ESC

‘South Park’s’ ‘The Scoots’ is a Fun but Forgettable Halloween Outing

South Park has a history of turning out really memorable Halloween episodes going all the way back to the first season’s zombie parody Pinkeye. In fact, it was season two’s Halloween episode Spookyfish and its “Spooky Vision” gag of putting Barbara Streisand’s face in the corners of the screen that inspired me to grow up and get a job being mean to celebrities.

Another thing South Park does really well is broad parodies of movie genres. Episodes like Asspen and especially The Losing Edge are among the best in the series. Last night’s The Scoots being a Halloween episode that parodies horror film clichés seems like it should be a slam dunk, and while the episode is good, it’s not great or particularly memorable.

This is no small part because the episode is a Kenny episode. Kenny was a great character when the show started, but 20+ years later, the gag of him mumbling unintelligibly has worn as thin as the gag of killing him off every episode. This isn’t even the first time they’ve had Kenny mumble his way through an episode he was supposed to be the emotional core of.

The basic plot is that e-scooters have shown up all over town, and while Mr. Mackey tries to get rid of them or at least find out where they came from, Stan, Kyle and Cartman decide to use them to help them trick or treat faster. This leaves Kenny the odd man out, because he doesn’t have a phone to activate the suddenly ubiquitous scooters and the boys think he’ll slow them down. Kenny asks a few more groups of kids if he can trick or treat with them, but every kid in the school had the idea to use e-scooters to get from house or house faster, so Kenny is on his own.

The horror clichés are pretty well used, and the scooters appearing everywhere Mackey looks like he’s Tippi Hedren in The Birds is one of the better gags. Randy is still playing the farmer with the Southern accent from last week, and there’s the requisite scene with Butters’ parents trying to seek refuge at the farm from the horde of trick or treaters on e-scooters and dressed as Fortnite skins. Every kid being dressed as their favorite Fortnite skin is another clever gag, as Fortnite was one this year’s top costumes so you might have seen the episode after having a parade of 10-year-olds explain to you what that’s where their costume was from and making you feel a million years old.

In the end, Kenny and Mackey team up and tear down the nearest cell phone tower, causing the scooters to stop working so the kids are forced to trick or treat on foot in what Kenny, via voiceover, calls the last good Halloween he ever had.

Building an episode around Kenny and his emotional journey just doesn’t work, though. I get that it’s a joke, but it’s not that good of a joke and it’s one that’s been done a number of times before. A few of Kenny’s episodes have taken advantage of his Mysterion alter ego’s ability to talk, and I think the show would be better if they redesigned Kenny and just let him talk all the time. As it is, he gets a focus episode every few seasons that’s mainly just the joke of him mumbling in his hood and the rest of the time he’s pushed to the background in favor of Butters as the fourth kid.

Aside from the Kenny problem, it’s a solid Halloween episode. The problem is that so many Halloween episodes have been great and memorable, so turning a B-/C+ outing is a bit disappointing despite the episode being entertaining.

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