(SPOILERS AHEAD, so proceed with caution, South Park fans!)
Season 17, Episode Five: “Taming Strange”
Written & Directed by: Trey Parker
This season of South Park has been an absolute roller-coaster. After last week’s disappointing goth-centric episode, the show rebounds with the hilarious “Taming Strange,” which falls just short of the near-classic “World War Zimmerman” as the season’s best episode yet.
With its many satirical targets (Obamacare and the general health care debate, Miley Cyrus, Yo Gabba Gabba!), the episode had a legitimate drive that accompanies the series’ best episodes. And, most importantly, the laughs were absolutely massive.
“Students, I would like to introduce you to the future,” says Mr. Mackey, who introduces to the South Park class the school’s new communication portal, IntelliLink. (If you want to visit the nurse, for example, you have to schedule an appointment, and there’s a good chance you’ll accidentally trigger the school sound system to blast Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.”)
One feature of the IntelliLink system is an interactive message board, on which Kyle’s younger brother, Ike (He’s back!) draws a picture of Kyle with a penis dangling off his head, accompanied by the phrase “My brother is a homo.” Mackey, in his classic obliviousness, interprets the schlong as a “nice whooping crane.”
Naturally, Kyle is upset that Ike hates him, but Sheila tries to comfort him and tell him it’s natural — after all, baby Ike is currently going through puberty. (Wait, what?) “Get out of my room, Kyle!,” Ike shrieks. “I’m on the computer!” In an attempt to reunite with his baby brother (You know, the one he used to frequently punt like a football), Kyle reigns Ike downstairs to watch Yo Gabba Gabba!, but all hormonal Ike wants to do is have sex with the characters (aka “tame some strange”) and chew tobacco.
Frustrated, Kyle goes to see Mackey, who (due to the nightmarish scheduling conflicts on IntelliLink) is forced to meet while taking a dump. (Now that’s multi-tasking.) After advising Kyle that “Canadian puberty” is probably different from the American form, Kyle shows Ike the video “A Guide to Puberty in Canada,” which advises youngsters about their changing bodies (All the usual stuff: You know, like “When you fart, your dick gets hard” or experiencing “a tingling sensation in your strange”).
This leads us to the episode’s most pointless (but still pretty hilarious) sub-plot: The film’s host, the Canadian Minister of Health, is clearly confused about female anatomy, thinking that women are impregnated about a man farts on a woman’s face and, subsequently, the woman queefs on the man’s face. When he realizes that’s not actually how sex works, he has a personal crisis: “Well then why did my wife queef on my face?” (Etc. Not much really happens with the queefing C-story, but I admit: It’s hard not to giggle at the mere usage of the word “queef” on television.)
Due to IntelliLink’s backward system, Kyle isn’t able to get out of school legitimately and take Ike to see Yo Gabba Gabba! live. Needless to say, angsty, pimply Ike isn’t pleased: He rips off his shirt and tells his brother to kick him — like in the good old days. Nonetheless, Kyle and Ike make their way to the concert, where the creatures sing that old standard “Don’t Bite People.” But during a show-and-tell portion of the show, Ike runs on-stage to display his “special talent:” taming the strange of pink beast Fufa. Disillusioned by the show’s squeaky clean image after this sexual awakening, Fufa decides to quit the team and explore an edgier persona — eventually performing a risque act on the VMAs (in a parody of the Miley Cyrus debacle) and even receiving an angry critique from Sinead O’Connor (parodying the real-life “open letter” debacle, which — thank god — now seems to be over).
Meanwhile, Mackey is bankrupting the school with the IntelliLink system, so he hires new recruit Pat Connors to oversee the system — and then immediately fires her for not being in control. Therefore, he says the school board needs to “clean up Pat’s mess” by upgrading the system. (Of course, this scene seems to reference the recent government shutdown and the general government blame-game. Stubborn Mackey won’t admit that his system is flawed, while the equally stubborn school board won’t even give into the idea of progress.)
Meanwhile, the Canadian Minister of Health starts calling everyone to make sure they’re satisfied with their health care. Kyle realizes that, due to an IntelliLink blunder, Ike has accidentally been taking Tom Brady’s hormone treatments (Cut to an incredible scene of Tom Brady repeatedly shitting his pants on the football field) instead of constipation meds. (This is, surprisingly, a solid plot twist in an episode that seemed doomed for a goofy anti-climax — like the plant-reality show treatment from last week.)
Ike, now taking the proper medication, seems to be back to his old self — until he notes his affection for Dora the Explorer’s “hot Puerto Rican strange.”
I laughed a whole lot tonight, and at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters. When this show is operating at this level of mindless hilarity, it’s in a league of its own. Ain’t nothin’ strange about that.
Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…
“Look at the fuckin’ zits on my face!” — Ike
It’s great to see an episode with Mackey featured so heavily.
“What is your brother’s Intelligrated Smart Name?” — Mr. Mackey to Kyle
My biggest laughs of the night might have come with the music selections: Hearing “All Night Long” blasted over the school’s PA had me cackling every time.
“You’re watching E! Entertainment News — god knows why….”
I love how all the Canadians continue to have random speech impediments…
what is the name of the the other song used by the intelllink system it sounds like an eighties classic. (not all night long)
I think you’re probably talking about Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On”:
Dora is Mexican, not Puerto Rican.
What show is the intro theme to the canadian board of healht video parodying??? I totally recognize it but I can’t remember the name!
Love all the Canadian characters. Wonder what our northern neighbors think of them?