South Park season 11 DVD review

Season 11 finds the residents of South Park in exceptional form, with there being a case for the finest episode of the show ever within...

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I’ve had a difficult time reviewing things for the DoG recently. It’s difficult to write positive reviews which are still entertaining. Writing reviews of mediocre films is just as tricky. It’s all well and good to list the strengths and weaknesses of something, but to do so whilst getting a few laughs or even raising the odd smirk isn’t so simple. To tear something bad to pieces is easy and I could write negative reviews all day. But then I think it would be depressing to focus on complaining all day and it would lose all meaning. If I said everything was bad people wouldn’t feel my reviews meant anything because I would eventually insult everything they loved.

So, asides from having problems with coherent introductions, my primary problem with reviewing things is trying to keep my product consistently engaging and entertaining, regardless of the subject. Which is how I’m going to segue into my South Park review.

Eleven seasons in and South Park is as funny and innovative as it has ever been. It’s relevant and it’s topical. It still makes the news, it still causes controversy. Most importantly, it’s still one of the funniest shows on television. It’s consistent.

The season starts with a strong run of episodes that touch on some of the major issues that effect our society; racism, sexual orientation, environmentalism, terrorism and religion. Of course, this being South Park the issues are handled through stories about game shows, a camp where kids can ‘pray the gay away’, head lice, Hillary Clinton’s vagina and a secret society of Easter Bunnies.

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Of this first run, which make up the first disc of the set, ‘Lice Capades’ stands out as one of the strongest episodes. It centres on a colony of head lice on one of the children’s heads and how they react when their world is destroyed by that special shampoo that smells terrible but apparently kills them dead. It plays out like a Bruckheimer action movie, which is typical of the show’s refusal to become formulaic and repetitive as it progresses into its later series.

As the season progresses the episodes slightly dull their social barbs. Fortunately, they remain just as funny. ‘D Yikes’ sees the gender-confused Ms Garrison fight to save the bar Les Bos from Persian investors. ‘Le Petit Tourette’ sees Cartman finding a ‘golden ticket’ of freedom to say what ever he wants. Season finale ‘The List’ is about the girls making a list ranking the boys in order of cutest to ugliest. This episode feels so authentic and is made all the funnier for the kids near identical physical appearances.

The two strongest stand alone episodes from the second half of the set are ‘More Crap’ and ‘Guitar Queer-O’. ‘More Crap’ sees Randy (Stan’s Dad and probably the best character in the show) break the record for the largest crap in the world. It’s about as low brow as the show gets, but I challenge any male to deny being able to relate to Randy’s pride in his, umm, achievement? Plus it reveals the truth (which I’ve long suspected) about Bono. ‘Guitar Queer-O’ is about the Guitar Hero game that has become so popular recently. There’s a great moment where Randy attempts to impress the kids with his ability to play a real guitar only to be told that it’s gay.

The real highlight of this season is the three-part episode ‘Imaginationland’. In this trilogy, terrorists attack our imagination and we are unable to get imagination back under control. This runs alongside the b-story of Cartman trying to get Kyle to suck his balls. It’s mentioned in the commentary track that the idea had originally been considered for a second South Park movie. Whilst we can only imagine how great that would have been, these three shows are no small compensation. They’re arguably the best episodes the show has ever produced.

So, the review’s a little gushing and not particularly funny. There’s room for me to improve. It’s hard to know how South Park is going to be able to even maintain this high standard for much longer. But I wouldn’t bet against the show getting even better.

Extras

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Asides from a few brief scenes from other Comedy Central shows (although these are basically adverts, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report), the sole extra feature on this set is the commentary minis. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker offer between three and five minutes commentary on each episode. These offer a decent insight into how the episodes are made in a week. Parker and Stone apparently don’t enjoy recording the tracks and so it seems a decent compromise between full commentaries and nothing at all. Plus, eleven series in it’s hard to know what they would be able to talk about for five hours.

Episodes:

5 out of 5
Extras:
3 out of 5

Rating:

4 out of 5