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Revisiting South Park’s First Season: ‘Starvin’ Marvin’


Thu, August, 31 by

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

I remember seeing this episode for the first time and thinking Starvin’ Marvin’s Ethiopian dialect was the funniest thing I’d ever seen/heard. I did not laugh as hard this time around, which either means I’m more culturally sensitive, or I’ve simply reached full adulthood wherein my sense of humour has been replaced with a sense of responsibility. It’s sad, but as long as I keep finding candy sweet and Christmas magical I promise I won’t throw myself off a bridge!

Here are previous posts on Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6, Episode 7

“Starvin’ Marvin” premiered November 19, 1997, the same day the space shuttle Columbia shot into orbit for another mission that the general public didn’t care about at all because it had nothing to do with lasers or aliens.

Plot Description

It’s Thanksgiving in South Park and the main boys attempt to sponsor an Ethiopian child in order to obtain a sweet sports watch. Instead of the watch they get the boy who is the Starvin’ Marvin of the episode title. Meanwhile, Dr. Mephesto’s genetic engineering of the common turkey goes awry causing a flock of killer fowl to attack the town.

Pop Culture References

The episode spoofs those African sponsorship ads that used to be on TV all the time, and still are. The spokesperson is Sally Struthers who played the daughter of a bigot on the hilarious All in the Family. She actually was the spokesperson for similar charities, which Trey Parker and Matt Stone must have found funny because she was somewhat overweight indicating she enjoyed a wealth of food unlike the people she was trying to support. Kyle mistakenly believes she used to be on Full House, which could mean he mistook her for either Candace Cameron or Dave Coulier.

Mr. Garrison incorrectly teaches his class that Engelbert Humperdinck was first person on the moon. Humperdinck is known for having one of the best names in showbiz history and also for singing some songs or something.

Mephesto shows Chef a slide under a microscope that Chef astutely identifies as an extreme close up of Vanessa Redgrave’s private parts. Redgrave is an actress who is pretty old.

After Chef rallies South Park residents to take up arms against the turkeys, they amass in a Braveheart style battle formation led by Chef who is dressed like William Wallace.

When the boys learn their lesson at the end of the episode Kyle deduces that MacGyver is a real person. He is not a real person but a character from a show about a guy who makes weapons out of things that aren’t even weapons.

Best Quote


South Park-isms Introduced

Now that we’re on episode 8 there’s not as much meat on this bone, not unlike the body of Starvin’ Marvin himself.

  • Starvin Marvin’ is debuted. He later returns in season 3’s “Starvin’ Marvin in Space”.
  • This marks the first appearance of Kenny’s parents and rarely seen brother Kevin.
  • We get a brief glance of Gerald Broflovski at the buffet table which officially marks his entrance into the universe.

Facts We Stole From Wikipedia

  • “Jerry Seinfeld, comedian and star of the popular sitcom Seinfeld, contacted Parker and Stone and asked if he could record a guest voice performance because he was a fan of the show. Parker and Stone offered Seinfeld the throwaway background part of one of the turkeys, but Seinfeld was “a bit put off” by the offer and did not accept.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that! (a Seinfeld quote)
  • “Parker and Stone originally planned for Struthers to die at the end of the episode and have the African children eat her and live off her fat.” It’s not gross because it’s not real.
  • Stone said of the subplot, “The turkeys were just an excuse to have the Braveheart

Does It Hold Up?

This one’s a touch outdated due to the Braveheart thing, which got parodied to death well into the 2000s. Same goes for Sally Struthers who most of today’s teens would guess is some sort of porno actress or horse disease.

“What’s wrong with Brown Arthur, he’s not eating his hay?”
“He might have the sally struthers.”


This episode will receive three dollars out of a possible five dollars a month. Its characters were good, its B plot and references not as good.

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