Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods
Is the new planetarium a boring place to learn about the solar system, or the scene of a diabolical plot to control the minds of South Park's citizens?
Cartman slips away from a field trip to the local planetarium to audition for a chance to sing the Cheesy Poofs jingle on the company's next commercial. The rest of the class is brainwashed by the planetarium's director Dr. Tristan Adams when he uses a powerful machine to scramble the stars during a light show. After they watch the show the kids develop an overwhelming desire not just to revisit the planetarium, but to volunteer there as well.
Meanwhile, Cartman cheats his way into singing the Cheesy Poofs song. But his singing is so terrible that only one word of his makes it into the ad. He's thrilled however, because he's been on TV.
Mr. Mackey, concerned over the children's behavior, "mind melds" (an ancient technique passed down from school counselor to school counselor) with a kid who escaped from the planetarium and learns of the brainwashing. He, Nurse Gollum, Stan and Kyle then confront Dr. Adams and Officer Barbrady, who's been made to believe he's Elvis. They are quickly overwhelmed by the drones who are working for the planetarium, tied up and about to have their minds wiped.
But in the middle of the process Cartman bursts in, furious that the other boys missed his TV commercial. Angrily kicking over the star projector, he sends a full blast of mind control beams into Dr. Adams' brain, turning him into a drooling vegetable. Everyone is saved. Cartman is a hero.
What I Learned Today
"Planetariums suck ass!"
- "Stars are actually made of hot gas, which is exactly what comes out of Roger Ebert’s mouth." (Dr. Tristan Adams)
- "A haiku is just like a normal American poem except it doesn't rhyme and it's totally stupid." (Mr. Garrison)
- "Okay children, now I'm going to remind you that this is a planetarium, not a Bangkok brothel, so let's behave ourselves." (Mr. Garrison)
- "Can't we just be like normal third graders for a little while?" (Stan Marsh)
- "Drugs are good, m'kay." (Mr. Mackey)
- "Please, nurse, for a woman with a dead fetus on her head, you're not being very open-minded!" (Mr. Mackey)
- "You guys can all kiss my ass, because I was on television!!" (Eric Cartman)
Dr. Adams, the brainwashing leader of the Planetarium. Van Gelder, a little brainwashed kid from the Planetarium that escaped with Mr. Garrison's class. Cartman's Grandmother is also briefly introduced. She appears a few episodes later in "Merry Christmas Charlie Manson!".
This episode includes the first time Butters speaks. However, he only has one line and his voice is very different from what it sounds like now. He has his first major role in "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub".
Kenny, whose head explodes when Stan and Kyle accidentally overdose him with the brainwashing ray.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
The story is an homage to "Dagger of the Mind", an episode from the original Star Trek. On the other hand, the episode is named in "honor" of film critic Roger Ebert, who gave Trey and Matt negative reviews for their films Orgazmo and BASEketball in 1998. The following year, Ebert gave South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut another poor review.
Pop Culture References
When trying to explain just how lame the planetarium is, Cartman says it's "Night Court in its fifth season lame." Also Cartman auditions for the Cheesy Poofs commercial by singing Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money".
At the beginning of this episode, we learn that Garrison has been teaching the class via Barnaby Jones reruns. Cartman also mentions this TV show in "City on the Edge of Forever (Flashbacks)".
Actress and model Daisy Fuentes is mentioned by a mind-warped Van Gelder, who blurts out "Why?! Why in America's Funniest Home Videos, why?!" Apparently, her choice to host the home video show was emotionally scarring.
Principal Victoria goes to see Laser Loggins at the Planetarium, a laser rock show featuring music by Kenny Loggins. His hit "Footloose" blasts on screen.
Roger Ebert, mentioned in a single sight gag and a half-heard remark about his flatulence.
Also William Shatner, sort of. At the end of the episode, as Kyle contemplates the now-mindless Dr. Adams, he breaks into his best Captain Kirk-speak, saying, "Can you... imagine it, Stan? A mind ... emptied... by that thing."
The reporter for Channel 4 news is introduced as "a 34 year old Asian man who looks strikingly similar to Ricardo Mantleban."
Dr. Adam's brainwashes Officer Barbrady to think he's Elvis Presley, leading him to speak in broken Elvis talk. Mr. Mackey mistakenly thinks he's impersonating Charlton Heston.
- The planetarium sports the Latin phrase "Me transmitte sursum, Caledoini!" It translates roughly to "Send me up, Scotsman", in reference to the famous Star Trek phrase "Beam me up, Scotty!"
- A sign at the South Park police station reads, "South Park Police: To Serve and Neglect."
- Chef is one of many people that gets brainwashed at the Planetarium. This isn't the last time he has his mind brainwashed; it happens again in "The Return of Chef".
- Although she hasn't been officially introduced yet, Red is one of the children featured in Cartman's Cheesy Poof commercial. She can be seen in the vat of Cheesy Poofs, eating her heart out.
- Dr. Adams the planetarium director pronounces the word "plane arium" because a bone disorder makes it impossible for him to pronounce the "T".
- Cartman's middle name is revealed to be Theodore.
- This is one of four episodes so far where Cartman rescues Kyle. The other three are "Cherokee Hair Tampons", "Smug Alert" and "Imaginationland, Episode II".
- Behind Cartman in the control room, a visitor can be seen hidden on the left among the control lights and buttons.
- e1 Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus
- e2 Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut
- e3 Chickenlover
- e4 Ike's Wee Wee
- e5 Conjoined Fetus Lady
- e6 The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka
- e7 City on the Edge of Forever (Flashbacks)
- e8 Summer Sucks
- e9 Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls
- e10 Chickenpox
- e11 Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods
- e12 Clubhouses
- e13 Cow Days
- e14 Chef Aid
- e12 Spookyfish
- e13 Merry Christmas Charlie Manson!
- e14 Gnomes
- e15 Prehistoric Ice Man