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South Park: The Complete Twenty-Third Season
I'm not going to lie, I feel like it's been ages since I've seen the Comedy Central animated show South Park, but in actuality it's only been a little less than a year as of this writing. And given the events in the world, who the hell is marking ANYTHING by calendar time anymore?
Nevertheless, show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided on a change of pace in Season 23, starting the first six episodes in "Tegridy Farms," the marijuana farm that Kyle's Dad Randy owned and operated, then doing faux show introductions (and outtros) around that, and some others that included a diabetic boy and a show on the women of the town entitled "One for the Ladies," in a way to keep things fresh and fans on their toes as the show approached and then sped past its 300th episode.
But through all the twists and turns for each episode, you could pluck most of the storylines from this past season and drop them into real life. Want to look at how the vaccine debate is looked at by the two? It's covered here, as are subjects on transgender people in athletics, meatless meat products and entertainment streaming platforms to name a few.
It is "Band in China," the show's penultimate episode before #300, that for my money is the gem of the season. Done several months before the Covid-19 pandemic reaching North America (and shortly before its emergence in China), the show uses Randy's attempt to try and increase weed sales by doing business with China as a message of sorts for businesses to stop prostrating themselves to a country that kidnaps and imprisons scores of people, and vanishes them from the planet should they criticize its leadership. That China responded by pulling all South Park mentions from their country's entertainment platforms would seem to prove their point, but I'll leave that for others to decide.
I will presume that the creative forces behind South Park have the capabilities to work from home during Covid, so I would imagine they can extend their acumen to things like that, and China and the protests going on right now, and find a minor rebirth within themselves. God knows with way too many people up their backsides about whatever it is that they have going on politically, socially or personally, it could be of good use right about now.
Like before, ten episodes spread evenly over two discs, each look vivid from a color perspective. Practical film looks very good, almost like HDR, but the main source remains the animation, and none appear to have any notable moments of oversaturation or haloing to speak of. I did not see this season when it first aired, but the discs are acceptable substitutes.
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for all episodes, all of which is fine as there is a fair amount of music and dynamic effects like explosions and firefights in the show, which possess a nice level of immersion and channel panning. Dialogue is consistent and well-balanced through the course of the show, providing a nice technical backdrop for the Colorado kids and farmers.
The last time I did this, I wondered why Parker and Stone were still doing mini-commentaries and now, they didn't do any at all! Some "social commentaries" that are pop-up tweets and takes, and some concept art are the only extras here.
Whenever it is that entertainment starts returning to whatever that new normal will be, South Park sure seemed in good position before it to be prepared for the next step, and after seeing Season 23 and that prescience, well I kind of look forward to Season 24? Technically the discs are fine, but the extras are forgettable. If you need something to binge, this should do the trick.