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This is part four in a thirteen part series of hand-typed Internet posts concerning the first season of South Park—the show, not the town.
Now that we’re on Episode 4, I’ve settled into a nice groove in creating these unique and informative blogs, so much so that I can freely chew a piece of gum or stroke the shell of the office tortoise without getting distracted. But along with this comfort comes the anxiety that after completing number thirteen, the journey will end thus returning me to my regular, boring life spent revisiting episodes of Cheers.
“Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride” premiered September 3, 1997.
Stan gets a new dog named Sparky but things get crazy when he and the boys find out the dog is gay. There’s also a big football game against Middle Park, and unless Stan plays quarterback there’s no way they’ll cover the spread, leaving Jimbo, Ned and the rest of the town in the poor house.
Cartman’s presentation on Asian culture concludes with, “And so you see, Simon and Simon were not brothers in real life, only on television,” an accurate fact regarding an old TV show that is way older now that it was in 1997.
Actor and notorious Beach Boys fan John Stamos is referenced when his fictional older brother is in town to sing Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin You’” during the football halftime show. Speaking of football, one of the commentators at the game likens some of the on field action to moments in popular culture including the Cows taking a beating like Rodney King and Pip taking a blow like Hugh Grant.
Big Gay Al’s boat tour is a parody of the rather preachy “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland or world or whatever. The sequence includes an appearance from figure skater Brian Boitano, a major player in South Park: Longer, Bigger & Uncut, who inspired the famous “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” song.
Popular South Park target Barbara Streisand is referenced by Bill when he suggests Sparky should attend one of her concerts because he’s gay, while another famous howler, Rin Tin Tin, is referenced as the kind of dog Stan really wants.
The Simon & Simon quote is excellent but since I’ve already mentioned it I’ll go with this one about dog ass:
“Huh… He’s doing something to his ass. He’s not kicking his ass, but he’s definitely doing something to his ass.” – Cartman
In 1997 this episode was considered both risky and groundbreaking for even broaching the subject of homosexuality. Thankfully, we now live in a world where gay dogs and people can be portrayed on TV without batting an eye, so I’m actually happy to report that this episode doesn’t really hold up. There are some weird, jarring moments like when Cartman bluntly proclaims that “Stan’s dog’s a homo.” The Cartman of today is still an asshole but he probably would’ve been more creative in his description.
I give this episode a 69-out-of-72 point spread because even though it feels weird now, it was nominated for an Emmy and laid the groundwork for future episodes where touchy or taboo subjects were handled deftly by the team.
South Park returns for its 21st season on September 13 on Much!