“YOU BRAIN DEPRIVED FECALPHILIAC!”
June 17, 1998
“As their school bus teeters over the edge of a cliff, the boys recall past memories.”
We all hate “clip shows,” episodes of a show where characters recount the crazy events they went through so the creators can sit back and take a break while still hitting a deadline. But Trey, Matt, and South Park make fun of this trope, giving us a flashback episode where the memories are not exactly accurate.
A lot of plot comes from the bus driver, Ms. Crabtree going off on her own to save the boys, only to be distracted when she’s picked up by a rapey Elvis-lookalike and falling into a standup career. Before leaving, Ms. Crabtree watches an instructional video that shows part of her mean, insane attitudes were taught to her. Because of the universal grumpiness of bus drivers, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were taught to be that way. But hey, I’d be grumpy too if I had to drive kids like Cartman around every day.
Meanwhile, the boys are trapped on a bus that’s about to fall off a cliff while a freakish alien stalks them from the outside. Incidentally, the monster is voiced by Henry Winkler, best known for his role as Fonzie on Happy Days and Gene Cousineau in Bill Hader’s Barry. This goes back to Trey and Matt’s inside joke of getting celebrities to voice minor roles on South Park.
When the boys have flashbacks, they’re noticeably different than the original events, often involving ice cream, pointing to the final reveal that it was all a dream inside a dream; which is yet another lazy TV trope this episode lambasts.
Because their kids have mysteriously disappeared, the boy’s parents sing a dumb song urging their boys to come home, clearly mocking the wealth of “message songs” that were especially popular in the 80s and 90s. Just think of, “We Are the World,” or more recently, “Earth” by Lil Dicky.
The episode of South Park closes on a surprisingly tender, meta note. Ms. Crabtree sits watching the sunset, having found love with Elvis the rapist. Elvis mentions that this can’t last — they’re a figment of Stan’s dream. But Ms. Crabtree says she doesn’t care and she’s happy they have this moment. It’s silly of course, but it’s a surprisingly haunting note to end on, a surreal idea not unlike the ones Black Mirror traffics in. No matter how ridiculous the show can get, Trey and Matt often find a way affect us in innovative ways. Jokes can fade, but moments like this can stick in our minds for much longer.
Become a patron today to get exclusive perks, like access to our exclusive Discord community and our monthly comic book club, ad-free browsing on aiptcomics.com, a physical trade paperback sent to your house every month, and more!