Judge Ike Oden is Cthulhu's favorite pet.
Our reviews of Christmas Time In South Park (published November 28th, 2007), South Park: The Complete First Season (published April 7th, 2003), South Park: The Complete Second Season (published March 8th, 2004), South Park: The Complete Third Season (published January 14th, 2004), South Park: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 19th, 2004), South Park: The Complete Fifth Season (published February 23rd, 2005), South Park: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 11th, 2005), South Park: The Complete Seventh Season (published March 21st, 2006), South Park: The Complete Eighth Season (published August 29th, 2006), South Park: The Complete Ninth Season (published February 28th, 2007), South Park: The Complete Tenth Season (published August 21st, 2007), South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season (published August 12th, 2008), South Park: The Complete Fifteenth Season (Blu-ray) (published March 23rd, 2012), South Park: A Little Box Of Butters (published October 13th, 2010), South Park: Imaginationland (published March 24th, 2008), South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season (published March 9th, 2009), South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season (Blu-Ray) (published March 10th, 2009), South Park: The Cult Of Cartman: Revelations (published October 1st, 2008), South Park: The Hits, Volume 1 (published November 8th, 2006), South Park: The Passion Of The Jew (published September 13th, 2004), South Park, Volume 2 (published January 21st, 2000), and South Park, Volume 5 (published January 21st, 2000) are also available.
"We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them."—Revolution Muslim web writer Abu Talhah al Amrikee on South Park's 200th episode.
Barring mock news shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report, South Park is television's most prominent source of up-to-date satire. Politics, sports, pop culture—if it's worth talking about, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker will chew it up and spit it out in a thoughtful and thoroughly tasteless manner. Even more charming is the show's range of comedic fodder, which manages to work in everything from Lovecraftian Elder Gods and substance abusing towels, to a porn addicted Jesus Christ.
But not everything is up for grabs. When a two-part episode jokes about threatening to show the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the two hit a nerve with some cut-rate Muslim extremists, who answered back with the aforementioned death threat (see: The Charge). If you somehow missed this headline grabbing moment, Theo van Gogh was a Dutch documentarian murdered by an extremist for his short documentary on violence against Muslim women. This caused panic within Comedy Central's ranks, who censored any reference to the religious figure within the episode. South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season arrives on Blu-ray censored, but still standing. Regardless of bleeps, it is one of the finest season's in the show's long history.
Facts of the Case
All fourteen Season 14 episodes are presented on two Blu-ray discs…
• "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs"
• "Medicinal Fried Chicken"
• "You Have 0 Friends"
• "Crippled Summer"
• "It's a Jersey Thing"
• "Coon 2: Hindsight"
• "Mysterion Rises"
• "Coon Vs. Coon and Friends"
• "Crème Fraiche"
Season 14 is notable for its emphasis on multi-part story arcs. While the show often faltered under the weight of previous epic plots (e.g. "Imaginationland"), both "200" and "201 and "The Coon" trilogy stand tall among the series' greatest episodes. What's most amazing about these arcs is the sheer amount of genuinely great writing on display, censored or not.
First up are the infamous "200" and "201" episodes. Designed to act like "best of" clip shows without the lazy repetition of old clips, Stone and Parker rely heavily on callbacks to the show's most wildly popular storylines and characters, building upon series mythology in typically chaotic, action-heavy style. These episodes manage to expand upon one the show's most long unanswered questions: the true identity of Cartman's father. Our big-boned hero is aided on his journey by former Vietnam vet/con artist/hand puppet, Mitch Connor, a character that's easily among the most hilarious personas in Cartman's fractured psyche (Connor's Platoon-style Vietnam flashback must be seen to be believed).
Sadly, Connor and Cartman's subplot is the only thing that remains uncensored in "201," the arc's second part that's butchered by Comedy Central's bleeping of dialogue every time Muhammad is spoken about. This includes bleeping out the episode's climactic morality speech, delivered by Stan. The episode is prefaced by a series of title cards explaining that the bleeps were not intended as a Meta joke on the audience, but a mini-commentary by Stone and Parker that includes two minutes of an extended, clearly sardonic censoring that brings this claim into question.
Stone and Parker are infamous for perpetrating hoaxes on their audience, making excessive amounts of deliberate bleeping (most obscenities are bleeped, too) not out of the question. Intentional or not, the choice kills the jokes (even in the commentary), leaving Cartman's storyline to pick up the slack, which it totally does. I just wish the rest of the episode had a chance.
"The Coon Returns," "Mysterion Rises," and "Coon Vs. Coon and Friends" creates a compelling trinity that, along South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, is among the best character work Stone and Parker have managed to date. The episode skewers BP's oil spill in the gulf (the company and its critics), and builds toward the more important exploration of Kenny and Cartman's super heroic alter egos. In the process, the show finally addresses the issue of Kenny's immortality, explaining how he's continually kept returning from the grave despite being brutally killed in almost every episode.
