Comedy Central // 2006 // 208 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // August 21st, 2007
"We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."
Traditional gifts when celebrating a 10th anniversary are either tin or aluminum, while more modern gifts are usually diamond jewelry. So what did Matt Stone and Trey Parker get for their 10th anniversary of South Park's creation? They responded to unfounded accusations from a recently departed cast member, picked a fight with the latest and greatest animated TV show, and turned three of the most notorious serial killers into Moe, Larry and Curly equivalents. So how do things stack up?
You know the drill by now, the episodes highlighting the joys of Kyle, Stan, Eric and Kenny, four sweet boys who live in South Park, Colorado, are parsed out over three discs which cover the show's 2006 production schedule. The episodes are:
* "The Return of Chef"
Chef returned to South Park to kick off the season. However, he had been brainwashed into wanting to molest kids. What made this episode particularly intriguing was not only did Chef (Isaac Hayes, Hustle and Flow) leave the show at the end of the previous season, but issued a press release accusing Matt and Trey of racism while also mentioning his belief in Scientology. That's not even considering Comedy Central's decision to pull a repeat of Season Nine's "Trapped in the Closet," which discussed Scientology. Were bridges mended? Did Matt and Trey hire a Hayes sound alike? Well, they just used old sound clips of Hayes, while skewering the "religion" of Cruise, Travolta and the like. A great way to kick off the season.
* "Smug Alert!"
Kyle and his family move after Mr. Broslofski buys a hybrid car and relocates everyone to the enlightened city of San Francisco. Stan convinces everyone in South Park to buy hybrid cars, hopefully in an attempt to get his friend back home, but it triggers an environmental concern that could present a large-scale destruction. It's a witty send-up of those who discuss how environmentally concerned they are while at the same time take private jets to events.
* "Cartoon Wars"
This two-part episode is, on its own, one of the best in the show's history. The show Family Guy is shown satirizing a joke using the Islamic prophet Mohammed. However, Al-Qaeda takes great offense to the depiction, and mass protests commence in Islamic countries. The people in South Park devise a plan (which becomes widely adopted) to literally cover their heads in sand, so as to disassociate themselves from the show. Cartman is especially upset by what Family Guy is doing, but not for the reasons you might think. These two episodes stick thumbs in the eyes of Michael Bay movies, the Griffin family and cultural sensitivity, before pulling a last minute final twist that can only be described as brilliant.
* "A Million Little Fibers"
If you remember the debacle surrounding the accuracy of James Frey's "Million Little Pieces" and its place in the Oprah Winfrey Book Club of late 2005 and early 2006, then this episode is basically the same thing, except you substitute Frey for Towelie. Aside from that, there's a moderately funny subplot surrounding a turf war between parts of Winfrey's body, but it gets old after awhile.
The world's (or at least America's) newest environmental protection advocate is Al Gore, and he comes to South Park to discuss the possibly fictitious threat to the community mentioned in its title. When the boys are trapped in a cave, enter Gore to the rescue to pull them out, save for Cartman, who has found some treasure and won't leave without it. It's worth a few jabs at the focus of An Inconvenient Truth.
I'm not entirely sure who else watches the National Geographic show The Dog Whisperer, but this is the inspiration for this episode. Substitute a dog with Cartman, and you've got room for plenty of comedy. This is definitely funnier than how I'm describing it, and if the reward of an artist is the legacy they leave behind, (some parents using this same technique on their kids as Matt says in the commentary), then it's worth watching.
* "Make Love, Not Warcraft"
I can honestly say that I wasn't too familiar with World of Warcraft before this episode, and I'm not too familiar with it now, but for those who know what MMORPG's are like, this is great fun as the boys try to kill the player who can't be killed, and in the process, turn into invertebrate blobs who are unable to do a lot of basic human functions. The funny part for me personally is that I used to work with a guy who was exactly like that, but the episode is also notable for its extensive use of WoW landscapes and scenery, and is worth a higher grade based on that alone.
* "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce"
What first starts as a quest to find out who had a twosie in the boys' urinal quickly becomes a way to express Matt and Trey's "astonishment" at those who thought that Sept. 11 was an inside job. Kyle and Stan set out to exonerate Kyle for Cartman's charges that he was responsible for Sept. 11, but it becomes a far larger scale plot than anyone could have expected. Rosie O'Donnell and Charlie Sheen should watch this one.
