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Revisiting South Park’s First Season: ‘Pinkeye’

Wed, August, 30 by

This is part seven in a 13-part series of hand-typed Internet posts concerning the first season of South Park, the show not the town.

Now that the last of the August plums have fallen from high atop their thorny vines, it’s time to turn our attention toward Halloween. And what better way to kick off terror season than by watching South Park’s first ever Halloween-themed episode? Well, I suppose you could visit your local graveyards and bleed all over the place but this is way easier.

Here are previous posts on Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5, Episode 6

“Pinkeye” premiered October 29, 1997, which was also the day Anton LaVey died. You probably remember him as the founder of the Church of Satan. Cool!

Plot Description

Kenny turns into a zombie and starts turning other people into zombies, while the other boys stress about their Halloween costumes and getting enough candy. Everyone thinks the zombies are regular humans who have pinkeye.

Pop Culture References

At the beginning of the episode Kenny is killed by Mir, a Russian space station that was totally oUt Of tHiS wOrLd throughout the entirety of the ’90s. It was known for being a bit of a rust bucket, having experience a couple of accidents during its time beyond the sky, which is probably why it was shown as crashing to Earth and killing Kenny in the show.

The whole zombie thing is a nod to famous zombie things like those Living Dead movies. The episode’s synth-heavy score evokes memories of ’80s slasher flicks a la John Carpenter.

Halloween is a chance for kids to dress up like their favourite actors and ghouls. In this episode Stan portrays Raggedy Andy, husband of Raggedy Ann who was widely known as the Pamela Anderson of dolls, Kyle and every other kid is dressed as Chewbacca, the dog from Star Wars, and Cartman dons a homemade Adolph Hitler costume—if you don’t know who he is you should stop watching South Park and start reading Wikipedia or its analog version, books. Mr. Garrison dresses up like famous person Marilyn Monroe, and Chef is frequent head-injurer Evel Knievel who gets mistaken for southern crooner Elvis Presley. Similarly, the zombie version of Kenny is mistaken for Edward James Almos, star of Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica whose zit scars give him a slightly undead look.

Mr. Garrison teaches a lesson on Jackie Collins, a British author and not the alternative version of the Tom Collins where Gatorade is used instead of lemonade.

There’s a special guest appearance from Family Ties star Tina Yothers who’s in town to judge the costume contest. Yothers is still alive and is somehow only 44 years old.

After Chef is bit by a zombie he and other zombies dance around like in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a music video that was NOT shot in HD.

Best Quote

“Think about it! Dead people getting up and walking around… and Tina Yothers comes to town! Coincidence? Oh, I don’t think so!” – Chef

South Park-isms Introduced

  • I believe this is the first time the concept of Kenny being poor is introduced.
  • Principal Victoria makes her debut and makes a fool of herself by accidently dressing Cartman up like a member of the KKK.
  • Midget Wearing a Bikini delivers his first news report and later returns in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

Facts We Stole From Wikipedia

  • “Parker and Stone were not happy with the episode, particularly the ending, and were surprised by the positive response it received from fans.” I wouldn’t have had the guts to say the ending wasn’t good had they not said it first.
  • “Stone said he felt the episode solidified major characteristics embodied by the Chef character, particularly the fact that he is one of the only adults in South Park who always understands the truth of any given situation and believes the children almost all of the time.” That’s weird; I had a babysitter named “Chef”.

Does It Hold Up?

Besides the reference to Mir, this episode holds up extremely well and could be used in a really lame prank where you convince someone this was from season 20. Unfortunately, Hitler and the KKK are still somehow in the headlines, and the Chewbacca reference still feels fresh because Star Wars is more ubiquitous than ever. Even zombies are at the height of their popularity unless some twisted filmmaker finds yet another way to take those rotted freaks higher than AMC ever could.

Rating

For being spooky, scary and eerily relevant to today, this episode gets October 30 out of October 31.

South Park returns for its 21st season on September 13 on Much!