|South Park - The Complete Second Season|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 29 June 2004|
As the first season of “South Park” came to a close with a thrilling cliffhanger, leaving millions of fans wondering who Eric Cartman’s real father was, the pressure was really on for creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to prove that they were not just one-hit wonders. In a move of twisted comedic genius, the first episode of the second season of “South Park” threw viewers for such a curve ball that it had those who thought they loved the show furious, baffled and in shock. Many months had passed since Season One ended. The first season’s shows had been repeated ad nauseam on Comedy Central and it was finally time to learn who impregnated Cartman’s mom at the Drunken Barn Dance many years ago. However, what the creators showed instead was a full 30-minute episode devoted to the Canadian comedy team Terrance and Phillip, whose primary source of dialogue comes from finding inventive ways to fart in each other’s faces. It strategically aired on April Fools Day in 1998.
After a huge backlash by infuriated fans who hated the Terrance and Phillip episode, the show resumed as normal. Over the next 17 episodes, the backlash over the April Fools prank was quickly forgotten. It became quite apparent that “South Park” was not just a flash in the pan. The show was funnier, wittier, cruder and just plain better in the second season as Stone and Parker began to find their groove as writers, despite tremendous pressure to keep besting themselves. Classic episodes such as Mr. Mackie’s stint with drugs when he is fired for losing the Mara-ja-wanna that was passed around the classroom during a drug education lecture had all my friends and co-workers using the famous catch phrase, “Umm-kay”. Cartman, dressed as a police officer, introduces his famous “Respect my authoritah!!!” as he dons a badge to help in Officer Barbrady’s absence while on the search for a chicken molester that looks suspiciously like magician Doug Henning.
The plots get even more twisted as the boys mistake circumcision for castration in the episode “Ike’s Wee Wee” and Chef starts up a food business selling his “chocolate Salty Balls,” complete with their own theme song. Sony Music released a compilation CD based on the episode “Chef Aid,” where the South Park kids helped Chef defend himself against Alanis Morissette’s record company, which stole his song “Stinky Britches” and didn’t give him any money for it. A companion video for “Salty Balls” is included on the third disc as a bonus feature. Using clips from the first and second seasons of the show, this video highlights how different the show looked from the first season to the second. In the beginning, the characters were literally made out of construction paper that was cut out and moved by hand, frame by frame by Stone, Parker and a small handful of animators. With a bigger budget, bigger staff and more pressure on the team to produce shows, the animation process was handled by more advanced computers in the second season. The episodes still maintained the look of being done by hand, but they’re much slicker when compared to the old footage.
In a hilarious episode at the end of the season, when a “prehistoric man” from the year 1996 is found in 1999, Steve the caveman escapes from Dr. Mophesto’s laboratory, but doesn’t understand the world around him, even though he’s only been frozen in ice for three years. In the window of a department store, Steve sees Marilyn Manson, dressed in his “Mechanical Animals” clothing with red hair, signing a Goth version of “Stinky Britches” on MTV. Steve goes berserk, breaking windows and smashing TVs. As on any great TV comedy, such as “The Simpsons,” making references to past shows is always a funny piece of comedic schtick, and Stone and Parker take this to an extreme by having a “flashback” episode only 20 shows into the series’ existence. However, as the kids recall the episodes, the stories all get twisted so that they end up eating ice cream and saying “that sure was a sticky situation,” poking fun at cheesy sitcom dialogue.
The hilarious episodes just keep on coming as Cartman is knocked out while riding a bull and becomes Ming Lee, a Vietnamese prostitute who offers everyone “sucky sucky long time soldier boy” for only $5. In one particularly crude but funny episode, the adults of South Park decide that they need to give their kids chicken pox early so that they will all be immune in the future. The kids catch word of this and decide to take matters into their own hands by hiring a hooker with herpes to sleep with as many of the parents that she can and use their toothbrushes. Make no mistake – “South Park” doesn’t air at 10 PM on a cable network for no reason. This is an adult cartoon all the way.
If you’ve already seen all of the episodes of the show, the most entertaining feature of this three-disc set is the documentary titled “Going Down to South Park.” I had seen much of this footage in the “Canned Ham” special that Comedy Central did to promote the 1999 release of the “South Park” feature film “Bigger Longer & Uncut.” However, the documentary on the disc features a great deal of different footage and is totally uncensored. Sitting in hot tub high in the Hollywood hills, presumably at either Parker or Stone’s house, the dynamic duo of colored cardboard cut-out animation have an Asian pool boy sitting behind them throughout the entire documentary just for bizarre comedic effect. They discuss everything from the origins of the show to handling the fame and fortune that has come with the show’s success to the trials and tribulations of trying to pitch their movie “Orgazmo,” a story about a Mormon Missionary who ends up starring in porn films to raise money for his wedding. We come to find out how Stone and Parker bonded in a beginning filmmaking class in Colorado after discovering their mutual love of Monty Python and their shared lack of interest in making artsy movies. We see the early work they did even before the famous “The Spirit of Christmas” short film they were commissioned to do for $700 by an executive at Fox to use as a personal Christmas card. Isaac Hayes talks about getting the part of Chef and we meet the late Mary Kay Bergman who did virtually all of the female voices on the show until her untimely death in 1999. The documentary provides a tour of the “South Park” Santa Monica, California offices, introducing us to the producers, editors, audio engineers and many of the other people who are responsible for making the machine known as “South Park” run.
If you are a die-hard fan of “South Park,” then it is an absolute must that you have this DVD. The transfer is bright, vibrant and better than I’ve ever seen the show look, especially due to the fact that I tend to watch it off of TiVo 99% of the time. The Dolby Digital audio track is crisp and coherent. The bonus features are the only part of the three-disc set that is lacking in any way, but the making-of “South Park” documentary is so funny and well done that I didn’t feel cheated. Get to your local DVD retailer and relive one of the best seasons of one of the funniest and most cutting-edge comedies ever to hit the small screen.