In these uncertain times, there is still one thing on which the American people believed they could rely: South Park. Yet for the first time in its 16-year, 240-episode history – and in a week rife with satirical possibilities – the animated comedy series has failed to deliver an episode on time, after a power cut scuppered production.
Since the first episode of South Park aired in 1997, its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have become known for their remarkably tight production schedule. Each episode is written, animated and recorded in the six days leading up to its broadcast, and delivered to the Comedy Central network just before deadline. This is in stark contrast to other animated series, which typically wrap several months before they are due on the air..
Comedy Central revealed that South Park Studios in Los Angeles had suffered a three-hour power-cut on Tuesday. “From animation to rendering to editing and sound, all of their computers were down for hours and they were unable to finish episode 1704 “Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers” in time for air tonight,” the channel said.
South Park recently started its 17th series, drawing 4.3 million US viewers to the season premiere. Until this week, Parker and Stone had never blown a deadline. “It sucks to miss an air date,” Parker said, “but after all these years of tempting fate by delivering the show last minute, I guess it was bound to happen.”
In a recent interview with the CBS news programme 60 Minutes, the show’s producer Anne Garefino said she tried to persuade Stone and Parker to alter their working practices, but, “they’re always thinking ... if they just don’t put it down until the very last minute, they’ll get the best, the funniest, the smartest thing in there.”
The strategy has paid off in the past, for example in 2003, when an episode featuring the capture of Saddam Hussein was broadcast three days after the real event.
The delayed instalment will be replaced by a repeat of the 2001 episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die”, recently voted fans’ second favourite.