Sunday, October 4, 2015
Video review: "South Park: The Complete 18th Season"
Ever since “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker became a Broadway bonanza, their “day job” producing the crude, smart animated show for Comedy Central has seemed to have taken a back burner. Seasons have been pared down to just 10 episodes as of late, including the 18th, which lasted from just late September till early December of 2014.
Though clearly no longer at the top of their game, the pint-sized provocateurs of a fictional Colorado town – Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh and Kenny McCormick – still manage to land plenty of satirical punches.
Things got off to a strong start with the first episode, “Go Fund Yourself,” which managed to lampoon the NFL controversies over Ray Rice’s domestic violence and the Washington Redskins name, as well as online companies that leech off of do-gooder donation drives.
“South Park” episodes have generally stood as standalone entities, but this season we saw several themes carry over, especially gender identity. Cartman claimed to be transgender just so he could have access to a nicer, private bathroom at school, while it was revealed that Stan’s dad Randy was secretly the alter-ego of teen pop star Lorde.
Other episodes were up and down from there. A low point was “Handicar,” in which monosyllabic handicapped kid Timmy starts his own Uber-like transportation service using motorized wheelchairs. It mostly seemed like a lame reason to feature the return of Nathan, Timmy’s Machiavellian rival from special ed, and his dimwitted sidekick Mimsy. Their vaudevillian antics quickly grew old.
Later episodes improved, such as one in which Cartman tricks naïve lickspittle Butters into believing he’s living in a different reality by slipping a virtual reality device over his head while he’s sleeping.
Despite the repetition and tired humor that has crept into the show, “South Park” still is gleefully sharp satire.
Bonus features are limited but decent. The DVD comes with deleted scenes and “mini commentaries” by Parker and Stone on each episode. The blu-ray edition adds more commentary culled from social media about every episode.