One of the most important aspects here is that Kenny, a largely mute character, is given voice by Mysterion. Through this convention, the details of Kenny's abilities reveal him as the most complex and tragic character on South Park, not to mention something of a total badass. The ideas behind Mysterion would make a fine superhero property outside of the show, but Stone and Parker fit him perfectly into the mythology, making Mysterion a most ingenious piece of fan service. I never thought integrating Cthulhu and his minions would ever be the icing on the cake of any storyline, but they're overshadowed by Kenny/Mysterion's struggle, as evidenced by their hilariously flippant vanquishing in "Coon Vs. Coon & Friends."
While the multi-part episodes are the set's greatest accomplishment, the single episodes accompanying them are just a good. Well, mostly.
"Sexual Healing" is a fine take on the media's hypocritical attitude toward rich men cheating on their spouses. Tiger Woods' tabloid-reported actions are among the funniest jokes here, playing out through the context of a Tiger Woods video game.
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" and "Crème Fraiche" represent the season's more Randy centric episodes, which always deliver. The beauty of Randy lies in the fact he reaffirms every sad assumption society ever had about middle class, middle-aged fathers, making Homer Simpson look like Ward Cleaver by comparison. Whether he's masturbating to the Food Network or microwaving his testicles, Randy never disappoints.
"Poor and Stupid" is a classic Cartman episode, refreshingly mocking common perceptions of NASCAR and its fans, without ever taking shots at the sport itself (itself a far too easy target). Like every Cartman episode, it has a rise-and-fall story that ends with the joke on him. A healthy dose of Vagisil humor doesn't hurt anything either.
"You Have 0 Friends" parodies Tron (many months before Tron: Legacy was garnering mainstream buzz), analogizing the film's rogue program plotline with Facebook's meteoric rise. It's a nerdy treat, boasting some especially fine digital animation.
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" is the season's one Butters-centric episode. Butters has been a fifth member of The Boys gang for some time now, sharing equal screen time with Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan. Thank God, as he remains, without a doubt, the most consistently funny member of the group, through his meek personality and blind naiveté. Butters' accidental ascension to best-selling author sharply pokes fun at the literary world, while America's over-analysis of titles like "Scrotie McBoogerballs" and "The Poop That Took A Pee" puts those all-too-serious pop culture critics (like me) in their place.
"It's A Jersey Thing" starts out as a predictable indictment of the self-absorbed subjects of Jersey Shore but crescendos into a literal war against celebration of "Jersey" behavior. Did I mention Snooki is a rat monster that rapes Butters and Cartman? Yeah, that's there, too.
"Crippled Summer" is the oddball adventure of the set, combining a Meatballs-style summer camp story (the setting is Camp Tardica, for the mentally disabled) with Looney Tunes-style characters (the disabled kids) and Towelie's struggle with drug addiction. All of this is framed in the style of HBO's Intervention. Even for South Park, it's a kitchen sink episode, one that works in spite of itself. It has my vote for the absolute funniest of the set, but that might have something to do with the inclusion of a mating Lake Shark.
Unfortunately, "Insheeption" gets my vote as not only Season 14's worst episode, but one of the worst in the show's storied history; a spoof of Inception perpetrated by two guys who didn't really get the point of the film (In the commentary, Trey admits to having not even seen it). I have no problem with South Park mocking Christopher Nolan's film, but the way they go about it (combining the original plotline with a spoof of Hoarders) is forced and juvenile. The funniest joke has one of the scientists singing Inception's iconic theme during convoluted exposition, but that's about all the episode has going for it. Well, an appearance by Freddy Krueger is also pretty clever.
Despite the censoring of "201," Comedy Central does a typically solid job with the Blu-ray. The 1080p full HD video looks stunning, with an exquisite color palette and incredibly crisp animation. It isn't perfect, though. During "Crippled Summer" the video briefly lags, creating a strange split where the video freezes on the top and bottom of the screen. It lasts for fraction of a second and evens out for the remainder of the episode, making it a minor flaw at best. The TrueHD 5.1 mix sounds crystal clear, a very basic track with solid details, but nothing that'll knock your socks off.
Extras are standard for a South Park season. Mini-commentaries for each episode by Matt and Trey are a ton of fun, if all too short (some are only two minutes long). The guys mostly discuss the origins of every show, before getting bored and moving onto the next. Deleted scenes are also included, as well as a bonus Season 13 episode, "The Coon."
As South Park grows older, I am amazed at how consistently funny and cutting edge it remains. I'm happy to say Season 14 manages to exceed expectations, nailing its topical targets between the eyes, nine times out of ten, in fresh and hilarious ways. South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season is well worth the fans' time and money on Blu-ray.
Definitely not poor and stupid.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Mini Commentaries
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