kenny square off with Mel Gibson to recoup ticket movie money wasted on his film. Mel Gibson is just enough to squeak past Santa attempting to bring Christmas cheer to Iraq. The Passion of the Jew.

NH: I love the action movie treatment of Santa, but the Mel Gibson parody is probably the hardest South Park may have ever come at a celebrity. At the time of the episode, I had my own hesitations to go see the Passion of the Christ, so the episode really resonated on a personal level, plus this is Cartman glory day-era episode where he goes full Adolf. This is a no-brainer. The Passion of the Jew.

JM: Red Sleigh Down didn’t stick with me that much, in truth. But I pretty well hated The Passion of the Christ in concept if nothing else (I still see no reason to ever watch it), so The Passion of the Jew affirmed for me everything I already suspected. Mel Gibson smearing his own crap on a wall is one of my favorite things.

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