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Warner Home Video presents
South Park: The Complete Second Season (1998)

"If you want mind numbingly bad swill, watch "South Park" (or what I call it, "Suckage Bark")"
- IMDB.com comment on South Park from user 'Master Gomorrah'

Review By: Dan Lopez  
Published: June 24, 2003

Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Issac Hayes
Other Stars: Jesse Howell, Mona Marshall
Director: Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (virtually everything possibly offensive in a network TV show)
Run Time: 07h:20m:00s
Release Date: June 03, 2003
UPC: 085393783426
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C+C+ B-

DVD Review

For years now, South Park, Comedy Central's badly animated juggernaut of controversial, juvenile humor has deeply penetrated popular culture. For a show that started with a laughably terrible Christmas short, the immense empire that is South Park is nothing short of surprising. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have, thankfully, understood that despite their tremendous success, it's really a fluke, based around most of the world being entertained by a bunch of second-graders spouting curses and getting into irreverent situations. Whatever the case may be, the show is still pretty darn funny. In fact, I've long considered it one of the best shows on TV. Why? Maybe it's the satire of television, or the self-aware nature of the comedy, or maybe I'm just amazingly shallow and like to see talking, singing, dancing "poo."

If the first season of South Park was the seeding of the show, the second season, presented here in all its glory, is surely the resulting growth. The humor is a little more developed and its creators obviously started making fun of their own success. In the 18 episodes on these three discs are such momentous occasions as Cartman's first adoption of the now ridiculously popular phrase "Respect my authoritay!", the event of Chef-Aid, and the first appearance of Saddam Hussein (on the show, that is). Unquestionably, one of the high points of the set comes in the form of Terence and Philip: Not Without My Anus (partially a satire of the Sally Field film, Not Without My Daughter), the April Fools episode in which the audience expected to learn the conclusion of who Cartman's father was, and instead were greeted by a full-length Terence and Philip episode (the Canadian TV show within-the-show all about...farts). It caused a mass outrage from people who failed to get the joke and actually cared who Cartman's father was, and subsequently went down in South Park history. There's a spoof on a Star Trek episode, called Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods—a title having nothing to do with the episode, of course. There's even a great Halloween episode filmed in "Spooky Vision" (pictures of Barbara Streisand at the corners of the screen).

All in all, it's a joyous ride through some ridiculous garbage, and that's meant as a compliment. Whether it's a story about a school nurse with a stillborn fetus attached to her face or the South Park kiddies befriending Charles Manson to learn the true spirit of Christmas, the show provides ample laughs and it wasn't until now I realized just how much the copious commercial breaks (when originally broadcast) kill the show. When seen uncut, the humor flows more naturally and hits you more often. Don't go expecting loads of unseen material and uncensored language, though. Part of the charm of this set is, frankly, the retention of the good ol' fashioned 'bleeps' used to take out the swearing. In retrospect, it's hard to believe this show has gotten as far as it has, but at the very least, it seems the further it progresses, the funnier it gets. It's often compared to The Simpsons, but I totally disagree. And South Park, unlike The Simpsons, has retained much of it's own dignity over the years, getting rid of stale characters and constantly messing with viewer expectations rather than just repeating the same thing over and over. It isn't high art; it's anti-art.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Let's face it, South Park isn't exactly the epitome of quality animation. That said, though, many of the episodes here have weak source material and noticeable artifacts, haziness, and other issues. It really doesn't effect the episodes much, but for those expecting a pristine transfer of the show, it may disappoint. Overall, it's better than watching it on TV, but won't really amaze anyone with how it presents the cartoon beyond what most are used to.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is pretty much functional, and nothing more. South Park is primarily dialogue, and that it does well. The occasional music and sound effects come across fine and there's little to either complain about or praise here. Again, not much of a dramatic change from the stereo presentation of the TV show. A few issues with the discs do crop up here and there, though. One or two episodes are encoded into Dolby Surround for some odd reason it drops the low end out of the track, resulting in really shallow, harsh audio. Another small complaint is the lack of balance between some of the introductory segments (discussed in the extras section) and the episodes themselves. Often, the audio for the intro will be comfortable, but then the episode will come on and explode off the screen. On a side note, I'm disappointed this set didn't come with the Japanese dubbing. The show has become really popular in Japan and I'm dying to hear what all these characters sound like in Japanese.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Four fold case
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls" music video
Extras Review: While the set itself isn't heavy with extras, it does however have a wonderful series of introductory segments. Although not advertised on the box, each episode on the first two discs is presented by Matt Stone and Trey Parker themselves in short little bits. On the first disc, the duo are playing acoustic death metal songs at a retirement home, and on the second disc, the duo are engaged in a fake cooking program called "Bakin' Bacon with Macon." Why these segments are missing on the third disc is unknown to me, but for the time they're present, they're pretty funny and fit right in with the style of the show. The third disc contains the made-for-TV documentary Goin' Down To South Park,cnn which is a humorous but mostly-accurate look at the development and animation of the show (which unlike many American cartoons is actually mostly made in North America). Unfortunately, it isn't as funny a show as the creators probably wanted it to be and while Parker and Stone are in fine form, the documentary is too showy and "MTV-style" (funky editing, changing the camera angle every 5 seconds) to be thoroughly enjoyed. Worth a look, though. Additionally, there is a music video for the full-length song, Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls, based on the episode of the same name. The song is, of course, written and sung by Issac Hayes who, since day one, has portrayed South Park Elementary School cafeteria master, 'Chef.' The presentation is minimal, but not bad. Most people may, however, have a problem with the lack of chapter stops. Each 25-minute episode is its own chapter with no breaks.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

At this point, you're either a South Park fan or you're not, and this boxed set won't change that. It will, however, make a nice collection to the fan who, like just about everyone else, was tired of those crappy "theme" sets that kept being released (out of sequence discs focusing on a character rather than complete episodes sets).


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