I haven’t been a steady watcher of South Park since its early days, right after Jesus and Santa Claus fought and Kenny died in every episode. Some time after the brilliant movie musical, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, catching new episodes became difficult, what with children running around and Comedy Central being broadcast on an east coast feed here in Los Angeles. By the time TiVo came around, South Park was off of my radar. Now in its 13th season, South Park continues to be the most consistently rude, obnoxious, vulgar and funniest damn show on television. What amazes me about what creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone pull off each week is how topical and current their storylines are. As Comedy Central began airing new episodes last week, they also released the 12th season as a three-DVD collection. When the opportunity presented itself to review this latest season of South Park on DVD, I was excited to look at a hit series with fresh eyes.
The new DVD collection includes all 14 episodes from the 12th season that ran March to November of 2008. Highlight episodes include “Over Logging,” in which the United States comes to a complete standstill when the Internet shuts down. Families travel west to internment camps in Silicon Valley where there is word that there may be some Internet. At the same time, the government and its team of scientists try to figure out what caused the Internet to shut down. “Over Logging” is representative of South Park at its best, blending the dustbowl destitution of The Grapes of Wrath with the fear and paranoia of any 1950s sci-fi horror movie.
“About Last Night” is the election episode that aired 24 hours after this past fall’s Presidential election. Although the production team began planning the episode three weeks in advance, they had to wait for the election results to actually finish the show. Thus, Parker, Stone and their crew completed “About Last Night” at the very last minute. Combining the actual outcome of the election with an Ocean’s Eleven heist (Obama is played as a George Clooney cool cat jewel thief) makes “About Last Night” smart, topical and very funny.
The 12th season also includes the infamous episode “The China Problem.” For those of you who don’t know about it, in this particular episode, Kyle, Stan and the gang all go to the movies to see the latest Indiana Jones adventure. To their horror, they witness their hero, Indiana Jones, getting raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (literally). The show not only screamed what many fans felt after they walked out of the theater after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but was also a perfect parody of crisis of consciousness movies like Sleepers. Besides the obvious outrageous nature of this episode, “The China Problem” showed that Parker and Stone still had major cojones by openly mocking a huge money-making film for their parent company, Paramount (not to mention two of the most powerful men in Hollywood).
The best of all of the episodes is “Major Boobage.” In it, the city goes into an uproar when children begin capturing male cats so they can have the cats spray in their faces. The result of getting a cat to spray on your face is a hallucinogenic trip that takes the users (including an addicted Kenny) into a tripped-out realm that is a full-on Heavy Metal parody. If you are a fan of the 1981 softcore fantasy animated film, you will love how the South Park gang pays tribute, complete with stylized animation that takes after the stoner film and songs from the soundtrack by Don Felder and Sammy Hagar.
After 12 seasons, South Park is as fresh as the show I watched back in the late ’90s. New characters have been added, supporting characters have moved to the fore and they stopped killing Kenny, yet the four lead characters, Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny, remain just as funny as they were when the show premiered. South Park continues to thrive because it is not afraid to take on the golden idols of society, whether it is celebrities, politicians, institutions or popular culture. The show acts as a mirror to our society and makes us look at ourselves in harsh, but funny light. The best television series, and South Park has to be considered one of the best comedies in the last decade, have the ability to make us laugh not only at what is on screen, but at ourselves, too.
The DVD collection includes a day-by-day making-of feature, behind the scenes of “Major Boobage” and “About Last Night”Â footage, mini-commentaries by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and a digital download of the entire season.