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SOUTH PARK: SEASON 12
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Creators:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  308 Minutes
Release Date:  March 10, 2009

“Are you sure Kyle needs to be taught a lesson?”

“I’m not just sure…I’m HIV positive!”

Shows ***

The twelfth season of South Park was a funny and frequently strange ride.  How else can you explain the two part episode “Pandemic”, in which our beloved fourth graders try to form a Peruvian Flute Band for some quick cash, only to get rounded up by Homeland Security, and then learn that these annoying bands are actually there to protect the world from giant flesh-eating guinea pigs?

Weird stuff, but par for the course for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who I’m guessing probably never would have believed their groundbreaking, smart, foul-mouthed show would actually reach twelve years on the air.  South Park was often topical, and still is, but Peruvian Flute Bands?

This fourteen episode season boasted a couple of genuine classics, and all uncensored on disc.  “Major Boobage” has the boys experimenting with the hallucinatory properties of cat urine, and turns into an eye-popping and hilarious take on the R rated animated classic Heavy Metal.  In “Breast Cancer Show Ever”, Cartman finally faces his comeuppance when a frustrated Wendy finally challenges him to an after school fight.  Can he prevail?  Or more appropriately, can he get out of it before being humiliated in front of the entire school?

Cartman has some shining moments in this season, starting with “Tonsil Trouble”, when he, ironically enough, ends up with HIV, and figures the best way to deal with it is to make sure Kyle gets it, too!  And in “Eek, a Penis”, Mrs. Garrison returns to her…er, his former self, but in the meantime, Cartman has to teach some kids the value of cheating.  Edward James Olmos is spinning in his grave…and he’s not even dead!

A Disney phenomenon wreaks havoc on the school in “Elementary School Musical”.  Do our boys give in and burst into song with the rest of class just to stay cool?  And speaking of cool, when a bunch of ‘vampire’ kids start moving in on the hysterical goth kids’ territory, it ends with Butters battling for his soul in “The Ungroundable”.  Funny stuff!

And lest we forget, we had an election last year, and Trey and Matt take aim on the supporters of both candidates in “About Last Night…” in which both Barack Obama and John McCain actually have a little more than the White House in mind!

“Britney’s New Look” is another strange one, in which the tabloid celebrity seems doomed to be sacrificed to the appetites of mass media, and what in the world would ever send “Canada On Strike”?  Yikes.

But then, “Overlogging” shows us a world without the internet, and the extremes Stan’s dad Randy will go for a little bit of online time.  And Cartman saves the day not once, but twice…once from “The China Problem” when he figures China’s display of prowess at the Olympics means world domination plans, and again when he has “Super Fun Time” trying to save a lame living museum from some real life bad guys.

It’s a good year overall…nothing that really left a bad taste in my mouth, and lots and lots of laughs surrounding one or two questionable ideas.  Trey and Matt have managed to produce a demanding weekly animated show for a decade plus two, and if there are signs of stress, they’re still very small.

Every season of South Park is a welcome addition in my home, and with all that’s going on in the world, one can imagine the boys won’t run out of worthwhile material any time soon.

Video ****

WOW!  Now THIS is more like it.  I thought the show would look good on Blu-ray, but man, this is a colorful, sharp, crystal clear revelation from start to finish.  Even crude animation enjoys the benefits of high definition.  It’s going to be hard to go back and enjoy the old DVDs after seeing what this set has to offer…more, please!

Audio ****

The TrueHD audio deserves praise as well…the show has gotten increasingly ambitious with their soundtracks, and the big musical numbers and scenes of chaos actually open up for a full and dynamic listening experience, smartly utilizing front and rear stages for maximum effect.  Again…more, please!

Features ***

The twelfth season actually offers a little more in the extras department as well…in addition to the ‘mini’ commentaries from Trey and Matt, there is a look at the making of the show under their normal six day time crunch, and behind the scenes of the “Major Boobage” and “About Last Night…” episodes.

Summary:

The twelfth season of South Park offers plenty of uncensored fun and frivolity, and as a long time fan, I’m extremely overjoyed at the Blu-ray presentation.  I bet you will be, too!

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