WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
I remember the first time I beheld the raunchy, juvenile genius that is South Park. It was a first-season episode entitled Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. I fell in love with the show on the basis of that title alone, and after watching the herky-jerky animation and busting a gut to the spectacularly rude humor, my love grew into adoration. That first glorious season of South Park is an eye-popping thing of unlikely brilliance, spawned from the minds of a couple of Colorado oddballs.
South Park's second season can't help but lose a little bit of the luster with which its first season glowed. By the time the show returned for its sophomore stint, we'd all had our turns being appalled and amazed by the show, and the return of South Park lacked the element of surprise. But the manic and carefree duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone managed to produce a solid second season, full of lunatic highs and groan-worthy lows, but entertaining throughout.
For those new to the show, you really ought to take a look at that first-season set. South Park is set in the Colorado mountain town of—you guessed it—South Park. The stars are four young cardboard-cutout boys: Stan Marsh, the show's voice of reason; Kyle Broslofski, the Jew with the abrasive mother and the adopted Canadian brother Ike; Eric Cartman, the fat, obscenity-prone angermonger; and poor Kenny, the unintelligible parka-wrapped dude who dies in every episode. At South Park Elementary and around town, the gang learns life lessons and, each week, find themselves engaged in amazing and disgusting adventures.
The second season of South Park is presented in order of air date. The episodes are as follows:
1) Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus—Instead of resolving a cliffhanger from Season 1, involving the identity of Cartman's father, we get this April Fool's gag, which finds the Canadian duo facing up against Saddam Hussein.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Warner presents South Park: The Complete Second Season in a pretty good full-screen transfer of the show's original 1.33:1 broadcast presentation. Obviously, South Park has a very low-rent, amateurish look, and any transfer effort is going to suffer because of the basic nature of the show. The good news is that, once you accept the look of these early episodes, the DVD provides a very good image. Colors are vivid, and detail is exemplary. I noticed some instances of compression artifacting, but nothing really distracting, and I saw no edge haloing. I viewed these episodes on a large set, and I had the usual problems with aliasing, but those with smaller sets should have no problems.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 2.0 audio presentation is perfectly in service of the material. Dialog sounds clear and accurate, and the front soundstage has a fair about of depth, if not separation. The music has a good amount of punchiness.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
First up is the hilarious Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls music video. You'll be playing this one repeatedly for your family and friends.
The best supplement, however, is the 50-minute Goin' Down to South Park documentary, which—although it's outdated (1999) and repeated from one of the standalone discs—is a great and predictably strange glimpse into the production of the show. Trey and Matt lounge in a hot tub, sipping champagne and fielding interview questions with a terrific haughtiness. They talk about the origins of the show, and later we get a peek at the making of the episodes. As much as I enjoyed this piece, I was disappointed that it wasn't a newly produced feature.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
South Park's second season suffers only slightly when compared with the outrageousness and originality of the first season. If you're a fan of the show, you'll need to slip this set right next to the first. My only complaint is that the extras aren't more up-to-date.