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SOUTH PARK: SEASON ELEVEN

Review by Michael Jacobson

Creators:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  “Mini” Commentaries
Length:  308 Minutes
Release Date:  August 12, 2008

“Real guitars are for OLD people!”

Shows **1/2

Spoofing is something Trey Parker and Matt Stone know well, and they exercised their command of ridicule in some new and funny ways in the eleventh season of South Park.  There are episodes that rank amongst the all-time funniest in the show’s increasingly lengthy history.  But more so in this year than in ones prior, there seemed to be a few more that just didn’t work.

My favorite of year eleven had to be “Snukes”, a 24 styled adventure in which Cartman, suspecting an innocent new Muslim student in class, actually stumbles upon a terrorist plot targeted at a Hillary Clinton rally in South Park.  But I also enjoyed “D-Yikes”, in which Mrs. Garrison (nee: Mr. Garrison) discovers she’s a lesbian, and ends up leading a group of girls to save their beloved gay bar from some Persian businessmen.  It was a clever take on 300.

Even The Da Vinci Code gets a send-off In “Fantastic Easter Special”, as Stan questioning what bunnies and colored eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus leads him down a dark hidden path.  The fate of the Church could hang in the balance, or at least rest in the hands of a secret society known as…well, you’ll have to see for yourself.

Fake guitar playing gets its comeuppance in “Guitar Queer-O”, when Stan becomes a master of a popular video game and gets offered management, publicity, and an all out show at a local arcade.  It’s the stuff that dreams are made of, if only Stan could keep away from the virtual heroin game!

Cartman has an uproarious adventure in mischief in “Le Petit Tourette”, when he figures out that by pretending he has Tourette’s Syndrome, he can say anything he wants and get away with it.  But his plans always seem to backfire…check out “Cartman Sucks” to see what happens when a gag of taking photos of his pal Butters turns into a nightmare and gets Butters sent to a Christian camp for the bi-curious!

That episode could have been a lot funnier, but somehow, tormented kids with identity crises doesn’t produce a lot of laughs.  “Lice Capades” could have worked, with the idea of lice thinking that they are destroying their own environment (a head of hair) when they aren’t having topical similarities to our own man-made global warming hoax, but instead, it just seemed mean spirited. 

There was better success in “More Crap”, in which Stan’s father Randy may have set a world record with his commode activities, only to find himself rivaled against…ready for this?…Bono.  Or “Night of the Living Homeless”, which elevated a societal problem into an all out nightmare…very funny stuff.  “The List” shows what can go wrong with a school girls’ list ends up in the hands of the guys. 

Good stuff, but there were more moments that just didn’t work.  The first episode “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson” started off great, as Randy speaks the unspeakable word on live TV.  A great beginning, but it seemed Trey and Matt just didn’t know what to do with it.  And the three part episode “Imaginationland” was just an overblown, unfunny exercise in tedium.

I can only hope the boys aren’t running out of steam.  Trey and Matt have managed to keep South Park relevant and funny for a decade now, and their short seasons usually seem to make it easier for them to focus their comedic energies.  I hope they get back to finding the magic a little more in the future.  I mean, twenty years from now, are enough people going to remember 300 well enough to know why “D-Yikes” is so funny?

BONUS TRIVIA:  For the first time, this set presents a season of South Park uncensored.

Video ***1/2

Maybe it’s just my new high definition set, but South Park sure looked better than ever this time around.  The colors seemed brighter, the images crisper, and the contrast levels higher…nicely done.

Audio ***

The stereo mix offers some fair dynamic range, good music here and there, and clean clear dialogue throughout.

Features **

As before, the season eleven set includes “mini” commentaries on each episode with Trey and Matt.

Summary:

Call it a year of amusing ideas and misplaced opportunities…though South Park still offers plenty of laughs in its eleventh year, the show is starting to exhibit some possible signs of strain.  Only time will tell.

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