DVD Review: South Park: The Complete 15th Season (Paramount)

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South Park Season 15 DVD

That crazy show about paper cutout third-graders gets weirder and (if possible) even more offensive with its 15th season. Included on the season set are stories mocking: the British royal wedding (lampooned here as a backwards Royal Canadian wedding, complete with butterscotch pudding); the iPad (morphed into a spoof of the cult horror film The Human Centipede); pointless award shows (especially Comedy Central’s own Comedy Awards—talk about biting the hand that feeds); college sports (represented here in the form of “Crack Baby Basketball”); and the WikiLeaks controversy (which is cleverly linked to South Park‘s resident gerbil Lemmiwinks). One of South Park‘s major strengths in recent years has been its ability to comment quickly on news stories thanks to its quick turnaround—typically episodes are written and produced in the week they’re broadcast. The Simpsons or Family Guy could never comment on the news like this show does, as they take many months to produce an episode.

As is typical with most South Park seasons, No. 15 is uneven—some home runs, some base hits and some misses. But when creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are on, the results are tremendous—funny, daring and incisive. And sometimes it gets serious: The somber two-parter that hits mid-season beginning with “You’re Getting Old” shows Stan, turning a year older, realizes everything in life is phony and worthless, and that he’s incredibly bored with how nothing ever changes in the town of South Park. Many viewers interpreted this as a commentary from Parker and Stone on how sick they were of doing the show, and that this was an indication they were going to end it soon (not so—they recently re-upped for more seasons).

Of course, South Park Season 15 gives us plenty of the show’s fan-favorite antihero, Eric Cartman. The scene depicted on the box cover is from “1%”, in which Cartman is ostracized for being so physically unfit that he brings down the fourth grade class average (a poke at the President’s Fitness Test). Targeted by his angered classmates, he finds his stuffed animals are being hunted and “killed”, and the hysterical episode also satirizes Occupy Wall Street with ridiculous, pointless sit-ins at a Red Robin restaurant. In “The Poor Kid”, Kenny is put in foster care and Cartman finds out the new poorest kid in school is … Cartman. He must, therefore, goof on himself as he did on Kenny with a series of “Your mom is so poor …” jokes. The Archie Bunker of his generation, Cartman rules this season as he has all previous ones.

While South Park was never the most brilliant show visually, the quality of the animation—especially effects such as fire and explosions—has improved over the years. And the DVD and Blu-ray sets are now rendered in wide screen—not full screen, as in older seasons. Also, the episodes are now presented uncensored. That doesn’t necessarily mean much—many words, including the “S” word, now run on the show un-bleeped anyway. Personally, I miss the bleeps; I think it was funnier to not hear the word somehow, and the cursing can be relentless at times. Previous seasons weren’t for kids; this one DEFINITELY isn’t.

South Park sets aren’t know for their bonus features, mini-commentaries from Parker and Stone being the usual offering. But this season actually offers a very interesting feature—a documentary that shows how Parker, Stone and their staff write, record and animate a new show in six days. It’s a crazy process, but it enables them to keep the show so fresh and funny.

Buy South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season at Amazon
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