South Park Season 4: Episode #405: Great Expectations
Yes, it's South Park does Dickens! Featuring Malcolm McDowell (of Clockwork Orange fame) as the narrator ("Hello! I'm a British person!"), this is one of my favourite episodes of all time. Follows the story of Great Expectations fairly faithfully, until the very end....
This episode puts Pip, the English guy who attends South Park Elementary with Cartman, Stan et al, in the role of Pip from Great Expectations. Other than Pip, there are no other South Park regulars in the episode. Here's the basic plot...
Just like the book, it starts off with Pip visiting the graves of his parents, where he meets the convict, Magwich. Pip, in line with his character in South Park, cuts the convict's shackles and gives him a sandwich, all the while merrily ignoring all the abuse heaped on him.
Joe the blacksmith and his wife, Pip's sister, are hilarious... Joe creates metal oranges and newspapers, while Pip's sister screams and whines. But Joe spots a wanted ad in the metal newspaper he's made, requiring the services of a young boy at the Havesham Estate. Miss Havesham hires Pip to be a playmate for her daughter Estella, who insults and abuses him in all sorts of amusing ways (such as playing the "hit the blonde child over the head with a lump of firewood" game).
Pip eventually falls in love with Estella; and soon afterwards is visited by a lawyer, whose anonymous client wishes to send Pip to school in London, to be educated and made into a gentleman. He finds himself sharing accomodation with Master Pocket, a young man who was also engaged as a playmate for Estella by Miss Havesham. He tells Pip the tragic story of how Miss Havesham was left standing at the altar by her husband-to-be on her wedding day, and generally instructs him on how to be a gentleman.
All the while, Pip assumes that it is Miss Havesham who has sent him to London to become a gentleman, so that he would be good enough to marry Estella, or whatever, and so on a visit home, he goes to Havesham Estate to thank his benefactor. Miss Havesham tells Pip that Estella is going to a royal ball, and so Pip decides to go too.
But alas, at the ball, he discovers that Estella has a boyfriend ("Pip, he's 17 and has his own car!"). A broken-hearted Pip visits Miss Havesham, only to find out that she knew about Estella's boyfriend, and was planning to have her break his (Pip's) heart!
Ever since being jilted at the altar, Miss Havesham has lived to break men's hearts, and has brought Estella up to be the same... and she has built a machine, the Genesis Device, powered by the tears of broken-hearted men, which will transfer her soul into Estella's body, so that she can continue to break men's hearts for another generation! And, worse yet, all was ready for her to put this fiendish plan into operation that very night (this is where the cartoon majorly deviates from the book.....;). Following this revelation, she sets her army of robot monkeys on Pip, who is beaten unconcious and dumped outside the gates.
Pip wakes up in his old bed in Joe and his sister's house, where he was brought by Pocket. There he discovers that his benefactor is, in reality, the convict he had helped! He tells them all of Miss Havesham's evil plan, and Joe, Magwich and Pocket agree to help him rescue Estella. So, as our narrator says, the scene is set for a thrilling showdown!
When they break into the Havesham Estate, our heroes find that Miss Havesham and Estella have already taken their places in the Genesis device, and all of Estella's broken-hearted boyfriends are tied up, dangling over a trough to collect their tears to power the machine. Miss Havesham unleashes her army of robot monkeys on them; Joe and Magwich fight it out with them in a scene reminiscent of The Chaos Engine (an old game I used to play on the Commodore Amiga), and Pocket tries to cheer up Estella's old boyfriends, while Pip attempts to convince Estella not to allow her mother to take over her body.
Pocket completely fails to cheer up the broken-hearted men with his mad ramblings, while Joe and Magwich fight a losing battle against the monkeys; Magwich gets killed by Miss Havesham when she spits green acid into his face; but, following the death of 26 cute baby bunnies, Pip eventually manages to convince Estella that she does have a heart, and emotions. Estella leaps from the Genesis Device, which then explodes, taking Miss Havesham with it.
So, they all live happily ever after!
Except for the 26 baby bunnies.
Oh, and Pocket, who later dies of hepatitis B.
Here are some of my favourite quotes from the episode:
- Miss Havesham: Does it frighten you to look upon a woman who has not seen the sun in over twenty years?!
Pip: Oh, no! No! You sort of look upon women who have not seen the sun for over twenty years quite a lot these days!
- Estella: I HATE YOU! YOU'RE AN OOZING PAINFUL HAEMEROID THAT BELCHES PUSS!
- Pip: Joe, do you know anything about girls?
Joe: Sure! They're those things with vaginas in them!
- Joe:Oh, I don't know about that! I just like to keep to me blacksmiffin'!
- Pocket: Oh, what a gay time we shall have, and I do mean gay as in festive, not as in penetration of the bum!
Actually, this episode of South Park inspired me to go read Great Expectations. I'd been put off Dickens by being forced to read Hard Times (one of the most dreary, depressing books in the history of literature) for my Leaving Cert. (I think I ended up writing about the alternative, The Mayor Of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, in the actual exam), but South Park inspired me to try again.
I finished Great Expectations. It doesn't end quite like the South Park episode, but I s'pose Dickens had to put something depressing in it. All in all, it was a good read, with a lot more whimsical humour than you'd expect from Dickens.