It’s remarkable sometimes what the diligent fan, armed with a little patience, can discover lurking in the dark, cobwebbed corners of the internet. For example, writer Zack Smith found something quite fascinating on a wiki devoted to Comedy Central’s South Park. South Park Studios has released downloadable PDF versions of scripts of numerous early episodes of the series, ranging from the first season’s “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” to the fifth season’s self-parodying “Towelie,” and they’re all nicely, neatly indexed on one convenient page. In Smith’s estimation, the scripts are well worth checking out for die hard South Park fans who want to find out about the show’s creative process. “The scripts are quite entertaining,” he says, “with minimalist but precise scene descriptions and frequent usage of ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION MARKS LIKE THIS!!!! Some good reads and a nice class in how to do comic timing in stories.”
The the show is often heavily reliant on outrageous visual jokes, one might reasonably wonder how South Park’s humor translates to the page. Here, by way of illustration, is a sample of the “Anal Probe” script:
Now that’s an act break. Clearly, in those early days, such niceties as spelling and capitalization were not a top priority for series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Furthermore, Smith finds it useful that the cache of scripts includes the legendary, notorious “Scott Tenorman Must Die.” He explains that this particular installment is “an episode Trey Parker and Matt Stone have admitted in interviews was about their ‘Eureka!’ moment where they figured out what worked best for their plotting.” Besides their educational value, these South Park scripts could prove useful to superfans who want to stage their own versions of “Scott Tenorman Must Die” in their own living rooms and back yards. Divorced from its jolly cartoon visuals, “Tenorman” becomes even more threatening in script form, a dark rumination on vengeance and cruelty.
Without the round-faced, big-eyed South Park kids to make this gallows humor palatable, the text-only “Tenorman” is the stuff of nightmares.