In the fall of 2002, MTV, arguably the saddest excuse for a television network on the face of the planet, somehow managed to strike gold with an animated college comedy “3-South.” However, likely befuddled by the task of promoting a program that wasn’t a staged “reality” show about bratty rich kids or losers following other losers around in either a van or bus while they go on dates, network executives were unable to help the show reach a wide audience and it was quickly canceled. This is a real shame, because after revisiting the series online recently, I can say it most certainly deserved better.
“3-South” centers on the idiotic duo of Sanford and Dell, friends who room together at the fictional Barder College. It focuses on their various collegiate adventures, as well as their interactions with other characters including moronic but oddly lovable redneck Ed Bickle, their nerdy albino hermaphrodite RA Todd Wolfschmidtmansternowitz and their third roommate Joe, who is portrayed as the show’s villain simply because he has the audacity to want succeed academically.
The show has a good time making fun of the various themes you usually see in shows about college freshmen. Some particularly funny moments include when Dell and Sanford steal a mascot (they steal Barder’s instead of a rival school’s) or when they rush a frat, (they mistakenly confuse the home of a deadbeat for a frat house and end up doing chores for him as “initiation”). It plays as if the characters within are unable to differentiate reality from what they’ve seen on TV, and the show does everything it can to make them look stupid.
Also strong is the writing. The show reminds me of another underrated (though nowhere near to this degree) cartoon comedy, “Futurama,” in that it excels in hilariously absurd, yet oddly realistic dialogue. It is ridiculous to hear Sanford utter lines like “my parents couldn’t afford your fancy scholarship” or “those bottles didn’t have broken glass in them” when Joe tells him there’s broken glass on the floor because he was throwing bottles against the wall. Yet, at the same time, it’s not completely insane to think there are actually people who say these things. Also, they’re just funny.
I was skeptical to go back to the show, fearing I may not enjoy it as much as before when I realized its creator, Mark Hentemann, is one of the most prolific writers on “Family Guy,” a show I despise. Luckily, “3-South” is different in that it tries to earn laughs by telling jokes, as opposed to simply presenting a string of random pointless interludes that are supposed to be funny simply because they’re weird. It’s a shame (to me at least) that Henteman has lost his way, as he’s clearly capable of writing sharp situational dialogue-based comedy.
The biggest strength of the show is its characters. Sanford (voiced by former “American Idol” co-host Brian Dunkleman) and Dell (Brian Posehn), while both idiots, play off each other well as they possess distinctly different personalities (Sanford is obnoxious, Dell is reserved) and I never found them annoying despite their stupidity.
While I liked most characters, the best, without question, is RA Todd (voiced to absolute perfection by Posehn). Todd is about as pathetic a character as I can ever remember seeing on television. He is an albino, has a painfully squeaky voice and is inflicted with a string of bizarre health issues (he was born with only one lung, yet has very sensitive hearing as he possesses two sets of eardrums). Todd is quite possibly the funniest TV character no one has ever heard of, as nearly every line he utters sends me into hysterics.
“3-South” was a very funny program that turned out to be a complete waste. Aside from a few people who stumbled across it during it’s airtime, it failed to succeed any sort of following, not even a cult one. It takes a special kind of unpopularity in this day an age for a show to not even receive a DVD release, but tragically, “3-South” is one of those shows. Even worse, when you put “3-South” into an IMDB search, the first result seen is “South Park.”
While I don’t exactly know how the marketing worked, my extreme hatred of MTV causes me to think they deserve all the blame. I cannot picture myself befriending anyone who watches anything currently being broadcast on that pathetic waste of airspace, so I have no problem blaming them for ruining a great show. Had this show been held out a year or two and placed on Adult Swim, I may not be wasting my time yapping about something you’ve never heard of.
While “3-South” does at times reach out to the lowest common denominator (flatulence and such), it’s not an offensively stupid show. In fact, there’s a great deal of intelligence written in with the stupidity. I stick with my “Futurama” comparison above, and if you like the style of humor of that program and you have time, I strongly encourage you to click here and enjoy what you’ve been missing for all these years.
- Good voice work
- Todd Wolfschmidtmansternowitz
- It’s opening theme is “Fight Test” by the Flaming Lips. Great song
- It was on MTV (the M should stand for “mouth-breathing dipshit” because you have to be one to watch any of their current programming).
Final Score: 8.75/10