SOUTH PARK: THE HITS
Review by Michael Jacobson
Creators: Trey Parker,
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: “Spirit of Christmas” short
Length: 308 Minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2006
A best-of compilation of South Park seemed well in order now that the show is approaching its tenth season. That’s the easy part. The hard part? Deciding what goes in and what doesn’t.
That’s bound to cause controversy, but then again, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are no strangers to controversy. Ever since their foul-mouthed third (now fourth) graders hit the airwaves on Comedy Central, no subject has been too taboo, no sensibility has been too delicate, and no sacred cow has been untouched.
But picking 14 episodes out of nine classic seasons? Wow. From the point of view of a huge fan (that would be me), a lot of the choices are good ones. The omission of some others are unpalatable. There’s nothing on here from the first two years, though that’s sadly understandable, given that those seasons’ DVDs were released by a different studio.
Let’s start with what it DOES have: 14 selections, as mentioned, with at least 13 of them hard to argue with. From the boys’ classic take on Paris Hilton in “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” to the spoof of all things Peter Jackson in “The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers”, from the hilarious rip on anime in “Good Times With Weapons” to Cartman’s ultimate practical joke backfiring in “AWESOM-O”, the laughs are loud, hard and frequent.
Some of South Park’s infamous looks at our times are included, starting with TWO episodes from the not-yet-released ninth season. “Best Friends Forever” has Cartman trying to get the feeding tube removed from his perpetually dying friend Kenny in a twisted take on the tragic Terry Schiavo incident, while “Trapped in the Closet” spoofed all things Scientology, with unforgettable ribbing of Tom Cruise and John Travolta (“YO! Is L. Ron here? OmiGOD!!”)
“Red Hot Catholic Love” took a hard but funny look at the Catholic Church and her then-recent scandals, while “Timmy 2000” gave us our first look at our favorite wheelchair bound kid. “It Hits the Fan” was an instant classic because of its take on the NYPD Blue episode where the s-word was uttered on TV for the first time. Trey and Matt’s concept was to then use the word as many times as possible in a single episode, with a handy counter in the corner of your screen. Priceless!
“Casa Bonita” is a personal favorite, as the ever-selfish Cartman devises an outrageous scheme to take Butters’ place on Kyle’s birthday trip to a trendy Mexican restaurant. Who could ever forget Butters pining to Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”? And Cartman stars again in the ultimate revenge story, “Scott Tenorman Must Die”. Not only did the episode feature a guest appearance by Radiohead, it has an ending that has to be seen to be believed!
“The Death Camp of Tolerance” introduced Mr. Slave as teacher Mr. Garrison’s new assistant, as an unamused Mr. Garrison tries to wage an all out war on political correctness. And in “Fatt Butt and Pancake Head”, our favorite celebrity ex-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez get their comeuppance, but poor Cartman is far from happy!
The one mysterious inclusion for me was “Towelie”, a lame one-joke premise that got old in about five minutes. What was left off of this set to include that episode? At least two of my favorites, “Raisins” and “Something You Can Do With Your Finger”. If I wanted to, I could list another ten shows without thinking too hard that would have been better here than “Towelie”.
But that’s my opinion…I’m sure each fan will have his. Best-of compilations always settle a few arguments but raise a lot more. I’m not too worried, though…the very fact that this is labeled “Volume 1” means more good times are sure to be had. And more controversy as well. Trey and Matt wouldn’t have it any other way.
The animated programs continue to look quite good on DVD, with clean lines, bright coloring and crisp detail, making the limited approach extremely appealing.
The stereo mixes also remain good, with the songs and music a definite plus.
Included in this set is the original self-produced short film “The Spirit of Christmas” that started it all. And if you’ve never seen Jesus battling Santa Claus over whose holiday Christmas is, get ready.
Thirteen of the very best episodes of South Park are included in The Hits: Volume 1, with the only complaint being that it’s actually a FOURTEEN episode compilation. No matter…those crazy kids from South Park will still help you have yourselves a time with their mirth and mayhem.