I can remember when South Park first hit the scene and parents were as shocked by its vulgarity as kids were amused by the expletives (albeit censored) that flew from everyone’s mouths. Now, here we are with its thirteenth season just starting on Comedy Central and you barely hear a peep from parents about the show any more. A sign of changed times? Maybe. Or maybe parents just got so used to the idea of four children going through the strangest situations involving gerbils and aliens that the obscenity of the show wore off. Well, I’m here to tell you that no…the show is not any less obscene than it was during its first season, but it is just as entertaining.
All fourteen uncensored episodes from South Park’s twelfth season are now available in this exclusive three-disc set. In this collection, South Park follows the new President-elect from his acceptance speech to his first official day of duty as Commander in Chief. The boys keep busy helping a pop-princess who’s down on her luck, negotiating a truce for striking Canadians, and preventing giant rodents from destroying the world. For them, it’s all part of growing up in South Park.
The twelfth season was one of the first I followed in full as it aired (either I’d catch it after Colbert Report or watch it online) and despite having seen past seasons before, I was never quite so engaged with South Park as I was this season. The consistency of the episodes was impressive and the giant hamsters remain one of my all time favorite two-part South Park’s, simply because of their ridiculousness. Still, the season wasn’t perfect and there were a few mediocre stories.
Oddly enough one of my least favorite episodes was “Major Boobage,” which, despite getting everyone to say “awesome bewbage” everywhere, really wasn’t all that funny to me. The pacing seemed off and nothing about it really “clicked.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen the film it was based on, but really that was the low-point of the season for me. “The China Problem” is also a weak episode, as it starts off with a great joke and uses that as the platform for the entire episode. Cartmen’s ignorance can only go so far and I think this episode took it beyond its limits.
In particular the brilliant ploy the pulled with “About Last Night…” was just funny as hell. The easy set up of who would/wouldn’t win the election and the conspiracy behind it all was just downright hilarious. On top of that the “Ungroundable” episode that closed out the season had me in fits of laughter if for no other reason than to see Hot Topic’s burn.
What manages to keep South Park entertaining is not only because it’s able to poke fun at itself when need be, but to also remain timely and up with current events. It dates the show a bit when you watch it again years down the line, but for every presidential episode they throw in there we find another gem like “Super Fun Time” which really doesn’t have much of a real-world purpose at all and is probably one of the most ridiculous episodes of the season.
In the end there’s little more exciting than watching fourteen episodes of South Park and while they may air in batches of seven on the network, watching them all back-to-back again on the set itself made it feel like more of a complete season. Of course there’s no string that runs throughout the season, but it is still a highly entertaining cartoon. What is really so exciting about the show, however, is that there have never really been any truly horrible seasons. Hit and miss episodes, yes…but the show has yet to succumb to the ways of The Simpsons. Of course South Park has also had shorter seasons and nice, long breaks inbetween so that may have something to do with it as well.
Overall if you’re a fan of the show, then the twelfth season is another strong entry in the line. A few episodes drag on, but for the most part you’ll be laughing your head off at both the absurdity and genuinely thought provoking nature of some of the shows (“Boobage” isn’t one of those). Recommended.
Paramount has released South Park on both DVD and Blu-ray and for the review I’ll be tackling the DVD edition. Like previous editions it’s been released in a standard three-disc digi-pak complete with inversed spine text (yup, despite being corrected on the Blu-ray, it’s still backwards on the DVD). Of course this creates a sense of uniformity across the seasons so it’s not something I really object to in the least. Video for the release is what you’d expect from modern animation—clean and clear. Audio too, a strong Dolby Stereo mix, is clean and clear.
Extras on this release include Commentary: Mini-Audio Commentary by Trey Parker and Matt Stone on all episodes, which is always a nice addition for these releases. A lot of episodes don’t require a full spectrum analysis and the mini-commentary’s are nice bursts of information about individual episodes. Two Six Days to South Park featurettes show the making of “Super Fun Time” and “About Last Night,” while a full on The Making of “Major Boobage” wraps up the extras for the set. While the extras aren’t plentiful in number, their length more than makes up for it and the hours spent on these few extras will more than satisfy the average South Park fan.
As an added bonus the entire season is included as a digital copy, so those of you who want to take it on the road with you can feel free to do so. You never know when you might get an itching to watch those hamsters on your portable device, so be sure to pick this one up if you have a plane ride coming up.
Overall the twelfth season is a fantastic ride with great extras. Not much different in terms of past releases, but when you do it right, why change the formula? Highly Recommended.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.