Red Sleigh Down
It's Christmastime in South Park and the townspeople have all gathered for the annual lighting of the South Park Christmas Tree. Before it's lit, however, Jimmy offers up his rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" which takes all episode for him to sing. Meanwhile, Cartman is nervous -- he desperately wants the new Haibo robot doll for Christmas, but he's been so naughty he fears he won't get it. In order to "balance the books" fast, he attempts to perform an act of almost unbelievable niceness: bringing Christmas to Iraq. With the help of Mr. Hankey and his Poo Choo Express, Cartman and the boys travel to the North Pole to recruit the help of Santa. Overcome with the spirit of the season, Santa signs on and loads his sled with presents for the Iraqi children. But while delivering presents over Baghdad, Santa's sleigh is shot down by a shoulder-fired missile. He is then taken prisoner and tortured. Horrified, the boys and Mr. Hankey seek out Jesus, who joins them in their fight to recapture Saint Nick. They return to Baghdad, guns blazing, and rescue Santa. Just before they can get away, however, Jesus is gunned down and dies. In keeping with Jesus' last wish to "not let them take away our Christmas spirit," Santa bombs Baghdad with special missiles that explode with festive items that decorate Iraq for Christmas.
Santa drops the boys off in South Park, where Jimmy has just finished singing his song. Santa lights the town tree and gives each of the boys Haibo robot dolls, which ultimately pisses Cartman off -- seeing that the other boys have them too, he now thinks they are "worthless and gay."
Suddenly, in a memorable South Park Christmas moment, Kenny walks into the scene. He's been missing since Season 5's "Kenny Dies," where he died "for good" from a terminal illness. After saying he's just "been hanging out," the boys accept his presence as if nothing ever happened, and they walk off together feeling like things are finally back to normal.
What I Learned Today
"Christmas is a very special time of year, but . . . this year it almost didn't happen. There's a man named Jesus who gave his life to save me. And so I declare that every year on Christmas Day, we should remember Jesus for what he did and thank him for it. From now on, Christmas will be a day for remembering a brave man named Jesus."
- "Oh, this will be the happiest Christmas the Middle East has ever seen!" (Cartman)
- "Sleigh is down. Reindeer . . . all dead. Both Santa's legs are broken. Santa's . . . very sad." (Santa)
- "I'm gonna fucking kill you!" (Santa)
- "Oh my God, the Iraqis killed Jesus!" (Stan)
- "Hey, I'm just your naughty or nice accountant! Don't blame me for the numbers!" (Kyle's Cousin Kyle)
- "If you cured cancer and AIDS next week, you would still owe two presents." (Kyle's Cousin Kyle)
- "It's not stupid! It's a toy that you can starve!" (Cartman)
- "What the hell are WE supposed to do?! We're like nine inches tall!" (Gnome)
- "Come on, gang! It's up to us to save Christmas!" (Cartman)
- "I'm having a precious Christmastime moment, Kyle, if you don't mind." (Cartman)
- "Oh no, not Santa's balls!!" (Santa)
- "This is Baghdad? God what a shit hole. I mean -- Wow, these poor, unfortunate people!" (Cartman)
- "Howdy Ho, Jesus." (Mr. Hankey)
- "My children, you should know something I'm packing." (Jesus)
The reindeer for Santa's backup sleigh, "Red Sleigh 2": Steven, Fluffy, Horris, Chantel, Skippy, Rainbow, Patches, and Montel.
A lot of characters make returns in this episode, including Mr. Hankey; Kyle's Cousin Kyle; Santa; Jesus; the Underpants Gnomes (whom, it is revealed, work at the North Pole for Santa Claus two months of the year); and of course, Kenny.
All of Santa's first-string reindeer (Donner, Blitzen, etc.) are blown to bits when his sleigh is shot down in Baghdad. Also, a large number of terrorists and Baghdad military personnel are killed in the bloody rescue of Santa. And finally, Jesus.
Mr. Hankey's joyful Christmas song "Poo Choo Train" rings out as his poop-train chugs it's way to the North Pole. Cartman also breaks into his acapella original "Precious Christmas Time Moment" while riding in Santa's sleigh.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
This episode came together at the last possible moment. The big problem was figuring how to resurrect Kenny without disrupting the narrative flow. In the end, they decided to simply have him show up at the last possible moment.
Pop Culture References
Santa lives in his own Fortress of Solitude, a reference to Superman's arctic command center. And when he's tortured by the Iraqis for information about the American invasion, he replies with a line from Lethal Weapon: "Then we're in for a long night, 'cause I don't know shit!" The title and plotline of this episode, as well as many details throughout, parody Ridley Scott's war film Black Hawk Down.
The Haibo robot doll is a take off on other robot pet animals that were quite popular at the time, most notably Sony's AIBO robotic dog.
When Santa's delivering presents to the Iraqis, two children with big eyes and huge smiles come out to grab presents. This animation style is an homage to the stop-motion holiday specials done by Rankin/Bass in the 60s and 70s. While opening Santa's presents at the end of the episode, the boys' faces mimic this Rankin/Bass style as well.
Cartman has Kyle's Cousin Kyle add up how many times he's been bad over the previous year compared to how many times he's been good. According to Kyle's calculations, there were 4,312 instances of being naughty, and only three of being nice. Which means Cartman owes Santa 306 presents. This is, of course, a parody of how taxes are done.
When Santa's sleigh crashes into the Italian church, an old woman can be heard screaming "La Morte Rossa!" -- which is Italian for "the Red Death." This is not to be confused with the screams of horror "La Muerte Peludo!" heard in Season 12's "Pandemic I" and "Pandemic II." That is Spanish for "the Furry Death."
There are real pictures of Saddam Hussein hanging on buildings in Iraq.
In the wide shot of the crowd at the end of the episode, there's a ton of South Park characters from many past episodes there to celebrate the holiday. To name a few: Chef's parents, Lolly (the candy store owner from "A Ladder to Heaven"), the Thompsons (the ass-faced couple from "How to Eat With Your Butt"), the Star Trek Nerds, Kenny's full family, Mr. Adler (the boys' wood shop teacher) and Rancher Bob (from "Fun with Veal").
- e1 Freak Strike
- e2 Jared Has Aides
- e3 Asspen
- e4 The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer
- e5 Fun with Veal
- e6 Professor Chaos
- e7 The Simpsons Already Did It
- e8 Red Hot Catholic Love
- e9 Free Hat
- e10 Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society
- e11 Child Abduction is Not Funny
- e12 A Ladder to Heaven
- e13 The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers
- e14 The Death Camp of Tolerance
- e15 The Biggest Douche in the Universe
- e16 My Future Self 'n' Me
- e17 Red Sleigh Down