I don't honestly think anyone expected South Park to have the longevity that it has had thus far in its long run on Comedy Central. It seemed like a long shot it's crass, it's offensive to a whole lot of people, and the animation is primitive. But you know what? It's funny as Hell and it has obviously found a loyal enough audience to keep it going despite those factors and now Comedy Central has given us the complete sixth season of the show on DVD to enjoy over and over again without commercial interruptions.
This season changed things up a bit. Kenny is gone (but not forgotten) and the boys are trying to fill the void he's left in their lives. Mr. Garrison goes a little further off the deep end now that he's out of the closet and the boys' substitute teacher, Ms. Choksondik goes to meet her maker. But the same humor is there, that same 'don't give a damn who we offend' spirit that makes the series so funny runs strong through these seventeen episodes.
Pop culture references, political jabs subtle and not so subtle, and of course no shortage of toilet humor and wacky sex jokes remain firmly in place all staples of the series. A few new characters are introduced and the boys grow up a little bit with the first tinges of puberty setting in. The series pushes the boundaries a little farther this season than it has in the past with set pieces like the Lemmiwinks journey or the scene where Stan's parents watch a XXX film together standing out as perversely hilarious. Jabs at Subway's incessantly irritating advertising campaigns and the Maury Povich show are all good for a laugh, as are plenty of Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and John Edwards gags.
The episodes contained on this three disc set are as follows:
Jared Has Aides: After crank calling a Chinese restaurant, the boys head on out to the town square where Jared from Subway is making an appearance. When they get there, he tells the boys that not only did he eat at Subway to lose weight but he also intentionally went out and got aides to help him. The boys think he means AIDS, not aides, and soon everyone gets very confused about Jared, especially his fiance.
Asspen: Everyone decides that it would be fun to go to Aspen and attend a 30 minute time share promo to get a free stay with the boys for a weekend. The boys head out to get some skiing lessons, Tad challenges Stan to a ski-off. Meanwhile, the parents go to the wrong meeting and end up trapped in time share Hell!
Freak Strike: The boys want Butters to replace Kenny but he's none too keen on this idea at all. Soon Cartman talks Butters into pretending to be a freak so that he can go on the Maury Povich show and win some cool prizes. Butters wins and is sent off to a giant mini putt course inspiring Cartman to try and get on the show as an out of control child so that he too can win a cool prize. Meanwhile the real freaks of the world are pretty upset over Butters' scam, and the organize a protest.
Fun With Veal: The boys take a field trip to a local ranch where they learn where beef comes from. The subject of veal comes up and the kids decide that they want to free the baby cows before it's too late for them. Stan lets them all loose and tries to hide them out in his room at home but the cops and Rancher Bob are on the look out for the missing cows and Stan's parents are wondering how and why all those cows got upstairs.
The Terrance And Philip Movie Trailer: All the boys want to do is check out the new Terrance And Philip trailer that's debuting tonight during an episode of Russell Crowe's hit TV series, Fightin' Round The World. Can it be that simple? No. They're having trouble locating a TV to watch it on without interruption, but they will not be stopped and will go to whatever means necessary to see the trailer, they'll even go buy tampons if they have to.
Professor Chaos: Stan, Eric and Kyle fire Butters as they don't feel he's a suitable enough replacement for Kenny. This sends him over the edge and he turns himself into a super villain calling himself Professor Chaos. The boys start auditioning for a proper replacement for Kenny, but Professor Chaos is bound and determined to screw things up for everybody.
The Simpsons Already Did It: Cartman talks the boys into throwing in some money so that they can order some Sea People, while Professor Chaos and his assistant, General Disarray, hatch a plot to block out the rays of the sun, but soon realizes that was already done on the Simpsons. He tries to come up with some more ideas, but again, the Simpsons have already done everything that pops into his head. Stan, Kyle and Eric put the Sea people that they don't want into their teacher's coffee and soon Miss Choksondik is dead, with a stomach full of sea men!
Red Hot Catholic Love: Father Maxi announces a weekend retreat that will be open to the local boys who want to spend some time away boating with some of the local clergy. Randy doesn't want the kids to go because of all the recent molestation issues in the news about the Catholic Church, and everyone begins to question Maxi and the rest of the clergymen and the boys try and figure out what exactly it is that the priests are supposedly putting into people's butts.
Free Hat: After checking out the latest Star Wars movie in the theater, the kids get upset over how many movies are being ruined with the insertion of new digital effects. The kids decide to start a film preservation club and to get people to join, Cartman decides that they should offer free hats as an incentive. Tweak doesn't make enough hats and soon a ton of people show up, confusing Cartman's Free Hat campaign with a different campaign to free a man named Hat from prison. Later on, Kyle, Eric and Stan decide to pay a visit to the Skywalker Ranch and teach George Lucas and Steven Spielberg a lesson.
Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society: School's back in once the death of Ms. Choksondik has been dealt with. When they return, the boys are surprised to find that Bebe has started to blossom into womanhood. This causes the boys in the class to start vying for her affections and soon they're all acting like idiots and they decide that Bebe should be the new class president.
Child Abduction Is Not Funny: Tweak gets all wigged out when he watches a TV show on child abductions. His parents install new locks on his doors and windows and teach him to never let anyone he doesn't know into his room. Later that night, they test him on what they've taught him and he fails miserably. Later he goes to the movies and when he recognizes the ticket taker as a stranger, he flips out and runs away. Meanwhile, the parents of South Park want the mayor to do something to make the city more safe for their children the end up hiring the man who runs The City Wok to build a great wall around the city, but will it keep out the Mongolians?
A Ladder To Heaven: My personal favorite episode of all time finds the boys needing to get in touch with their late friend, Kenny as he has the ticket stub they need to claim their candy store shopping spree prize. In order to get to Kenny, they build a ladder to heaven. When the news networks get a hold of this information, they turn it into a human interest story and everyone from the US Army to Alan Jackson get involved.
The Return Of The Fellowship Of The Ring To The Two Towers: The boys are obsessed with the Lord of the Rings movies and soon Stan's parents send them on a quest to deliver the new Lord Of The Rings tape to the Butters household. What Stan's parents find out after they've given the boys the tape is that they actually goofed up and have given them a porno, which in turn Butters' parents give to him to watch in the basement.
The Death Camp Of Tolerance: When the boys complain about Mr. Garrison's new teaching assistant, Mr. Slave, the parents come down on them for being intolerant. When they complain about the insertion of the class gerbil, Lemmiwinks, into Mr. Slave, the parents make them attend tolerance training so that they can better understand people who are different from them. Meanwhile, Mr. Garrison is just trying to get fired so he can sue the school board.
The Biggest Douche In The Universe: Kenny's possession of Cartman sends him to the hospital which eventually leads the boys end up going to Chef for advice. He brings them all to his parents' home in Scotland where his mother attempts a tribal exorcism on Cartman. Kyle becomes influenced by noted psychic John Edwards and enlists in a Jewish school while Stan tries to prove what a fraud Edwards is by pretending to have psychic abilities of his own, which results in getting his own TV show.
My Future Self 'n' Me: When Stan picks up and throws away an old doobie that they find lying around, a massive storm rips through South Park. A naked man from sometimes in the future then appears, and it turns out that this naked man is Stan. Future Stan stays with Normal Stan in his room for awhile, eventually meeting his friends and appeasing Cartman when he finds out that Stan grows up to be a loser.
Red Sleigh Down: Cartman wants to get onto the good list this Holiday season so he encourages everyone to spread some Christmas cheer. Soon, he and the rest of the boys are joined by Santa and Mr. Hanky in spreading season's greetings to Iraq. When Santa gets taken down, will even Jesus be able to go in and bring him back alive?
Well, we all know that the series' animation is pretty primitive so that does limit how good the series can ever really look but these DVDs do a fine job of brining the episodes to your home theater. The colors look nice and bright, the reds are solid and don't bleed and the black levels are pretty strong. There are no problems at all with print damage or grain issues (no surprise there) and edge enhancement and line shimmering is kept to a minimum. Mpeg compression artifacts aren't a problem at all, and the level of detail present throughout playback is as good as one can really expect given the style in which the series is animated. All in all, these transfers are quite nice.
Each of the seventeen episodes in the set is presented in an English language Dolby Digital Stereo mix with optional English closed captions provided for the hearing impaired. There are no alternate language dubs or subtitles present on this set. As far as the quality of the audio goes, there's really very little to complain about. While a surround mix might have been fun for a few of the more active scenes, there's plenty of directional effects spread out across the front of the soundstage and the dialogue is always clean, clear and easy to understand. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and no shrillness in the high end. As far as stereo mixes go, this one is tops.
Aside from a few previews for other Comedy Central DVD releases, the only extra features on this release come in the form of mini-commentary tracks from the series creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. While many of these run for no longer than a minute or two, they are pretty funny, most of them providing simply their quick take on the episode, sometimes informing us where some of the ideas came from. The positive aspect of this is that we're treated to some unique takes on the material from the men who make it happen, the negative aspect is that these are just way too short. Parker and Stone are funny guys and full length commentaries for each episode would have been very welcome (and yeah, I realize it's a lot of work, but after all The Simpsons already did it
South Park The Complete Sixth Season has so many brilliant moments that it stands as one of the strongest seasons in the show's history. The introduction of some fantastic new characters and plenty of running jokes that carry on from episode to episode make this a fun set to sit through and the writing is as cruel and subsequently hilarious as ever. The topical humor mixed with utter crassness and disdain for political correctness isn't going to tickle everyone's funny bone but if you're a fan of the series, add this set to your collection. It looks good, it sounds good, and while more extras would have been welcome, it's an easy one to highly recommend.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.