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Featured TV on DVD Review: South Park: Season 15

April 13th, 2012

South Park: Season 15 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The latest season of South Park came out on DVD and Blu-ray a few weeks ago; however, the screener arrived late. I've reviewed a number of the past few seasons for the show, and for the most part they have been... average... ish. The show has definitely jumped the shark, but there are still enough good episodes and funny jokes that it is worth checking out for most, while the more fanatical fans will want to pick it up. Does Season 15 continue this trend? Does it return to high markets seen in earlier seasons? Or does it continue to slide even further?

The Show

  1. HumancentiPad
    The iPad trend is sweeping the school and Cartman is at the heart of it. Or at least he's pretending to be. In fact, he's too poor to own an iPad. Meanwhile, the folks from Apple come to take Kyle away, as per the iTunes terms and conditions he signed without reading. Now they are going to turn him into a HumancentiPad.
    This is only an average episode for the past few seasons. There are a couple jokes that are repeated far too often (not reading the terms & conditions and Cartman yelling about being screwed). Enough works that it's worth checking out, but the season doesn't get off to a fast start.
  2. Funnybot
    Jimmy Valmer hosts a Comedy Awards, and by a total conincidence, wins a lot of awards. There were a couple of awards of note. The Germans won the Least Funny People, while Tyler Perry won the Kathy Griffin Award, which is the award given to the person most likely to show up to accept the award. As a result, the Germans create a robot to prove they are funny, while Tyler Perry refuses to leave the school. When the Funnybot becomes so popular it destroys the careers of all other comedians, the gangs decides to destroy its career.
    Again, there are too few real jokes and the ones they have are repeated too often. It's a below average episode, even for the show's past few seasons.
  3. Royal Pudding
    The kindergarten class is putting on a play about tooth decay, but when Ike misses the rehearsal, Mr. Mackey is upset, especially when he hears why. Ike wanted to stay home and watch the Canadian Royal Wedding; however, the wedding is interrupted by some strange force and the Princess is kidnapped. As a result, Ike and all other Canadians must fight to rescue her, which only makes Mr. Mackey more determined to make sure his play goes on as scheduled.
    Huh... three weak episodes in a row. I did like the commentator during the royal wedding and his calm demeanor as all hell breaks lose. But scenes went on longer than they should and it just wasn't as funny as it should have been. Perhaps if there was a deeper sense of adventure, that would have been enough to make up for the lack of jokes, but the adventure didn't work either.
  4. T.M.I.
    The results of the school physicals are posted, and this includes how much each boy has grown over the past year. However, Cartman mistakenly thinks it's a list of penis sizes. Cartman is furious, because it shows he is the smallest boy in the school in that regard. So he decides to take measurements of all the boys himself, which gets him sent to anger management... and proves he is the smallest. In fact, all of the members of the Anger Management Class have really small penises, and they take out their combined anger on the United States Government, by taking over FedEx offices nationwide.
    This is the best episode so far this season, but it would only be average for last season. I do like the sheer craziness of the episode and how it is used to poke fun at the level of political discourse we find today. The satire isn't as sharp as it has been in years past, especially given the targets available.
  5. Crack Baby Athletic Association
    While watching Terrance and Philip, Kyle and Stan see the most depressing commercial ever about crack babies. Kyle is so moved, he volunteers at a hospital. He's shocked to learn Cartman is volunteering at the hospital. He's less shocked to learn Cartman has been using the crack babies in a combat sport and posting the video clips on the internet. Cartman asks Kyle to be his accountant, because Kyle's Jewish. Kyle does accept, but has a lot of guilt about it. Will he do the right thing? Or will a jacuzzi full of KFC gravy overcome his guilt?
    Another good episode with sharp satire and a ripe target. It's not as good as the previous episode, but solid when compared to the last few seasons.
  6. City Sushi
    There's a new restaurant in South Park, City Sushi. However, not everyone is happy it is around. Tuong Lu Kim, the owner of City Wok, is particularly upset that another Asian restaurant would open in town, and he decides to get rid of it, by any means necessary. In addition to that story, Butters, for reason that are hard to explain because they are stupid, is sent to a psychiatrist, who decides Butters has multiple personalities.
    Hey, we have a winning streak. Three episodes in a row that are good, or at least good compared to the show's average for the last few seasons. It parodies several horror / suspense films very well, which is something South Park excels at. It might be the best episode of the season so far; it is close.
  7. You're Getting Old / Ass Burgers
    Stan's turning ten years old and something's changed with Stan. With his old age, he's become cynical and everything starts to look like shit... literally. This includes new music, new movie, and even his friends. Will this cynicism end before his friendships? Meanwhile, Randy is having a massive mid-life crisis and is pretending to like the new music, and even starts a Tween Wave band in order to live out his life's dream of a music career. Will he get over this before it ends his marriage?
    It seems like every season, South Park has a multi-part story that is the heart of the season. This is that story for season fifteen, although quite frankly, the two plots don't really form a cohesive whole. The first part is really good, but the second part can't match that quality level, while the ending doesn't work as well as it should.
  8. The Last of the Meheecans
