What is that new South Park commercial modeled after?

"It's driving me crazy" says mefioso to Ask Metafilter, "There's these new South Park commercials on Comedy Central that's a take on some interstitial, show intro, or commercial from my childhood (born in '76). It's the quasi-pinball roller coaster ad, where the silver ball goes by and flips up 3 flags. What are these ads a parody of?" The answer is still blowing in the wind, as no one has solved the mystery though everyone is having a jolly good time walking down memory lane. Do you recognize this south park ad? Is it a homage and if so, of what?

Super adgrunts, watch the ad here: Comedy Central - South Park - Pinball



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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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noahr's picture

My adgrunt status is currently "unspectacular" (a far cry from super) and I cannot see the video, but from just the clip I would say that it's a parody of a little clip that was shown on the PBS show, 3-2-1 contact. A red ball was released at the top, and it rolled along, knocking down flags and starting a ferris wheel type thing in motion, etc. Sort of a Rube Goldberg roller coaster. i think at the end a cherry was put onto a sundae or something. (or maybe I am just confusing that with the red ball).

Also on 3-2-1 contact were the bloodhound gang (whenever there's trouble, we're there on the double!), spiderman, and a thing where when people would talk, typography would fly out of their mouths. (possibly involving spiderman).

Now you can finally go to sleep.

claymore's picture

Noah, methinks you're getting your 3-2-1 Contact confused with your Electric Company (Hey you guuuuuuuuyyyyyssss!!!!!)

noahr's picture

Oh yeah maybe so, they came on one after the other.

I found a video of the intro to 3-2-1 contact but it didn't have this clip. They also have electric company:


AnonymousCoward's picture

Can't view the video either, but it sounds to me like a segment that used to appear on Sesame Street, which also featured a pinball. It definitely ran on Sesame Street and not on Electric Company--the pinball also flipped up flags with numbers and stuff on them, and seemed to be educational for learning how to count, etc.

AnonymousCoward's picture

It reminds me a little of an older version of the Pressman/Ideal/Parker Brothers/Hasbro game 'MouseTrap'. I'm pretty sure the version in the 70's had pop-up flags. Here's the URL for the present version.


AnonymousCoward's picture

I don't know about 3-2-1 Contact, but the red ball maze with the ice cream sundae first appeared on Sesame Street, one of the pioneering shows on PBS.

What a comfort to me it is that the creative forces behind South Park's house ads have the same cultural touchpoints as me.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Wasn't it a Sesame Street deal? A counting exercise where the ball would trigger numbers?

AnonymousCoward's picture

it's modeled after a sesame street clip intended to help kiddies with numbers, specifically the counting of them.

a compliation containing the clip lives here:

Neo's picture

Hehe, even in that ask metafilter thread that you link to people suggest it's both 3-2-1 contact and sesame street. In any case, we all remember those flags.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Wish I caught this earlier. I worked on the spot.
Its definitely Sesame Street. Its on a sesame street dvd "Learning About Numbers".

Dabitch's picture

aha! Thanks for solving the mystery for us eucho. You had a lot of people scratching their heads. ;)