South Park is pretty good about choosing subjects for satire, and although the mid-season summer break hurts the timeliness of this particular episode, I’m really glad Matt Stone and Trey Parker decided to use Inception as their latest subject. Personally, I agree with 99% of the world that Inception was incredibly awesome, but it was too big of a phenomenon to ignore and I was really looking forward to what the writers could come up with
Unfortunately, this episode comes up short. Ever since Episode 200 & 201, it seems like the writers have lost a little bit of their steam. That’s not to say that the second half of season 14 hasn’t been funny, but the jokes don’t sting as much as they did a year ago. It’s hard to come up with jokes about something as successful as Inception, but the effort here feels a little underdeveloped, especially considering the controversy with CollegeHumor. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything good to be found here; even when South Park is not at its finest it’s still better than half of what’s on TV, but I’m really hoping Stone and Parker revert back to the clever satirical jabs I’m used to sometime soon.
The episode starts off parodying the Hoarders series, with Stan and Mr. Mackey having a hoarding problem that can only be solved by having their dreams infiltrated. Seeing Mr. Mackey as a kid was funny, but it wasn’t as funny as I was hoping for. The presence of a random sheep herder was a funny joke at first, but after awhile I had to question why he was still being used in the episode at all (until he was brutally killed for humorous effect).
Yes, Randy Marsh as a frisky butterfly was pretty entertaining. And yes, the random inclusion of Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was hilarious. But the jokes got kind of stale after while. Poking fun at the Inception characters constantly shooting and explaining things away was amusing, the dream infiltrator mimicking the Inception soundtrack definitely had me laughing, and the inclusion of the prolonged horn sounds that anyone who has seen Inception will immediately recognize was great, but the jokes didn’t feel very inventive. This episode felt kind of rushed and underdeveloped, and the situation with CollegeHumor only reinforces this notion further.
Poking fun at the summer’s biggest hit is a no-brainer, but the satire is limited this time around. Sharon Marsh’s comment, “Just because an idea is overly convoluted and complex doesn’t make it cool!” is about as edgy as it gets this time around. So instead of asking “Why?” maybe I should be asking, “Why not?”
This episode is still worth watching, and it definitely has its moments, including some hilarious one-liners from Cartman, a cameo from Freddy Krueger and a disturbing yet equally hilarious scene with Mr. Mackey and a giant owl. But for the most part, it seems uninspired compared to what these guys are capable of.