    The kids are playing Texans versus Mexicans, an immigration based game, with Cartman as the leader of the Texans and Kyle as the leader of the Mexicans. (Butters was the leader, but Kyle took over right away.) Kyle is able to out think Cartman and all the Mexicans find their way home, except for Butters. Butters became lost in the woods, was hit by a car, became a Mexican servant, released to a Mexican restaurant, and then starts a Mexican Pride movement causing all the Mexicans to want to return to Mexico... and that's all before the episode is halfway over.
    This is one of the better episodes of the season and takes a relevant issue and does something new with it. It also takes the topic and mines a lot of humor out of it.
  9. Bass to Mouth
    There's a new website, Eavesdropper, which is spreading gossip about South Park elementary and one of the new stories is about a kid in fourth grade who crapped his pants. Cartman is called into the principal's office, because he previously tormented a kid into suicide, so the principal bribes him into making sure that doesn't happen this time. Meanwhile, Stan decides Eavesdropper is wrong and decides to try and figure out who is behind it and stop it.
    This is not a good episode. It starts out well with the anti-bullying story, but the connection between bullies and Wikileaks is so tenuous that it feels like two stories poorly stitched together.
  10. Broadway Bro Down
    The episode begins with Randy talking about how Tebow is the future of the Denver Broncos... Which is easily the funniest joke of the whole season. Tebow's QB rating sucked. Denver's defense won games, not Tebow. And no, throwing a pass late in the fourth quarter to score the winning touchdown is not impressive if it's the only the second pass you complete all game. ... Rant over. ... Randy learns his co-worker couldn't watch the show, because he took his wife to a musical playing in Denver. He learns from his other co-workers that taking your wife / girlfriend to a musical is a sure way to get oral sex. He tries it, and it works. It works so well, he decides to write his own musical, but instead of hiding the sexuality in the context of the show, he put it out on display, which could ruin it for all other musical writers.
    This is one of the better episodes of the season, as musical numbers are arguably what Trey Parker and Matt Stone do best. Also, Tebow really does suck.
  11. 1%
    Every elementary school in the country has to undergo a Presidential Fitness Test and South Park comes in last place. Actually, all of the students do quite well, but Cartman drags the average down so much that they finish in last place. As a result, all the students have to give up their recess till the average goes up. The students blame Cartman, for good reason, while Cartman decides blame the 99% and Obama. But while the kids hate him, it's his stuffed animals who start paying the ultimate price.
    This is a good episode when it comes to Eric Cartman's deepening insanity, but the B-plot about the 99% stuff falls flat. Since the B-plot was there to add humor to the more psychological horror stuff, are not a lot of jokes as a result. I still think it is one of the better episodes this season, but it is far from one of the funniest from the show's 15-year run.
  12. A History Channel Thanksgiving
    The gang have to write a report about Thanksgiving and Cartman suggests they just watch The History Channel to learn all about it. Unfortunately, The History Channel only cares about aliens, so they claim Aliens visited the first Thanksgiving. The gang decide to base their report on The History Channel, which attracts the attention of The History Channel, who want to interview them for their next special. During the interview, Kyle mocks them by saying it is just as likely that the Pilgrims and the Indians were both aliens. ... It turns out he's right.
    This episode starts out strong and the attacks against The History Channel are funny, but then they get into the Thor parody and it falls apart. It's below average, even for this season.
  13. The Poor Kid
    Kenny's parents are arrested on live TV and as a result, Kenny and his sisters are sent to a foster home and their new parents are strict Agnostics. (They get highly offended if any of their foster kids say they know anything.) With Kenny out of the school, Cartman is the poorest kid in school. This will not do.
    The season ends on a mixed note. On the one hand, the relationship between Kenny and his sister Karen does add some heart to the show, but that's really the only good thing about the episode. The jokes about Agnosticism weren't funny to begin with and they beat them into the ground. This is also true of the Penn States jokes. I'm not complaining about these jokes because they were offensive, but because they were poorly written. They were poorly written and also repetitive.
Make Love, Not Warcraft. That was the last episode of South Park I can remember that was an instant classic, and that was from season ten. There have been a few that came close in the previous few seasons, but none from Season 15 are among them. The best episode here, You're Getting Old is merely good. Too many episodes, like 1%, have strong elements, but fail to deliver as a whole. The average episode would be disappointing compared to even last season and there are a few that are just plain bad. Perhaps Trey Parker and Matt Stone are stretching themselves too thin.

The Extras

Every episode has a mini-commentary with Trey Parker and Matt Stone that last between three and five minutes. On Disc One, there is a 42-minute making of featurette that looks at the entire six-day process of creating a single episode of South Park. It's comprehensive and absolutely worth checking out. There are some more behind-the-scenes footage for City Sushi and also some deleted scenes.

The video and audio are good, but not great, but this is a reflection of the source material. No one is going to accuse South Park of having the most detailed animation around, but the colors are very strong, the blacks are deep, while there are no signs of compression issues. The audio is always very clear, while there are enough ambient sounds / directional effects / LRE to be worth it.

The Blu-ray does cost $8 more, which is a 25% premium. This is a good deal for TV on DVD, even with no additional extras.

The Verdict

South Park is off its game. The best episodes in Season 15 are below average when compared to episodes from just a few seasons ago and there are are no classics among the 14 episodes. That said, enough works that if you bought the previous 14 episodes, buying the DVD or the Blu-ray is probably still worth the money. However, I really hope Season 16 shows some improvement.

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