This episode felt like early seasons South Park, and I mean that in an entirely complimentary manner. However, did I love this episode? In a word, no.
The episode as a whole ranks somewhere between mediocre and good, keeping in mind that “mediocre” for South Park is excellent for most other comedies. “Royal Pudding” certainly won’t go on any Top Episodes list, but the episode was a light, funny piece that both showed theSouth Park characters in their natural setting and also created an adventure satirizing a recent international event.
The episode satirized the international obsession with England’s royal wedding. However, there were elements of whimsy throughout, particularly with the menace of Tooth Decay. While the A-plot took us to a fictionalized (obviously) Canada replete with giants and monsters, the B-plot centered on a kindergarten play about dental hygiene.
I was fairly vocal regarding my dislike of this season’s opening episode. That episode did discuss some topical pop culture issues, but it was mostly an excuse to throw in a lot of scat and incest jokes. I’m aware that many of you disagree, but that’s the best part of South Park. Every episode is vastly different from the last one. There are many South Park‘s, if you will. We can each have our own favorite.
My favorite South Park is smart and topical, exposing some uncomfortable truths about society or current events. My favorite South Park acknowledges that the characters are eight-year-old boys in a small Colorado town. There is minimal toilet humor, though some is of course inevitable (this is South Park we’re talking about, not Masterpiece Theatre.) I find that the crass teenage-boy humor can sometimes overwhelm the searing satirical points Trey Parker and Matt Stone attempt to make. Though, the use of low-level humor is often important in grounding the show as a piece of comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
And now, getting off my soapbox…
The A-plot and B-plot of this episode seem entirely disconnected until the third act, with a humorous reveal.
For the B, we open at rehearsal for Mr. Mackey’s dental hygiene play. (Are any of Mackey’s frustrations a reflection of the learning process involved in Parker and Stone’s first Broadway musical?) A crew of kindergarteners adorably speak lines regarding the importance of brushing one’s teeth and the spectre of Tooth Decay. However, the child playing Tooth Decay doesn’t show for rehearsal because–
A-plot: Ike sits at home, watching the Canadian royal wedding. The hubub mirrors the international obsession with Will and Kate’s wedding. Similarly, a bland announcer alerts the audience to celebrity appearances and explains Canadian “traditions.” One of these traditions involves a giant vat of pudding. If the actual royal wedding had included that, I might have actually watched.
Before the traditional wedding can be completed, the princess is captured by an unknown force. Canada is thrown into chaos. Ike returns to rehearsal, but can’t stop crying. Then, instructed by the Prime Minister via television, Ike opens his “Box of Faith,” which all people of Canadian descent have in South Park land.
Ike bravely sets off to save the princess. Along the way, he meets Ugly Bob, who is so hideous he had to leave Canada. (Here in America, people just think he looks Canadian.) Eventually, Ike teams up with Bob and Scott, the “giant dick.” (Scott was just a regular dick-ish guy before, but after radiation, he’s now giant-sized.)
The trio eventually make their way to a castle where the princess is being held. Which is when they finally figure out that the monster behind this kidnapping was–
B-plot: Tooth Decay. Mr. Mackey rails against the students so much because he wants the play’s message to shine through. He wants everyone to know the dangers of tooth decay. Tooth decay…killed his father.
Anyway, Kyle fills in for Ike for no reason other than we probably needed at least a few shots including one of the core four. Before the play finishes, police arrive and inform Mackey that Tooth Decay has been killed. Does this scene, and Mackey’s relief, mirror the situation surrounding the Osama bin Laden raid and the man’s eventual death? Maybe a little, but it’s a funny moment that doesn’t need topicality for the audience to see the humor in Mackey’s outsized response.
The episode ends with Ike being knighted for killing Tooth Decay (by exposing the monster to Bob’s ugly visage). Kyle is proud of his brother, until his friends belittle Ike’s accomplishment. The Canadian royal couple completes the traditional ceremony, with a disgusting joke that rounds out the episode.
Because it’s South Park after all, and all’s well that ends…with a torn-off limb in a royal orifice.