2. Weight Gain 4000
I started my exploration of series one of South Park by talking a little bit about the ideas behind the show, and how far more intelligent and socially-savvy ideas are at work than meets the eye, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s a load of rubbish when you see the first episode is called Cartman Gets An Anal Probe!
Perhaps a little more money got injected into the project for the second episode, as the animation does not seem to be as crude this time around. It also has a much less immature-sounding title: Weight Gain 4000.
Everyone is excited in South Park when Cartman wins an essay contest, and it becomes known he will receive an award presented by Kathie Lee Gifford. Now, this is where a little American cultural knowledge can be handy, because I had no idea who Kathie Lee was, and still don’t; but the internet tells me she is an all-singing popular TV hostess, or at least she was.
Either way, Trey and Matt seem to have a problem with her, which shows up clearly in this episode. A flashback reveals that Mr Garrison (the slightly camp, slightly wicked school teacher) lost a talent contest thanks to Kathie Lee when he was a child, and is now on a murderous rampage for revenge. He purchases a rifle and, thanks to a tip-off from the hapless officer Barbrady, finds himself a good spot in the window of a book depository from which to assassinate Kathie Lee.
Meanwhile, in order to look good when he picks up his award, Cartman starts taking a supplement that is essentially pure fat, and becomes morbidly obese. There’s a great parody in this episode in the television advert for the Weight Gain 4000 that perfectly highlights our looks-obsessed, testosterone-fuelled society that thrives on a quick-fix mentality. “Say it with me: beefcake! Beefcake! BEEFCAKE!” shouts the muscle-bound jock in the advert.
In the end, Mr Garrison fails in his attempt to kill Kathie Lee and ends up in the asylum, Wendy the school babe and object of Stan’s desires discovers that Cartman cheated with his essay, and Kenny is killed for a second time (this time shot, flipped in the air and impaled on a flagpole, no less).
This is an episode that I do remember watching the first time it was on TV. I found it great then and I find it great now.
Favourite bit: “Come on, you little bitch,” as voiced by Mr Garrison as he stares down his rifle sight at Kathie Lee.
Read our review of the first episode here.