Comedy Central // 2006 // 308 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // November 8th, 2006
"You wanna get high?"
The notoriously infamous Comedy Central series South Park is a show I do not watch with the regularity I used to. For the first five years, I caught it every week, but then it hit that dull spell and I briefly lost interest. The episode scheduling confused me and I couldn't remember when it was on, and now my DVR won't record it because Lost runs over to 10:01 and I also record CSI: New York. What's a guy to do?
Just the other week Entertainment Weekly did a full page spread on the tenth season premiere and said the show was in top form, as funny as ever. I'd like to watch it, but how much TV can one person do in one night? Besides, the episodes are wildly inconsistent.
Regardless of that, we have another form of release for the series. First, we had single-disc releases with four episodes, then we had complete season releases, then we had theme releases ("The Passion of the Jew"), and now we have the greatest hits release. Is all this necessary? How many variations on a theme do we need? Is this an effort to get the right product mix into fan's hands or just shameless commercialism?
Presented on this two-disc set are Trey and Matt's top ten episodes:
* "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset"
- The episode denounces the fascination of that slut, Paris Hilton.
* "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers"
- The episode mocks the ungainly popularity of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
* "Best Friends Forever"
- The episode addresses Terri Schiavo and patients in a long-term coma.
* "Good Times with Weapons"
- The episode takes a stab at the growing popularity of anime.
* "Casa Bonita"
- The episode makes Cartman more insane with his efforts to go to a Mexican restaurant.
- The episode mocks the military and its clichéd logic of turning everything into a weapon.
* "Trapped in the Closet"
- The famous episode that rips Scientology and Tom Cruise a new one.
- The episode that proves kids love video games more than anything else.
* "Red Hot Catholic Love"
- The episode that belittles the growing molestation controversy in the Catholic Church.
* "Scott Tenorman Must Die"
- The episode that turned Cartman into the most despicable child on the planet.
Upon receiving the DVDs in the mail, the first thing I did was open it up to see which ten episodes were included in this release. Out of the ten, I only immediately recognized three of them. I had two concurrent thoughts: Why don't I recognize more of them, and I thought Volume 1 would be more constrained to earlier seasons.
Surprisingly, most of the episodes that Trey and Matt picked (did they really, really pick them?) were not exclusively from the first few seasons. My faulty logic was that each volume would progress from the first season to the last, thereby instilling some kind of flow. So much for my Vulcan logic. This set is just ten episodes that the guys like.
These ten are not the best ten episodes in the series.Trey and Matt apparently like them for their vicious look at the subject (i.e. Paris Hilton, Scientology, etc) more than pure comedic value. It's satire over slapstick. There's nothing wrong with that, because they have the right to evaluate their top ten list in whatever fashion they so desire. Yet I presumed the episodes would have more of the show's deep humor.
One of the best episodes the boys ever created was the first one, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe." That story has all the hallmarks of the series and is so incredibly funny, it's in my top ten list. But it doesn't have much satire -- aside from the wickedness of cursing children -- so it's not included.
While South Park is a truly funny show, it's also decidedly inconsistent in that humor. And that inconsistency is apparent across these ten stories. Some are funny, some are cute, and some fall flat. Yet comedy is subjective; maybe you'll find them funnier. For example, I felt "Towelie" was a dumb episode when I saw it on Comedy Central, but found it much more amusing this time around. It's all in the timing. While these may be Trey and Matt's top ten episodes, they may not necessarily be yours.
That brings us to the small smattering of bonus items on this disc. Let's start with the hidden bonus item -- an item not on the packaging or on the DVD menu: the audio introductions by Trey and Matt to each episode. Using your remote, if you can pull up a list of all audio tracks, you'll see a second track, which is the aforementioned introduction. Each runs about a minute and is a quick synopsis by the boys as to why the episode was included. When I first noticed the second track, I thought it was a full commentary track, perhaps a carry over from the full season release. I was surprised -- and disappointed -- to find this meager introduction, which is probably why it isn't listed in the first place. You won't miss anything if you can't or don't listen to them. Not so hidden are the remaining items: more episodes. Included (for the first time anywhere?) is the original South Park short story, "The Spirit of Christmas," which pits Jesus against Santa, mano a mano. Any real fan has already downloaded this off the 'net, but it is a nice inclusion to finally have an official version. Rounding things out are four more bonus episodes, "It Hits the Fan," "Timmy 2000," "Fat Butt and Pancake Head," and "The Death Camp of Tolerance." (These four do not have intros by the boys.) The question is why? Are these four stories numbers 11 through 14? If they are, why do we need them? Aren't the top 10 good enough? If they're not, then aren't the top 10 good enough? I think it all boiled down to filling in the space on the second DVD.
Extremely funny, exceptionally satiric, and wonderfully crass, South Park cannot be topped when it comes to topical lampooning. The ten stories contained in this set are the top ten episodes from its amazing decade-long run, and they will make you think and make you laugh.
One question has been left dangling: is this "Top Ten Release" an admirable release that works to fulfill its audience's needs, or is just another blatant attempt by the studio to rake in a few more dollars? As a casual fan of the show I've decided against buying the full seasons on DVD -- maybe they are too pricey, or I worried about the show's inconsistency. But I have the first DVD release with four episodes and South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut and wouldn't mind owning some more episodes. As this is a "top ten" DVD release, this should be exactly what I'm looking for. It fulfills the need to have more South Park without the expense or worry of clunky episodes.
But, why settle for this hodgepodge mix of episodes? Why not pay a few bucks more for a complete season, filled with commentaries and other bonus materials? Would I agree that Trey and Matt's favorite episodes are mine? What if I later decide to pick up a full season down the road? Well, his "top ten" release has 14 episodes plus the original short, "The Spirit of Christmas." A full season of South Park is fourteen episodes and costs twice as much as this set. Thus South Park: The Hits, Volume 1 is not a blatant rip-off but a valid attempt to give fans bang for their buck.
Though a bit shaky, South Park: The Hits, Volume 1 is hereby found not guilty of libel and slander.
Review content copyright © 2006 Eric Profancik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 308 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Introduction by Trey and Matt
* "The Spirit of Christmas"
* Bonus Episodes
* Official Site