Comedy Central // 2005 // 308 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // February 28th, 2007
"If Tom Cruise and John Travolta don't come out the closet, I'm gonna cap this bitch!"
What do transsexuals, scientologists and Terri Schiavo have in common? Those subjects (and more) are satirized in the ninth season of the Comedy Central staple South Park. The Trey Parker-Matt Stone helmed animated show about a group of potty-mouthed fourth graders was climbing up towards its tenth season of existence, but in the absence of other milestones for Season Nine, had to spend some time writing some episodes that were funny. How did they do?
Well, the layout is nothing new for devotees of the show, 14 episodes over three discs of digital video discs. The episodes are:
* "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina"
Well, Mr. Garrison decides to finally accommodate all the speculation about him, and he decides to have a sex change operation to become a woman. The impact of his decision is massive, as Kyle is offered the chance to be black (using a "negroplasty"), but not before his dad has a "dolphinplasty." Far be it for me to infer some sort of anti-tranny message that Parker and Stone may be conveying, but there's a bit of gore in this one.
* "Die Hippie, Die"
The title's pretty self-explanatory, as Cartman decides to get rid of all the hippies. Sure, come by for the Michael Bay Armageddon nods in the episode, but stay for the larger message. You know, the one that says that the youth of today mean well when it comes to talking a good message against corporations for the people, but smoking weed and holding days-long music festivals full of crappy music isn't the way to do it.
Cartman and the boys start a talent agency with the hopes of luring Token into the fold. The story then unfolds into a battle for the rights of a semi-talented Chinese woman, with Sylvester Stallone and the Chinese mafia involved in the struggle. The stories that blow up beyond the boys' (and the audience's) expectations usually are pretty eventful, and this is another average one.
* "Best Friends Forever"
What starts as any other episode with Cartman doing whatever possible to get one of the then-new PSPs winds up being one of the better commentaries on the whole Terri Schiavo life and death debate that America was going crazy over back in 2005. Time is the only thing that impacts how good this episode is, as some of the laughs back then aren't here now, but it's still damn good.
* "The Losing Edge"
What happens when the South Park Little League team refuses to win and does anyway? Well, it's full of sports film clichés, including nostalgic songs from The Karate Kid and Rocky. Stan's dad provides the second story and it's worth a couple of chuckles, including the second act scene where he doubts himself (under a very loud piano track that is hilarious).
* "The Death of Eric Cartman"
Cartman pisses the boys off once and for all by committing the sin of eating all the skin from some carryout KFC. The boys decide to ignore him, and Cartman takes their silence (along with everyone else's) as a sign that he has died. When Butters spots him walking down the street, not only does Cartman enlist him to do his bidding, but Butters thinks he can see ghosts as a result. It's as funny as it sounds, but not funny enough to carry over the course of a whole episode.
* "Erection Day"
The South Park Talent show seems to be a shoo-in win for Jimmy and his Leno-like stand-up comedy routine, but when he discovers new things about himself, it puts his chances of winning in doubt. I'm not really sure what to think about this one, except that it wasn't that good.
* "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow"
At the time, it was a spoof of the Dennis Quaid global warming film, but it seems like a good counterbalance to An Inconvenient Truth. Oh, and throw in a half-hearted nod or two to the lack of a timely response in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and you've got an episode that could have been excellent, but unravels a little bit near the end.
Do you remember that folded paper thing that elementary school girls would create to figure out their futures? Yeah, I barely do too but it's still out there I guess, and Eric devises a plan to get one of these dangerous devices for the boys to use. The problem in the plan is that one of the steps involves faking the death of Butters. Now, the secondary story that borrows from Pet Semetary is pretty good. In fact, it's funnier than the first storyline, to tell you the truth.
