South Park season 1 episode 12 review

We're nearing the end of South Park season one, as the gang meet up with Barbra Streisand...

12. Mecha-Streisand

Certainly my favourite episode of the first season, and one of my favourite South Park episodes ever, this story sees Barbra Streisand arrive in South Park on the hunt for an ancient magical triangle she believes capable of giving her unlimited power, enough to take over the world!

A host of famous faces turn up in an attempt to thwart her plans, including Robert Smith of The Cure, but it’s our four foul-mouthed heroes who prove the biggest challenge for Ms Streisand to overcome, not least because Cartman has concealed the triangle in one of his shoes (“When was the last time you changed your socks?” – “Oh and I suppose yours smell like the botanical gardens.”).

Things kick off with the school at an archaeological dig, where Kyle discovers a strange triangle he believes to be worthless, and so discards it. Cartman picks it up, wherein it is identified as the triangle of Zinthar, a powerful talisman. Having heard of the little boy in South Park with the triangle on the news, Barbara Streisand touches down via helicopter to retrieve the precious object and begin her wicked plan.

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What makes this episode so utterly brilliant to watch is the complete lack of mercy the writers show in ripping the hell out of Barbara Streisand, a celebrity who transforms before our eyes, literally, into a Godzilla-like monster hell bent on world domination.

Even before the story reaches its gloriously destructive zenith, however, Streisand is already crudely drawn as a lank-haired, bulbous-nosed, ugly tramp. The loathing harboured for this woman is so palatable it almost spills out of the screen like acid. There are several mentions, both from the kids and townsfolk, of Streisand being a “total bitch”. The voice work is also of high merit, delivered in a hilariously skewered, over the top Brooklyn accent (“I’m a very impoitant, noice poyson.”).

It should be explained that the episode is essentially a parody of the old Godzilla movies, and as such we get a little Japanese man in the corner singing “Baaaarberaaa, Barberaaaa!” whenever Streisand (or Mecha-Streisand, as she becomes in her giant robot lizard state) sets about ripping up the town, blowing things up and crushing buildings.

Sidney Poitier shows up and transforms into a rather useless giant turtle man, to which the singer begins his quavering soundtrack of “Mega Poitierrrrr, Mega Poitieerrrr,” before Streisand sends him hurtling over the hills, and it’s down to Robert Smith to become Mothra and save the day (“No more Barbra Streisand ever!” the kids shout, as she explodes in space).

Being familiar with these legendary Japanese beasts might help foster a greater appreciation of the parody, but you really don’t need to have seen those films in order to enjoy this episode for what it is: a big, loud, brash action blockbuster of a cartoon half-hour.

Without a doubt then, one of the very best, and to my mind, Parker and Stone haven’t portrayed a celebrity as hilariously as they have Barbara, before or since.

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Favourite bit: Streisand torturing the kids by singing.

Read our review of episode 11 here.