Quest for Ratings
The boys take an Audio/Visual class in school and create Super School News, a show that airs on South Park Elementary's closed circuit TV. Their team of anchors and reporters consists of Cartman ("Rick Cartman"), Jimmy, Kyle, Butters, Token, and Stan. But it doesn't go so well -- only 4 kids tune in and they are told by their A/V teacher (Mr. Meryl) that their show will be cancelled due to low ratings. To make matters worse, they're getting crushed by Craig's show, Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens. As the name implies, it consists of nothing but very tight shots of cute animals. In an effort to keep their show on the air, the boys brainstorm bold new ways to juice up their show. They change the show's name to Sexy Action School News; make up stories instead of reporting real ones; show more scantily clad girls; and introduce a Panda Bear Madness Minute, during which the boys dance with people dressed as pandas. The show's ratings improve, allowing it to eek out a win over Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens. But unfortunately, it gets pummeled by Craig's new show, Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens Wearing Hats. With cancellation looming, Cartman and company try to come up with an entirely new, even more sensationalist concept during yet another idea session. Jimmy urges the boys to reconsider their approach and focus more on journalistic intergrity. No one listens, and even worse, no one can think of any new ideas.
After hours and hours of dead-end brainstorming, Kyle suggests they drink a bunch of cough medicine, in hopes that getting high will generate some good ideas. It doesn't, but the boys do trip balls. When the boys wake up after their all-night bender, they discover they've been watching Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens Wearing Hats the entire night. And loving it. Once Stan regains his faculties, it occurs to him that perhaps Craig's show is so popular because all of its student viewers are high on cough medicine. Which turns out to be precisely the case. The kids blow the lid off the scandal with a hard-hitting report, and the cough syrup problem is eradicated. Ratings for Craig's show collapse, and Sexy Action School News is approved for 27 more episodes. However, the kids can't come up with any more fresh ideas and decide to bail.
What I Learned Today
"This sucks. I don't wanna keep having to come up with ideas for shows all the time. It hurts my head."
- "Parent-teacher conferences will be held this Wednesday night, from seven to nine. So kids, get a lot of playing in before you get grounded." (Cartman)
- "I'm sorry kids. You should be proud of what you've done. It's just that it's kind of gay." (Mr. Meryl)
- "We need to make students think they have to watch our news show or they'll die." (Kyle)
- "How about we do a show where we kill Butters?" (Cartman)
- "Fellas, this is our chance! Everyone get your hair looking as fantastic as possible. It's time for us to do the most incredible investigative news report of our journalistic lives!" (Jimmy)
- "You need to know how important ratings are, Craig. So I'm going to suspend you from school, and request that you have your testicles removed surgically." (Mr. Meryl)
- "Kids don't care about the news, boys. It's boring. Kids want to see animals. Close up. With a wide angle lens." (Mr. Meryl)
- "Go play with yourself, Craig." (Cartman)
- "No doubt that if I were a little older, I would be aroused." (Stan)
- "Oh oh! Looks like it's Panda Bear Madness Minute!" (Token)
- "Butters, only gay little dweebs read the funnies." (Cartman)
- "Then there's the Maximum Strength Dongatussin Cough n' Cold, but of course, that's only if you REALLY want to trip balls." (Mr. Anders)
- "Woa I'm feeling kinda bowling ballish, fellas." (Butters)
Mr. Meryl, the Audio/Visual Department teacher and closet cough syrup abuser. Also Whistlin' Willy, the annoying mascot of Whistlin' Willy's Pizza Gulch. Lastly, we meet Mr. Anders, the super-helpful drug store clerk. He is later arrested in the cough syrup bust.
Pet Debuts Trey's cat, Jake, and Matt's dog, Mr. Yes, can both be seen in Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens.
Behind The Scenes
Craig's show, Close-Up Animals with a Wide-Angle Lens, consists of live-action images of dogs and cats mugging for the camera. At one point South Park's writing staff was so depleted of concepts that Matt and Trey toyed with the notion of showing animal close-ups for 22 minutes and calling it a day.
Where Did The Idea Come From
After returning, exhausted, from working on Team America: World Police, the creative team reached deep inside themselves and somehow produced three new episodes. This, their fourth, marks the moment when the wheels finally came off. After sitting for hours, staring at each other, the writing staff decided to have the kids be news reporters. This episode's long, fruitless idea meetings are painfully autobiographical. In fact, the "Idea Room" in this episode is modeled after South Park's writer's room.
Pop Culture References
The happy, romping music that plays over Animals Close-Up with a Wide Angle Lens is a parody of the theme to The Benny Hill Show. While tripping balls, the only thing Kyle wrote down is the lyrics to the Happy Days theme song. Also, the sleek new studio used for the boys' investigative report on cough syrup is a nod to the classic news program 20/20. Jimmy excitedly reveals that he got an interview with the sitting Vice President, Dick Cheney, but no one cares. Cartman even says, "I don't know how we're going to fit that in between 'Cheerleader Pie Eating' and 'Who's Got Skid Marks Monday'." When Butters is reading the "funnies," he cracks up at a line said by Dagwood -- a character from the long-standing comic strip Blondie.
During his "celebrity watch" segment, Butters says that he thought he saw Sigourney Weaver, but it turned out to be a dead horse.
South Park Elementary's cough syrup abusers include Tweek, Bebe, Red, and the Goth kids. We learn a ton about the South Park kids here: Sally Turner stuffs her bra (she was first seen in "Rainforest Shmainforest" and will be featured again in "Follow That Egg"); the background character with the brown/red hat is named Pete Bellman and he pees sitting down like a girl; and Clyde Donovan has only one testicle. Also, Token's last name is revealed here to be "Black," even though his family name was originally introduced as "Williams" in Season 5's "Here Comes the Neighborhood." From here on out, his full name is Token Black. This is the first time we see Whistlin' Willy's, the Chuck-E-Cheese-like pizza place that the boys eat at. It will become a commonly visited locale in the South Park world, featured in many future episodes. We learn here that you have to whistle to get your pizza, a rule that makes Cartman pissed: "God I wish we had Pizza Hut in South Park." After brainstorming for days in their "Idea Room" and coming up empty-handed, Cartman desperately suggests doing something involving Crab People. This plot fix was actually employed in "South Park is Gay" . There are three clocks in the Super School Newsroom: South Park, Denver, and La Casa Bonita -- all are in the same time zone (and city).
While tripping balls, Butters takes off his clothes and runs naked through the streets.
- e1 Good Times With Weapons
- e2 AWESOM-O
- e3 Up the Down Steroid
- e4 The Passion of the Jew
- e5 You Got F'd in the A
- e6 Goobacks
- e7 The Jeffersons
- e8 Douche and Turd
- e9 Something Wall Mart This Way Comes
- e10 Pre-School
- e11 Quest for Ratings
- e12 Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset
- e13 Cartman's Incredible Gift
- e14 Woodland Critter Christmas