After 26 years, 26 seasons, and 325 episodes of television, South Park could be forgiven for wanting to try something new. So that’s exactly what creators, showrunners, and stars Trey Parker and Matt Stone are doing with their crass, yet beloved animated franchise.

When the duo reached a $900 million deal with MTV Entertainment Studios to produce new episodes of South Park through season 30, they also locked themselves in to creating 14 South Park movies for streaming service Paramount+. The first of these near feature-length specials, “South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid” premiered at the end of 2021 and has since been followed by many more.

Of course, South Park has never been afraid of extended running times. Recent seasons have experimented with serialization and the series even received its own theatrically-released film with South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in 1999. But the consistent rate in which fans will now get supersized installments of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny’s adventures is quite unprecedented

To better adjust to this new era of South Park movies and TV specials, we’ve both keep track of and ranked them all here. By our count, a total of seven South Park specials have been released thus far, so be sure to check back after each new premiere.

7. The Pandemic Special

Original Air Date: Sept. 30, 2020
Available to Stream On: Max (U.S.), Paramount+ (U.K.)

“The Pandemic Special” isn’t technically a part of South Park‘s 14-movie deal. In reality, it was more of the inspiration for it after it premiered as part of the show’s 24th season. Perhaps that explains why it’s the least successful one of the batch so far.

As its name suggests, The Pandemic Special is a special about the pandemic, but in reality it’s really just an excuse for Parker and Stone to indulge their inexplicable love of Randy Marsh’s Tegridy Weed Farm once more. There are some genuine laughs to be here, including Randy, uh … making love to a bat and pangolin in Wuhan. But really this just feels like an episode that runs for too long moreso than a “special.”

6. South Park: Joining the Panderverse

Original Air Date: Oct. 27, 2023
Available to Stream On: Paramount+ (U.S. and U.K.)

Near the end of “Joining the Panderverse,” Randy Marsh receives the news as to who is responsible for everything being so topsy turvy. He responds with “This is all Kathleen Kennedy’s fault! Who’s Kathleen Kennedy?” For that brief moment, South Park is self aware of just how terminally online it’s become.

“Joining the Panderverse” is filled with gags that would make sense to only people who closely follow the what Bob Iger’s up to at The Walt Disney Company. And even for those who do follow such things (like you and I probably), those gags still feel quite outdated and stale. At least the animation is really on point here. If the girl Kenny McCormick is out there in the multiverse somewhere I just want to her to know that I love her style and she should respond to my texts.

5. South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid

Original Air Date: Dec. 16, 2021
Available to Stream On: Paramount+ (U.S. and U.K.)

Something that will become clear throughout this list is that the first installments of South Park two-parters tend to be better than the second. “The Return of Covid” continues much of what works from its first half (the novelty of all the kids grown up, Clyde’s stubborn refusal to get vaccinated, the future sucks jokes) but they’re just less novel and interesting this time around.

Granted, the ending of this special is actually thrilling stuff with a tremendous payoff. It’s just not quite worth the journey to get there.

4. The Streaming Wars Part 2

Original Air Date: July 13, 2022
Available to Stream On: Paramount+ (U.S. and U.K.)

Virtually everything that was just said about “The Return of Covid” can be safely applied to this second parter as well. “The Streaming Wars Part 2” is funny and creative – just less so than its first installment.

The sight gags here remain wonderful, from Cartman’s big naturals to Randy’s Karen haircut. The plot, however, starts to lose some steam. In true South Park fashion, The Streaming Wars Part 2 gets so deep into its own allegory that it’s not quite clear what’s being satirized anymore. Oh well, we’ll always have Pig Girl and Chuck Chuck!

3. The Streaming Wars Part 1

Original Air Date: June 1, 2022
Available to Stream On: Paramount+ (U.S. and U.K.)

In contrast with its second half, “The Streaming Wars Part 1” is far more coherent than it has any right to be. The plot of this things juggles the following topics: climate change, water wars, real estate, the intricacies of making money in the streaming television world, and of course: big ol’ boobies.

Somehow, however, it all works! “Part 1” even makes a compelling villain out of the most unassuming South Park background characters: PiPi, the egregiously Italian owner and operator of piss-themed water park Pi-Pi’s Splashdown.

2. South ParQ Vaccination Special

Original Air Date: March 10, 2021
Available to Stream On: Max (U.S.), Paramount+ (U.K.)

What a difference one pandemic makes! Arriving just as the first COVID-19 vaccines started to roll out, “Vaccination Special” is every bit as funny and cathartic as its “Pandemic Special” cousin was tired and cynical.

There are a lot of fun things going on here from Walgreens as senior citizen-exclusive night clubs to Mr. Garrison’s new secret service gimp, Mr. Service. But the best aspect of this special is undoubtedly how it once again centers on the franchise’s four lead characters and the understandable crumbling of their “bro-ship” after a very long and trying ordeal.

1. South Park: Post Covid

Original Air Date: Nov. 25, 2021
Available to Stream On: Paramount+ (U.S. and U.K.)

Look, there are plenty of reasons why “Post Covid” is the best South Park special yet. It’s creative, strange, and subversive. But at the end of the day, there’s only one thing that matters. And that’s that this movie introduces the future Eric Cartman as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi with a loving wife named Yentl. It’s the funniest possible thing that could ever happen in the South Park canon and we’re so lucky we got a chance to experience it.

BONUS: Imaginationland

Original Air Dates: Oct. 17, 2007; Oct. 24, 2007; Oct. 31, 2007
Available to Stream On: Max (U.S.), Paramount+ (U.K.)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that some vintage South Park episodes resemble the format of the eventual movies and specials. First was the two-part “Cartoon Wars” in season 10. But the best multiparter for our money is the three-episode epic “Imaginationland.” These season 11 installments find the boys whisked away to the titular magical place only to find out that it’s been hijacked by literal terrorists. It’s both solid allegory and a well-executed hint at the lengthier South Park stories to come.

The post Every South Park Special Ranked appeared first on Den of Geek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.