South Park premiere still shocks with humor

The past week saw the premiere of the latest season of . A show never quite afraid to offend the viewer or make him squirm, the season premiere kept up this tradition in tackling current events in a humorous, yet offensive manner.

The topic this time was the numerous, untimely celebrity deaths that had occurred over the past summer, such as Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and Patrick Swayze.

The episode itself is a parody of horror movies such as the Sixth Sense and Poltergeist and involves Ike (Kyle’s brother) seeing the ghosts of the dead celebrities. The main characters attempt to help him through various methods such as using a medium or calling in the reality TV show . Eventually, the boys realize that the only way to save Kyle’s little brother is to help the ghost of Michael Jackson find peace in death.

During the story there is also a side plot involving Cartman’s use of Billy Mays products. One product is designed to heal rectal bleeding leading to several conversations between Cartman and Kyle as to why Cartman doesn’t stop eating the same thing that hurts him.

The episode, for the most part, is nothing atypical for . There’s no shortage of dirty, scatological humor and the jokes involving dead celebrities always teeter on the line between edgy and clever to crude and humorless. The episode never seems to go anywhere with most of the celebrities and tends to focus only on Michael Jackson.

The jokes themselves elicit a few laughs, but never rise beyond that. Many of the jokes tend to be somewhat predictable since the viewer is probably more than familiar with the circumstances of each celebrity death.

The scene with the Ghost Hunters was a high point, showing the ridiculousness of many aspects of that show. Occasionally, the show’s critical commentary was more than direct albeit still true.

The show won’t win too many converts with this episode. Anyone who found himself deeply offended by previous episodes or revolted by the series’ sense of shock humor will find very little to like about this episode.

People that are already fans of the show will probably enjoy the irreverent commentary on celebrities and ’s own unique way of doing a tribute. Despite the bawdy, borderline jokes, still treated the celebrities with much more respect than they normally give, presenting them in a very sympathetic light.

The ending is interesting in that it is written in a way only long time fans will understand. It features a reference to an event that happened several seasons ago, giving the series an added sense of continuity.

In the end, this was a standard episode that only served to bring people back into the series. While it was nice to see the show continue to maintain pop cultural relevance, the jokes on this show were run of the mill and the edginess felt forced. Here’s hoping the rest of the episodes get back what this episode lacked.