So that’s it, huh? Ten episodes of continuity and a preceding part one episode culminated in South Park season 18’s oddly paced finale episode with some decent jokes and a blunted message. Far from an awful episode, but considering all the effort put into continuity and build up that went into it, #HappyHolograms was a bit of a disappointment.
I commented in my South Park review last week that the point of the episode was made in the first 10 minutes, with the rest of the episode feeling stretched for time. Well this second part of the two-parter felt like more of the same. There were some new characters and events added since last week, such as a relevant Bill Cosby appearance, but other than that nothing new was really said and no new commentaries were made.
The idea of something trending and blowing up was getting obnoxious toward the end of the episode, and in the end it never even paid off. Despite two full episodes of shoving references to things trending in every possible second they could, it ultimately only led to Cartman “trendscending” and becoming ultra powerful for a moment towards the end of the episode (I did like the quick joke about how all of this was just his way of finally getting his own bathroom, however). Once that happened, people all over the world began to trend #webelieveinyou to summon PewDiePie to defeat Cartman, and then it was over. Short extensional dialogue from Kyle explaining the purpose of the episode, and the season was over.
The idea of the holograms and the TV executives being evil was never properly paid off at all. It was never explained why they wanted everyone to watch the Holiday Special, or why that made them evil, other than the fact that the head TV executive was an out-of-touch grandpa. But that point could have been made last episode without the need of the whole hologram subplot that went absolutely nowhere other than delivering a few stale Michael Jackson jokes.
It was a nice touch how they managed to bring back every single continuity reference established throughout the season, however. Hint: if you missed the gluten free reference, one of the many Twitter accounts that show in the lower-third had gluten free in its name. Not much, but it still counts in my book.
Everything having to do with the police in this episode and their overt racism was hilariously on-point. It’s the type of comedy that South Park excels at. It took a controversial subject, exaggerated it, but still kept it real enough that it had some bite. “We know the hologram is black, so why can’t we choke it?”
Outside of some timely references to Eric Garner and his death at the hands of an over-zealous cop, the commentary in the episode was mostly toothless. The general point of the satire was that media aimed at older generations, like Christmas Specials crammed with old celebrities, shouldn’t be trying to force younger generations to like their form of entertainment with things like Twitter overlays and other commentary aimed at young adults. As I said last week, it was all about pointing out the fact that older generations being judgmental about younger generation’s idea of fun is pointless and ultimately hypocritical. This point was emphasized by Kyle’s end of episode monologue where he finally caves and just admits that maybe kids liking PewDiePie is not the end of the world.
The “Holiday Special” that aired in the episode did have a couple decent highlights, too. Kurt Kobain waiving around a gun singing a Christmas song and nearly putting the gun in his mouth several times was funny enough, and of course the highlight was Taylor Swift and Bill Cosby singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” If you’ve been following current events, you can probably guess how it went.
#HappyHolograms was far from terrible, and it even had some pretty great jokes, but it was ultimately a pretty bland episode full of weird pacing and ho-hum commentary.
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