Hell on Earth 2006
|"Hell on Earth 2006"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 10
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||October 25, 2006|
The episode revolves around Satan, having a huge party in Los Angeles—in the style of parties featured on the MTV series My Super Sweet 16. Meanwhile, Butters Stotch accidentally summons The Notorious B.I.G. (always referred to in the episode as "Biggie Smalls"), who demands to help him go back to Los Angeles, where the party is held.
The episode gained various positive responses from critics; however, it also sparked controversy shortly after its initial airing due to the Steve Irwin joke it contained, and was criticized by Irwin's family.
Satan decides that since Halloween is essentially his holiday, he is going to have a huge party in Los Angeles—as big as a sweet 16 party. He proclaims to the spirits of the damned that anyone who wants to get in must get a blue wristband and wear a costume. However, Satan also invites many celebrities, overcrowding the guest list. Satan also decides to have a "really huge surprise as dessert"; he decides upon a cake the size and shape of a Ferrari Enzo, which three notorious serial killers—Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy—are entrusted with bringing to the party in time for midnight. Cardinal Roger Mahony and other Roman Catholic Church officials of Los Angeles, angered that Satan does not invite them to the party, plan to call the fire marshal the night of the party to complain, thus ruining it. When they are unable to do so after discovering that the fire marshal was also invited to the party, the clergy decide to crash it. However, Satan's security make sure they do not get in at all, as they are wearing wristbands from Knott's Berry Farm.
Meanwhile, in South Park, Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Token, Tweek and Butters experiment with a Bloody Mary-type ritual to summon Biggie Smalls. Butters succeeds in summoning him; however, Biggie already has his blue wristband and, since he is on Earth and cannot use the inter-dimensional vortex opened from Hell to get to the party, demands that Butters help him get there. However, Biggie keeps being summoned back to South Park mid-journey, first by Kyle and then Randy Marsh, further angering him.
In scenes mimicking The Three Stooges, the three serial killers ineptly destroy the cake and fail to make a new one. Satan's assistant Demonius finds a cake the exact size and shape of an Acura TSX as a last-minute substitute. However, Satan is infuriated that he did not receive the right cake. When Demonius points out that his guests are having fun regardless, Satan flies into a rage, screaming that the party is "not about them, it's all about ME!" The guests get upset and start to leave, and Satan realizes that, in trying to have a party like the girls on My Super Sweet 16, he became like one of them (even when his minions insist he is not nearly as bad as they are). He tells the crowd that he is sorry and that his party is for all of the people who make his life so special. Satan invites everyone into the party, including the Catholic priests. Having arrived in Los Angeles, Butters uses a make-up mirror to summon Biggie Smalls straight to the party, who asks Butters to come in with him as thanks. Butters quickly agrees, seeing as "I'm gonna get grounded anyway, I might as well."
The episode received fairly high review ratings. IGN's Dan Iverson originally criticized the episode for the lack of storyline development, but later stated that "the storylines were humorous enough that we were able to put aside that there was no real social commentary (like the last three episodes), but instead madcap comedy that was funny based on silly humor alone". Iverson has also praised the episode for illustrating Satan as a spoiled child and for the Three Stooges scenes involving the killers, and concluded that "although 'Hell on Earth 2006' isn't as good as a couple of South Park's other Halloween episodes, it is still a very funny episode." Adam Finley of TV Squad stated that although he thought "Hell on Earth 2006" was a "great episode" it was "most guaranteed to offend somebody". Judge Keefer of DVD Verdict described the episode as "a really great installment with a wincing (yet guilty pleasure) joke", and graded the episode with an A.
Steve Irwin controversy
One of the guests appearing at Satan's party is Steve Irwin, who has a stingray protruding from his chest. Satan, upon being informed that said guest is offending some of the others, goes to confront him, but does not realize that it is Irwin at first, thinking instead that it is someone else in a costume, and tells him that it is in bad taste to wear such a costume so soon after Irwin's death. Finding out it actually is Irwin, Satan kicks him out of the party for not wearing a costume. The scene sparked controversy among the media as a parody of Irwin's death just weeks after the press surrounding it. The controversy was mainly because of the airing of the episode so close to Irwin's death, since an earlier parody of Irwin in a 1999 South Park episode entitled "Prehistoric Ice Man", did not spark controversy. A friend of Terri Irwin, Steve Irwin's widow, has issued a statement about the episode:
"Terri is devastated Steve is being mocked in such a cruel way. Her worry is that Bindi and Bob will see it and break down. Steve had as big a sense of humour as anyone, but this goes too far too soon."
Besides Irwin's family, the episode also received criticism from press personalities; John Beyer, the director of mediawatch-uk, said that it was in bad taste to create such a scene and the makers of South Park should review their decision to show it. Irwin's fellow naturalist Mark Amey called the show "distasteful shit."
In a response to the controversy around the episode, Tony Fox, a spokesperson for Comedy Central, defended the episode, saying "The South Park guys do inappropriate things all the time...their goal is to make people laugh, not to offend people." Additionally, another spokesperson for the network has said that "South Park has offended people in the past and probably will again. Regular watchers would not be shocked." Although rumors were spread about the episode not being broadcast in Australia due to the controversy, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced the episode would be broadcast on SBS, but would be delayed 12 months due to programming issues. Film magazine Empire also stated in the "things on our mind this month" in their December 2006 issue that it was "Too Much", as well as saying "kill Kenny again, he likes it!"
In the DVD commentary for the episode, Trey Parker and Matt Stone said that they were surprised because among all the offensive jokes South Park has ever done, Steve Irwin sparked a controversy, and the whole joke was about it being too soon.
- Iverson, Dan (2006-10-05). "South Park: "Hell on Earth 2006" review". IGN. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
- Finley, Adam (2006-10-25). "South Park: Hell on Earth 2006". TV Squad. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Keefer, Judge (2007-07-21). "South Park: The Complete Tenth Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2006-08-25). "Hell on Earth 2006". South Park. Season 10. Episode 11. Comedy Central.
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- Collins, Glen (2006-09-04). "Stingray Attack Kills Australia's 'Crocodile Hunter'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
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- Kent, Paul; Gee, Steve (2006-10-28). "To hell with Irwin, says South Park". The Herald Sun. Retrieved 2009-01-09.