* "Follow That Egg"
Mrs. Garrison conducts a class experiment where the children are paired off to learn a lesson about childcare. He decides to try and get back together with Mr. Slave, however the rug is pulled out from underneath him when Mr. Slave announces that he's getting married to Big Gay Al, pending passing of legislature approving same sex marriage. This episode handles the topic pretty well, and shows the occasional silliness of the anti-gay marriage supporters, even if the second storyline with Kyle and Stan fighting over Wendy is a bit distracting from it all.
* "Ginger Kids"
Cartman thinks that kids with red hair and freckles are pretty much the creepy versions of the human pecking order, but does he think the same thing when the tables are reversed and the boys suddenly make him a ginger? There are some chuckles in this episode, but nothing to make you fall out from laughing too hard.
* "Trapped in the Closet"
Well what's to say about it that others haven't said already? Never mind the Tom Cruise jokes, the laying out of the Scientology "religion" is downright hilarious, even if the jokes with him (and an R. Kelly appearance) are kind of boring and predictable. Hey, you won't see this again on Comedy Central, so you never know.
* "Free Willzyx"
Well, the "Free Willy" parody is pretty tiring and without too many laughs, even on the secondary story that involves animal rights and such. Move along, there's nothing to see here.
* "Bloody Mary"
Here's the other episode that (quietly) you won't hear about getting pulled from the Comedy Central lineup, and this one is great. Aside from taking on religion in general, taking on the heavy religious overtones in alcohol rehabilitation, and it's full of funny lines when Stan decides to question the people in Alcoholics Anonymous about whether alcoholism is a disease. Worth checking out for this one alone.
One has got to admire the Church of Scientology. In the midst of having "Trapped in the Closet" removed (or reduced) from the Comedy Central airing schedule, they helped breathe new life into the writers and creators of South Park that helped make Season Ten easily one of their best in the show's history. The sad thing is that the reprieve didn't creep into Season Nine, as the run of episodes produce a season that is erratic creatively, where expected jokes fall flat and inspirations for stories wind up underachieving during a time where the show's success dropped in quality, despite the 2005 Emmy that the show won (its first) during Season Nine (for "Best Friends Forever") and the 2006 Emmy that they were nominated for (for "Trapped in the Closet").
Overall, the show's DVD presentations have remained virtually unchanged for a couple of years now. In the return of the mini commentaries, at least Parker and Stone admit that they pretty much had to wing most of the season creatively. And yes, "Wing" is real, as they explain in the episode with her. Despite that valuable piece of information, even on mini commentaries, these seem even shorter than before, and almost as if they weren't in it at all. Oh well. The full screen presentation and Dolby Stereo sound options are pretty much the same as previous seasons, with a nod on the decline considering they're mostly less than two years old.
All in all, one does have to give Parker and Stone a little bit of credit. I mean, if the writing is erratic, then you can't help but watch consistently, right? And one thing's for sure; Season Eight was above average for the boys, and Season Ten was a standout. We all have our peaks and valleys I guess, some of ours are a little bit more visible than others. And while some of the topics that Season Nine covers are still relevant today (gay marriage and sex changes come to quick thought) and are handled well, but for the most part, the filler in the show is just, well, bland.
I understand that they're putting out these things in a bit of a factory environment and all, but if you're going to have a below par season, at least throw something topical on here. Let's face it, The Simpsons do it, and their sets are twice as long. Do something special for Season Ten!
Well for the sake of extending the collection, Season Nine of South Park is worth picking up, but for the more discerning fan of the show, I'd suggest getting decent copies of "Best Friends Forever," "Trapped in the Closet" and "Bloody Mary" on disc and then go from there, because the rest of the season borders on the stale side. Skip it and wait for Season Ten.
Guilty for the winging of things without a lot of thought, but Parker and Stone are free to leave the closet at anytime. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2007 Ryan Keefer; 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: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Mini-Commentaries with Trey Parker and Matt Stone
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review
* Season Six Review
* Season Seven Review
* Season Eight Review
* Bigger, Longer, Uncut Review
* Passion of the Jew Review
* Volume Two Review
* Volume Five Review
* Official South Park Site
* Comedy Central Site