Judge Eric Profancik struggles to make sense of this top ten compilation.
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 Fourteenth Season (Blu-ray) (published May 1st, 2011), 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 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.
"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?
Facts of the Case
Presented on this two-disc set are Trey and Matt's top ten episodes:
• "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset"
• "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two
• "Best Friends Forever"
• "Good Times with Weapons"
• "Casa Bonita"
• "Trapped in the Closet"
• "Red Hot Catholic Love"
• "Scott Tenorman Must Die"
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.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
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.
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