South Park’s Best Christmas Story Stolen From Its Most Hated Episode | Pretty Reel

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While Woodland Critter Christmas is one of South Park’s funniest festive outings, the Christmas special stole a joke from its most hated episode.

One of South Park’s biggest Christmas specials stole a joke from one of the show’s most hated outings. South Park tends to get in trouble when the show gets too ambitious. The curse of a satirical series that pokes fun at people who care is that when an episode requires a lot of effort and care, it’s often met with derision by the South Park fan base. Take, for example, South Park season 4, episode 14, “Pip.” An ambitious retelling of the classic Charles Dickens bildungsroman Great Expectations, “Pip” is devoted to the backstory of the titular annoying English brat glimpsed in previous episodes.

Devoting an entire episode to Pip might seem like a bad idea, especially when South Park making Randy a main character caused some storytelling issues and the supporting star was already a bigger part of the show than Pip. However, the largely negative reception of “Pip” is still notable, considering the amount of work that went into the episode. South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker admitted they spent a lot of time, money and effort to get ‘Pip’ to happen, only to have the fan base almost reject it universally. As a result, the episode remains one of South Park’s lowest rated online releases and frequently appears in the series’ worst episode summaries.

South Park’s Woodland Critter Christmas Explained

However, although “Pip” is mostly considered a misguided failure by South Park viewers, the episode inspired the funniest gag in a later beloved Christmas special. While South Park’s best Christmas special in years revived the show’s social commentary with insightful satire from Jeff Bezos and Amazon, the show’s best holiday special before this outing embraced the opposite approach. South Park season 8, episode 14, “Woodland Critter Christmas,” was a rare episode in the series that has nothing to do with contemporary events. Instead, “Woodland Critter Christmas” is a parody of Disney movies that gets progressively darker until its ridiculous punchline reveals a twisted ending.

“Woodland Critter Christmas” sees Stan help a group of adorable endangered animals decorate their Christmas tree. Stan soon saves the creatures from a mountain lion and helps them ward off further dangers as the animals tell him that one of them is pregnant with their savior. Of course, South Park’s greatest curse is the show’s jitters, so no longtime viewer will be surprised to learn that the animals are secretly Satanists and their savior is the Antichrist. Stan finds himself forced to continue helping these murderous monsters by an insistent narrator and, after the episode reveals why “Woodland Critter Christmas” steals its last punchline straight from South Park’s much hated “Pip.”

How South Park stole its own joke

At the end of “Pip”, Malcolm McDowell’s narration announces that all of the characters have lived happily ever after “except for Pocket, who died of hepatitis B”. It’s a bracing and brutal joke, which comes up big in “Woodland Critter Christmas,” when Cartman is revealed to be the episode’s narrator. In the series’ darkest Christmas special since South Park’s earliest origins, “The Spirit of Christmas,” Cartman announces that the characters of “Woodland Critter Christmas” have all lived happily ever after by the end of the story, ” except for Kyle, who died of AIDS. ”

Why South Park’s Pip is so hated

While the two gags are essentially the same joke, “Woodland Critter Christmas” received a much warmer reception from fans than “Pip.” Ironically, “Woodland Critter Christmas” was an episode that Stone and Parker say was hastily written and written when the couple ran out of ideas, while “Pip” was an ambitious outing they dedicated a lot of efforts. This disparity might explain why “Pip” is so hated, as the episode tries to do too much for a single twenty-minute outing. South Park is a silly show that pokes fun at everyone and everything, so attempting to faithfully recreate a Victorian romance in 20 minutes might have been too ambitious for the show’s mandate.

Why Woodland Critter Christmas’ Final Gag Worked

While The Simpsons’ best Christmas episodes lean into the show’s softer side, South Park’s strongest festive offerings focus on the nastier elements of what makes the show work. The Christmas specials are expected to be sweet, so the creators of South Park understandably go out of their way to overturn this safe and secure TV convention. Casting Cartman as the narrator of “Woodland Critter Christmas” makes Kyle’s surprise death a brutal, yet contextually appropriate gag that turns Cartman’s hatred of his classmate into a hilariously unnecessary death. On the other hand, the ending of “Pip” didn’t work as well because, like the rest of the hated episode of South Park, the gag didn’t play with the show’s main characters.

South Park’s Best Christmas Story Stolen From Its Most Hated Episode | Pretty Reel