Honorable Mention - Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut
What kind of person would I be if I didn't at least make mention of the famous 'Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut' episode? Being one of the more famous episodes of Season 1, one may wonder how it didn't make the list.
The episode brings to light the fact that Cartman has no father, and he ends up going on a journey to find who it could be. But, being that he was conceived at a "drunken barn dance", his father could be one of several people. This is part one of a two-parter (or three-parter if you count Season 2's 'Not Without My Anus' gag episode), and I believe to this day the only cliff-hanger episode 'South Park' has ever done between two seasons.
The main reason it didn't make the list, however, was that I frankly just got tired of it. Once Season 1 hit syndication, this one seemed to be on ALL the time! There's also a running gag in it that plays around with what I believe is supposed to be the theme from 'Titanic' that gets a bit annoying. But admittedly, it is still one of the better episodes of the first season.
#05 - Starvin' Marvin
In 'South Park's Thanksgiving episode, the boys send money to the Christian Children's Fund after seeing a commercial hosted by Sally Struthers. The main reason, however, isn't to save one of the starving children, but get their hands on a special sports watch.
An Ethiopian boy is delivered instead of the watch, however, and the boys decide to take him in as their friend, calling him "Starvin' Marvin". After taking him to show and tell, Mr. Garrison insists the boys call the Red Cross and have him returned to his home.
Upon calling, the Red Cross comes to Cartman's house looking for Marvin, but Marvin tricks them into taking Cartman instead. Meanwhile, Dr. Mofesto has genetically engineered a race of killer turkeys, and there even ends up being a sort of war between South Park and the turkeys to hilarious results.
#04 - Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride
'South Park' seemed to be out on an overall mission to be controversial. It still is to this day, but there were areas back in the late 90s that were still a little bit taboo to tackle. Although there were enough shows tackling the matter of homosexuality back then a bit more subtly, 'South Park' decided to do it loud and proud.
The episode features Stan with his new dog Sparky. It turns out Sparky is a gay dog, and this bothers Stan as the other kids (namely Cartman) make fun of him for it. Sparky then runs away, feeling unwanted.
Stan finally finds Sparky, however, at Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary, where gay pets can go live in peace. The end lesson of the episode, of course, is that it's okay to be gay. Though perhaps surprising to some, I remember this one being significant at the time for steering me in the right direction with maturity on the subject matter.
#03 -Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
Okay, so the fact of the matter is, this is an episode that features a singing, dancing piece of poo named Mr. Hankey, who has as big a Christmas spirit as you can imagine. Kyle seems to be the only one who can see him, and it's passed off as Kyle trying to cope with being Jewish at Christmas.
This episode marks the first time that songs were fully featured, including 'Lonely Jew on Christmas' and of course, the ever-famous 'Kyle's Mom is a Stupid Bitch'. The latter became popular enough that the 'South Park' movie features an extended version of it.
In many ways the episode is crude toilet humor, but in many other ways it has everything to do with the ridiculous amount of offended people there seem to be around the holidays. The school's Christmas play suffers from parents getting angry and rearranging things to make it non-offensive, and the payoff is just hilarious. So, though the episode features a singing dancing poop, it's actually one of the deeper episodes of the first season.
#02 - Cartman Gets an Anal Probe
We didn't get Comedy Central when I was 15, so we didn't manage to catch any of 'South Park' in time for it's August 13 start date. However, after about a month, we saw the show advertised for Canadian company Global TV. Of course, my brother being 17 and I being 15 HAD to see this new level of obscene humor.
The episode simply enough involves Cartman getting probed by aliens with some sort of communications device. While Stan and Kyle insist that visitors came down and abducted him, Cartman plays it all off as them just trying to scare him.
Kyle's brother gets abducted, however, and Stan and Kyle try to work together, using Cartman, to communicate with the aliens and get his baby brother Ike back. It was pretty much the funniest thing we saw at the time, and the episode gets bonus points for being the only episode fully animated using construction paper cutouts; a painstaking process to be sure.
#01 - Pinkeye
After a Russian Space Station crashes into Kenny, he is taken to the morgue. It's there that two irresponsible workers spill Worcestershire Sauce into the embalming fluid, making Kenny a zombie.
The episode unfolds with some hilarity, as the boys treat Kenny like there's nothing wrong (probably because he dies all the time). They all go trick or treating together as Kenny keeps feasting on people, and the other boys just pass it off as strange behavior, getting annoyed at the lack of candy. However, they eventually figure things out with the help of Chef, and it turns into one of the gorier cartoons you'll probably see for it's time.
'South Park' may not do Halloween very often, but when they do, they have a tendency to pretty much nail it. This was the episode of the season EVERYONE talked about at school - even more so than the Pilot! I'm happy to say, it still holds up. Even if zombies are kinda overdone.