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SOUTH PARK:  SEASON TWO

Review by Michael Jacobson

Creators and Voices:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Audio:  Dolby Surround
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  Documentary, Music Video
Length:  404 Minutes
Release Date:  June 3, 2003

"You WILL respect my authori-tie!!"

Shows ***1/2

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone first created South Park, they figured their first few episodes would be it.  But airing station Comedy Central wanted more, so the duo kept coming up with it.  Before long, it was clear that not only would one full season be in the works, but a second as well...and, of course, history has shown even more than that.

But with a Season Two assured, it gave the Colorado bad boys a chance to offer a season ending cliffhanger.  But while audiences waited for the conclusion of "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut", Trey and Matt decided to pull a fast one...since their normal Wednesday night air date fell on April Fool's Day, they shirked on the promised conclusion to air a full episode of Terrance and Phillip, those fart-crazed Canadians that our South Park boys loved so much!

Actually, it was a well planned-out practical joke hinted at in the cliffhanger.  But audiences didn't respond well, and for good reason...the gross out one-joke premise of Terrance and Phillip couldn't sustain an entire full length episode, even if "Not Without My Anus" did bring the flap-headed version of Saddam Hussein into the South Park fold!

So disappointed fans had to wait.  But when "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut" hit the airwaves, it finally got Season Two off to the start it needed.  The long awaited answer to the identity of Cartman's father made for one of the funniest episodes ever!

The second season is presented in its entirety on this three disc set, and it's filled with many high points.  "Chickenlover" introduced Cartman the cop as an image that still lingers with the series, while "The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka" has the boys getting revenge against Stan's Uncle Jimbo, until all of them learn a lesson from...Jesus Himself!

"Ike's Wee Wee" gives a lesson on brotherly love, while guidance counselor Mr. Mackey finds himself out of a job and experimenting with drugs and drink...m'kay?  And Trey and Matt serve up a couple more holiday specials, with the enhanced viewing mode of "Spookyfish" (and man, is it scary!) and the new heartwarming Christmas special, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson".  Yikes!

"Flashbacks" spoofs those sitcom episodes where characters remember moments from earlier shows, but with a twist...nothing we see the second time is quite the way we saw it the first!  "Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls" offers a delicious spoof of the Sundance Film Festival, while also ushering in the return of Mr. Hankey, everyone's favorite talking excrement!

"Chef Aid" boasts many celebrity voices including Elton John and Ozzy Osbourne, as South Park's favorite soul man takes on the recording industry.  The final episode, "Prehistoric Ice Man", serves up a hilarious spoof of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

At best, South Park offered up savory social commentary with sharp satire and razoring wit disguised behind crude language and off color remarks.  At worst, sometimes terribly unfunny ideas were driven into the ground and broken off.  "Not Without My Anus" wasn't the year's only miscue; "Roger Ebert Should Lay Off The Fatty Foods" overplayed the concept of a planetarium as a sinister place, while "Gnomes" introduced a rather annoying caffeine-affected character named Tweek.

Still, for it's sophomore year, the show continued to be much more hit than miss.  Stan and Kyle were still the moral centers (of sort) of the show, Cartman was still a lovable jerk, Chef still dispensed soulful wisdom, Officer Barbrady was still an incompetent, and Kenny still died. 

And yes, as the episode title suggested, Cartman's mom WAS still a dirty slut. 

Video ***

Animation always tends to look good on DVD, even when it's as primitive as South Park.  Using a more limited color palate and simpler shapes and figures, these shows render on disc with bright tones and crisp images, even though the detail in the scenes is deliberately lacking.  For fans of the program, these DVDs represent an accurate translation of what was aired.

Audio **1/2

Though labeled as surround, there isn't much going on in your rear stage with these audio tracks.  But for the most part, it isn't missed...dialogue and music sound fine, although it seems these discs are mixed a little more quietly than your average DVD.  A few clicks up on the volume might be in order for the best listening experience.

Features **

Not much in this department...just a documentary called "Goin' Down to South Park" (about 50 minutes and featuring looks at Trey and Matt's early animation works) and a music video for "Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls".

Summary:

Season Two of South Park is a solid collection of foul but smart humor from our favorite potty-mouthed 8 year olds in misadventure after misadventure.  These complete seasons continue to be the best way to collect this show on DVD...fans should be pleased.