* "Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy"
Getting this part out of the way now; I loved watching Cartman take on the persona of Dog the Bounty Hunter, along with Leland, Duane and Beth. But that was the only thing that made this one tolerable, as the teacher sex abuse angle was a long time coming, without really delivering.
* "Hell on Earth 2006"
The first really good Halloween episode in a few years gives us the return of Satan, as he has a party along the same lines of My Super Sweet 16. He dresses as Britney Spears and invites only the A-listers to his party. And the "Bloody Mary" tradition is given a new twist for those who know their fallen East Coast rappers. Throw in comedic lines from John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer -- and the delivery of a Ferrari cake -- and you've got yourself a really great installment with a wincing (yet guilty pleasure) joke.
* "Go God Go/Go God Go XII"
The wait for the Nintendo Wii has been too much to bear for Cartman, so he decides to freeze himself so the time will seem to pass quicker. That quite frankly is the funnier and more accomplished storyline, rather than the presumably larger one with Ms. Garrison falling in love with a teacher who is preaching Evolution in schools. From there, this inexplicably stretches into a second part, where the only funny thing in it was the tribute to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
* "Stanley's Cup"
This one is kind of funny, where Stan inhabits Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks and coaches the local pee wee hockey team. He manages to get a lot out of the team while getting a chance to exorcise some old ghosts, but the ending is pretty much what you'd expect it to be.
I have said, and firmly believe, that what was done during the first half of Season 10 of South Park remains some of the best, funniest, most consistent work that Matt and Trey have exhibited. OK, screw the James Frey/Towelie episode, everything from "Chef's Return" to "Tsst" wound up being hilarious stuff.
Imagine my surprise though when in listening to the four to five minute commentaries on each episode by Matt and Trey when they said it was quite stressful to be in the news week after week. First off, you had the hubbub surrounding the conflict between the Church of Scientology, Comedy Central/Paramount, and the fine folks behind South Park. The boys were clearly hurt by the accusations that Hayes levied, but perhaps correctly assumed that the press release was written by those other than Hayes himself. From there, you go into the two "Cartoon Wars" episodes. There were so many different layers on those episodes, everyone seemed to just camp on one aspect of it, which was disconcerting to them to some degree. However, they did state that they got a lot of good word of mouth from staff members of other animated shows on Fox regarding their opinions of Family Guy.
But it's the timely response that was shown not only in "Chef's Return," but the way they tied "Cartoon Wars" together, that made for truly funny and inspired work, instant classics among the series history. And when they came back, they did a spoof of a very popular computer game (I swear, I used to work with a guy who looked just like that), mocking those severe conspiracy theorists and a really bad MTV show, much to my wife's disagreement.
Considering we're on Season 10 of South Park, there's very little mystery or surprise to gain when you watch these on DVD. They look and sound the same as when they originally aired, and in terms of the usual "mini-commentaries," I've covered their highlights. The only other thing worth mentioning is that because of the Warcraft episode, there's a trial CD included with the DVDs, a thoughtful touch to be sure.
Trey and Matt talk about these writer's retreats, or these forums they attended an awful lot. Why not throw a camera on these things to see what's going on? There's only so much you can gleam by looking at their Web site, but past that, there's nothing to be had outside of the material itself. But hey, they've put out everything on DVD now, so bully to them.
In its 10th season, South Park teed them up and knocked them out of the park. The episodes are funny, multidimensional, and included a significant breath of creativity which reinvigorated the show. If you're new to the show, this is a pretty good place to start. Otherwise, if you've seen and bought the shows before, go get this already!
Tsst! Tsst, tsst!
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Scales of Justice
* All-Time Most Popular: #9
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 208 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Mini-Commentaries with Trey Parker and Matt Stone
* World of Warcraft Trial CD
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review
* Season Six Review
* Season Seven Review
* Season Eight Review
* Season Nine Review
* Bigger, Longer, Uncut Review
* Passion of the Jew Review
* Volume Two Review
* Volume Five Review
* Official South Park Site
* Comedy Central Site