Tooncrap #21 - South Park: Pip
Comedy Central: 2000
Written by: Raymond Gallant
I haven't really touched upon South Park's
contributions in the world of the awful animated atrocities. And while
I'm still a big fan of the show, I can easily say that the show has
produced many a turd sandwich, and the early seasons are no exception.
while, granted, a lot of those have to do with the original format of
the show not fully holding up, much like the early Simpsons episodes for
the most part, Some are just bad episodes because the idea and execution
were both just horribly done. And no better case is this than with the
fourth season episode "Pip".
Pip was one of South Park's early characters. And much like many of the
early characters, he was basically a one gimmick character with little
to no development throughout the show's first three seasons. He pretty
much was just the kindly British kid who Cartman called French. Granted,
he does get a moment of awesome in the "Conjoined Fetus Lady" episode,
proving to be unstoppable at dodge ball whenever he's being picked on.
Other than that moment, he really did nothing of note.
Which makes giving him a solo episode even more strange. Not to mention
a solo episode based on a work of Charles Dickens no less. You see, Pip
was based on the protagonist Pip Pirrip from the book Great
Expectations. Considering South Park's propensity of shock value and
lowbrow humor, having Trey Parker and Matt Stone parody the works of any
famous author, let alone Dickens, seemed like a joke to begin with. And
considering how many people consider this one of South Park's worst
episodes, I guess it was a joke no one laughed at.
So, let's see how bad "Pip" truly is, as we review this thing.
We open the episode with...
Malcolm McDowell? I guess the so' 'op was cancelled, so Trey and Matt
managed to get him to do opening segments. He is introduced as "a
British person", and tells us that this episode will focus on Pip, and
be South Park's representation of Great Expectations.
We go straight into the story as Pip goes to see the graves of his
deceased parents to tell them about how much fun it is that his sister
But before Pip can head home, he's grabbed by an escaped convict.
Feeling sorry for him, Pip, being an apprentice blacksmith, decides to
free the convict from his shackles and offers him a sandwich.
Pip returns home to his abusive sister, and her husband, a dimwitted yet
kindly blacksmith named Joe. Who can make a metal orange, but sure the
hell can't make money. So, with the family poor and starving, they find
a job for Pip in the paper. A wealthy woman named Miss Havesham is
seeking someone to entertain her adopted daughter. And since Pip is for
the most part just a nice kid, they figure he can get it done.
Pip heads to the Havesham estate, and is greeted by her adopted daughter
Estella, who pretty much constantly calls him the worst names
imaginable, since she's kind of a bitch. Pip meets Miss Havesham, who
has essentially never left the mansion in many years, and is interested
in seeing Pip and Estella play together, mainly in hopes that she will
break his heart. However, whenever Estella tries to break Pip's spirits,
it doesn't work, because Pip's so overly kindhearted, and infatuated
with Estella, that he doesn't mind being abused.
It also turns out that Pip isn't the only boy being paid to play with
Estella, which appears to be all part of some plan by Miss Havesham to
break his heart.
Pip's good luck continues as a lawyer from London arrives to tell Pip
that an anonymous benefactor wants him to come to London to learn to be
a proper gentleman. Pip of course believes that it's Miss Havesham. But
regardless, Pip is to become a gentleman of great expectations.
Upon arriving in London, Pip is greeted by his roommate, a boy named
Pocket, who is particularly chatty. It also turns out that this is the
same boy who was also paid by Miss Havesham to play with Estella. Pocket
tells Pip of Miss Havesham's backstory, while constantly trying to teach
him of proper table manners.
Essentially, Miss Havesham was a spoiled girl, who had fallen in love
with a man. The two were to married, but when the wedding day came and
the groom never showed up, which explains why she's never left the
Now a proper gentleman, Pip goes to Miss Havesham to thank her for
helping him. She tells him of how much Estella has changed, and asks if
he loves her. She tells Pip that a ball will be held the next day, and
Estella will be there, and for Pip to go after her. Which again is part
of her plan to break his heart.
So, for the most part, despite being a very dry episode, they have
followed most of the book's major plot points of the story. Pip becoming
a gentleman, Miss Havesham stringing Pip along in his love for Estella
in hopes to break his heart. For the most part, it really is a cliff
notes version of Great Expectations.
