I am pretty conflicted on this one, I felt it was good the first time I saw it, but apparently the widespread reaction to last week’s installment was pretty negative. In this one, the episode parodies Animal Planet’s I Shouldn’t Be Alive series. A narrator retells the encounter the boys had one afternoon as they went zip lining, with interviews with the characters that tell the audience they somehow managed to survive being extremely bored for 4 hours. That is, all except for Kenny, who died of boredom. Stan has the idea to go zip lining, and brings Cartman, Kenny, and Kyle along. As they meet the other people in their zip lining group, they slowly realize the gravity of the situation. Once they actually get to the first zip line, they realize they must wait for the older people to trod along and drag out the experience unnecessarily.
The characters are never in any actual danger, but instead dramatize a boring or uncomfortable situation going zip lining to the point that it is similar to a heroic struggle of several individuals against the brute force of mother nature. Meanwhile, Cartman has ingested Mountain Dew, which provides the “ticking time-bomb” metaphor of Cartman’s stomach. They abandon the zip lining group and decide to go horseback riding, which will take them back to town. They then realize that horseback riding is just as boring as zip lining, so they decide to take a powerboat back to town to escape the horrors of horseback riding. Here is where it takes an unexpected turn, as the 4th graders are portrayed by real actors on a boat (who appear to be in their mid-20s) as part of the documentary format parody. This falls in line with a similar joke from “Free Willzyx,” where the construction paper animation of the four boys are portrayed in an overly definitive form.
Eventually, the three boys are rescued by Mr. Hankey, a piece of excrement who is a recurring character from earlier in the series. Mr. Hankey was introduced in the first season and was given his own Christmas Special at the end of the 20th Century.
While they did not give a strong anti-wilderness message in this one as I previously expected, they did manage to portray what is typically “outdoorsman” activities into agonizing torture. Like I said, my first impression was positive, but that may change with time. It was interesting to see also how they took such mundane discomforts to the extreme to give a “Don’t-go-ziplining” message. Tomorrow’s episode “Cartman Finds Love” will be the mid-season finale, the show will continue later this October.