Comedy Central // 2011 // 308 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // March 23rd, 2012
2011 was a banner year for Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The Book of Mormon cleaned up at the Tony Awards and they were the toast of Broadway. After the hoopla settled, all they got was a mere two weeks off before getting back to the episodic grind of South Park's fifteenth season.
There's not a lot to say about South Park that hasn't already been said a thousand times. This is a show that doesn't test boundaries so much as it smashes them under its feet on its way to eat Tokyo. Trey and Matt are quite up front about it: "Now people just shrug and say, 'Hey, it's South Park.'" As a result, they now have open license to do whatever they want. The only problem is, any message they want to send often gets lost for the same reason.
South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season is made up of fourteen episodes that cover a fairly extensive range of topics, full of the usual parodies and cultural references. Though fleeting, there are even moments of genuine emotion. Which is too bad, because some of these storylines could have been really special. Just not the first one.
* "Humancetipad" -- To be fair, this episode does have a great premise. Kyle whizzes through the iTunes agreement and clicks "Accept" without reading it (truthfully, who does?), unwittingly giving Apple permission to do anything they want with him. Unfortunately, Trey had recently watched The Human Centipede and determined there are few things more degrading than having one's mouth surgically attached to another person's anus. Soon Kyle is stuck to a man's backside while a woman is attached to Kyle's. I still feel ill from watching this one.
* "Funnybot" -- Jimmy decides to put together South Park's first annual Comedy Awards, but his award for "The Least Funny People in the World" pisses off the Germans, who retaliate by creating Funnybot, which quickly takes over as the best comedian on the planet. The funny part is how unfunny Funnybot really is.
* "Royal Pudding" -- A spoof of 2011's royal wedding, as the Canadian prince prepares to take a bride. When she's kidnapped at the altar ("Not part of tradition"), it's up to Ike to mount a rescue. Alas, that means he isn't available to play the key role of Tooth Decay in Mr. Mackey's school play.
* "T.M.I." -- When Cartman mistakes a student growth chart for one of penis size, a bruised ego forces him to measure every boy in school, which in turn lands him in anger management class. This one includes several different formulas for measuring one's manhood, so be sure to have a protractor handy.
* "Crack Baby Athletic Association" -- Kyle is sucked into the world of crack baby basketball, a YouTube sensation started by -- who else? -- Eric Cartman.
* "City Sushi" -- Another decent premise: A sushi place opens right next door to South Park's only Chinese restaurant, leading to the realization that no one in town can tell the difference between the two cultures ("...townspeople are officially naming this whole Chinatown area 'Little Tokyo!'"). The second storyline is also funny: Butters is mistakenly diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder, after he is observed playing by himself. It's where these two plots meet that this episode loses steam.
* "You're Getting Old" -- The first of two episodes dealing with Stan's new cynical outlook on life. Turning 10, Stan discovers everything he used to like now "seems like shit." This is demonstrated by everything he hears sounding like a fart, every food looks like poop, and even his friends look like walking turds.
* "Ass Burgers" -- The second episode don Stan's dilemma becomes a spoof of The Matrix. Discovering the Secret Society of Cynics -- who insist the world really is crap -- Stan needs to undergo a special treatment in order to interact with the "fake" world. This involves sucking down large quantities of Jameson Irish Whiskey. A bittersweet episode, this is my favorite of the season because it involves actual pathos. Though don't look for any characters to act differently in future episodes.
* "The Last of the Meheecans" -- A game of Texans vs. Mexicans -- wherein one group of boys tries to keep the other group from crossing a pretend border -- becomes real after Butters gets lost and ends up in Mexico. There he becomes a folk hero and inspires the Mexican immigrants in the US to head back home.
* "Bass to Mouth" -- The website Eavesdropper keeps everyone up-to-date on all the gossip from South Park Elementary...which is great until it becomes personal. The culprit turns out to be a gerbil named Wikileaks, and only his brother (the retired Lemmiwinks) can stop him. Another uneven episode. Cartman's dealings with the school staff are priceless, as is the staff's literal interpretation of 'throw him under the bus,' but the spirit guide reprise from Season Six's "The Death Camp of Tolerance" feels hokey.
* "Broadway Bro Down" -- When Randy discovers the subtextual secret behind Broadway musicals, he and his delighted wife are taking in every show they can find. It doesn't take long before Randy decides to write his own musical, but his concept of "subtext" is a lot more overt than Broadway's biggest composers would like. This episode is notable for the heartbreaking relationship between Sheila and Larry Feegan.
* "1%" -- Cartman's extreme weightiness drags down the school's average fitness level to the point where South Park Elementary is labeled the un-fittest school in America. Jimmy and Butters form the 99% Club to protest the inequality. In the meantime, Cartman discovers his stuffed animals are being systematically destroyed.
* "A History Channel Thanksgiving" -- Miles Standish stars in a weird Thor parody, as Kyle's half-assed Thanksgiving homework assignment convinces the people at History Channel that he is an expert on alien technology. Soon he's being recruited to connect with a distant planet where the galaxy's stuffing supply is in danger.
* "The Poor Kid" -- Kenny may have been relegated to secondary status (Butters and Jimmy both get more airtime this season), but he finally gets a spotlight moment when his parents are arrested and he's sent to an agnostic foster home. Abruptly deprived of teasing the poorest kid in school, Cartman tries to pinpoint Kenny's replacement, only to discover he's now the school's poorest kid. This one's filled with continual Penn State jokes that are already dated.
South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season (Blu-ray) looks and sounds great. Presented in 1:78:1/1080p AVC-encoded high definition, the episodes feature a clear picture with bright, basic colors. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio mix doesn't stray much from the center channel...ever. In both cases, the HD upgrade is overkill; simple art and lack of ambient sound make the enhanced a/v superfluous. Unless you're just a Blu-ray fanatic, you'll be just as happy with the standard definition DVD release.
Extras include two "6 Days to Air" featurettes. The first, "The Making of South Park," details the six days it took to create "Humancetipad," and the second is a short behind-the-scenes look at some of the things that went into making "City Sushi." There are also "mini-commentaries" on every episode, wherein Trey and Matt give details about how they came up with the story ideas. A handful of deleted scenes round out the bonus package.
You know what you're getting with South Park. Season Fifteen is gross, hilarious, and bizarre, as polarizing as any show in existence. If you love it, this is a must-buy. If you hate it, you probably aren't even reading this review.
Guilty of many things, but that hasn't stopped them yet.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 308 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site