And then it all falls down a cliff with the third act, which is usually
the point in a South Park episode where the writers seem to be stuck in
how to finish the story, so they throw together some bullshit out of the
The best example of this being the episode "South Park is Gay", where
despite no logic in it at all, the big revelation is that the stars of
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy were actually crab people in disguise.
At the ball, Pip is reunited with Estella, and learns more about her.
She has no heart. Not in the sense of a lack of a beating organ, but no
emotion of empathy. She also has a boyfriend named Steve who's 17 and
has a car. So, despite all of Pip's efforts to become a proper
gentleman, it's proven to be all for naught. He returns to Miss
Havesham, only to learn that she had set the whole thing up in hopes to
break his heart completely. And it definitely appears to have worked.
So, why did Miss Havesham do all this? In the book, it was simply due to
her hatred of men after being abandoned on her wedding day. So, you'd
think that would apply here.
Nope, it was because she needed the tears of brokenhearted men to use
for her genesis device, which will fuse her soul into Estella's so she
can continue to break the hearts of men.
Can-Can I get a visual representation of this episode right now?
So, yeah. We spent two acts with a dull, accurate enough representation
of Charles Dickens' book Great Expectations, only for the third act to
feel like it was ripped off of Banjo Kazooie.
Oh, and she has an army of robot monkeys...
I can't imagine why people don't like this episode.
Pip escapes, but passes out in the street. He's rescued by Joe and
Pocket, who also introduce him to the person who actually did send him
off to be a gentleman. It turns out that it was the escaped convict, who
managed to turn his life around in London and become a millionaire.
Since Pip was the only person who ever treated him with any ounce of
respect, he wanted to help Pip in becoming a proper gentleman. Pip
learns his lesson, that being a gentleman doesn't mean being fancy, or
well mannered, it means being a gentle man. And the episode ends here...
Or at least it would have made some sense in doing so until we added all
the bullshit with Miss Havesham, so Pip, Joe, Pocket, and the convict
return to her manor to kick her ass and save Estella.
The foursome return as Miss Havesham has the genesis device ready to go,
with several men hung by their ankles. Since they were all former
boyfriends of Estella (And considering the age gap for most of them,
that's pretty damn creepy), she wants them to cry to power up her
device. As Pocket tries to stop them from crying, Pip tries to prove to
Estella that she can be kind. However, despite Pip proving it with
bunnies, all Estella does is snap their necks.
Also, the Ex-Con ends up dead because I guess Miss Havesham can spit
However, after killing about 25 baby bunnies, Estella is tired of it,
which I guess is enough for Pip to believe that she does indeed have a
heart after all. She escapes the device, which causes Miss Havesham to
burn to death. Everyone escapes, Pip and Estella are in love (I guess),
and all of Pocket's baby bunnies are still dead.
And that's "Pip". Is it the worst South Park episode? I don't really
think so. There have been far worse that have dealt with either poorer
subject matter, or just terrible writing. However, the problem is that
the episode is particularly boring. It lacks any really funny moments or
dialogue that makes it particularly memorable. Pip just isn't a
particularly memorable character, so having this episode with the lack
of Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Cartman, or even Butters, really hinders the
episode. This situation would bite them in the ass later on with another
episode, but we'll save that one for another time
And despite trying at certain points to stick with the story of Great
Expectations, the third act feels so stupid, that it really makes this
episode even more pointless. I get that it's South Park, and they try
for mostly over-the-top situations, but this not only felt out of place,
but uninspired as well. It's just a story that never felt like it had a
place in South Park.
Fans of the book wouldn't care for it due to its attempt at crassness,
as well as the third act being a massive WTF. And fans of the show
wouldn't care for it since most (let's be honest) aren't ones who would
probably well verse themselves in literature. It reminds me of the joke
from "Weight Gain 4000" where Wendy revealed that Cartman's report was
nothing more than "Walden" with Cartman writing his name over Henry
David Thoreau. Which led to the line "I bet if Walden was a sitcom,
you'd all know what it was". That line I think speaks toward the general
disinterest of this episode.
After this episode, Pip never really made many appearances, and was
killed off for good in the controversial episode "201". Perhaps Trey
Parker and Matt Stone had high expectations for young Pip Pirrup, but in
the end, they certainly weren't great.