South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Uncensored
Directed by Trey Parker
Studio: Paramount/Comedy Central
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 308 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: March 10, 2009
Review Date: February 27, 2009
It’s truly impossible to believe that the irascible little characters of South Park have been practicing their own brand of mini-anarchy for twelve years now, but it‘s true. And season twelve finds the inhabitants of South Park, Colorado, no less outrageous and no less funny than they’ve ever been. As always with the series, some episodes work their magic more than others, but almost all of them have at least one or two gut-busting gags, and some are riots from beginning to end.
Eric Cartman (Trey Parker) certainly gets some prime moments in the spotlight during this season. He begins the season in a dither after learning that a faulty blood transfusion has left him HIV-positive. He masquerades as a Hispanic teacher who shows students in an inner city school how to have success (in a wicked takeoff of Stand and Deliver). And after the Summer Olympics, he’s convinced the Chinese are interested in taking over the world, so he is determined to stop them. Butters (Matt Stone) gets a couple of treasurable moments upfront this season as well. Tired of being bossed around, he becomes attracted to the “vampire lifestyle” that seems so strong and powerful to its adherents. In another episode, he (against his will) and Cartman ditch a school field trip to go to a local arcade, little knowing that the rest of his class is being held ransom by terrorists who’ve just made a major score at Burger King.
As has been the custom of past seasons, some of the more hilarious episodes this season come from the writers riffing on movies or television programs they wish to lampoon unmercifully. Among the shows that get the South Park treatment this year are Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which incorporates fall down funny spoofs of The Accused and Deliverance), Family Guy, Heavy Metal, The Grapes of Wrath, Quarantine, Cloverfield, Oceans Eleven, and High School Musical. Among the famous who find themselves on the receiving end of the South Park skewers are Britney Spears, Magic Johnson, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. There are some serious satirical points made about such topics as the power of the Department of Homeland Security, the fading in importance of the seriousness of HIV/AIDS, the Writers Guild of America strike, and our national dependence on the internet, among others. The show has never been simply about raucous shenanigans and bathroom humor (though those are certainly present), and this is the key to the program’s greatness.
If you’ve been collecting everything South Park released on DVD, you’ll no doubt notice that three of this season’s episodes (“Tonsil Trouble,” “Eek! A Penis!” “Super Fun Time”) were released in the Cult of Cartman set a few months ago. And the “uncensored” label on the box means there isn’t a bleep to be heard anywhere and nothing is pixilated. Everyone is free to curse their little hearts out without any censoring at all. Here is the rundown of the fourteen episodes on three discs that make up the season twelve box set:
1 - Tonsil Trouble
2 - Britney’s New Look
3 - Major Boobage
4 - Canada on Strike
5 - Eek! A Penis!
6 - Over Logging
7 - Super Fun Time
8 - The China Probrem
9 - Breast Cancer Show Ever
10 - Pandemic
11 - Pandemic 2: The Startling
12 - About Last Night…
13 - Elementary School Musical
14 - The Ungroundable
The program’s original 1.33:1 television broadcast aspect ratio is faithfully replicated in this box set. As usual, sharpness is excellent, and color is deeply saturated and bright, but without anamorphic enhancement, there is aliasing present, and you’ll see banding and false contouring in some of the backgrounds. Each episode is divided into 5 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track is very effective with the dialog grounded into the center channel and the right and left channels supporting music and some sound effects. There’s a nice use of bass throughout some of the episodes, too, rendering the audio mix very utilitarian for this low budget show.
Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone contribute brief audio commentaries for every episode. Usually not talking more than five minutes or so with each program, the show’s two head honchos explain their motivations for the episodes, what they feel went right or wrong, and genuinely spout their opinions about many of the topics under each episode’s scrutiny. These are not to be missed for fans of the show.
“Making Boobage: Behind the Scenes of “Major Boobage” is a 13 ¼-minute analysis of four sequences in this episode showing storyboards, concept art, live action modeling, and the finished product, inevitably being shown in a four-way split screen to show various generations of the artwork on its way to final rendering.
“Six Days to South Park: A Day-to-Day Making of South Park” is an 82 ¼-minute feature showing the progression of work on the episode “Super Fun Time” from nothing but storyboards on the first day through the second day of animatics, the third day with some of the scenes in rough rendering, the fourth day with more detailed backgrounds, the fifth day with a few black holes in the rendering with about two-thirds of the show completed, and the sixth day with the new scenes added in but still four to five minutes of animation missing less than twenty-four hours before air. The narration is by a team of animators who work on the show. Though very interesting in part, the constant replaying of the episode gets to be monotonous after the fifth or sixth go-round. Watching the animators making changes to things on their computers might have added a little variety to the feature.
“ Behind the Scenes - ‘About Last Night’” shows us the last day before air with the same animators doing audio commentary on the making of this episode. Again, with less than a day before airing there are still black holes and animatics in place of real animation yet to be completed letting us see how down-to-the-wire getting the show to air truly is. The episode here is presented in 1.78:1 nonanamorphic letterbox.
Inside the set is a coupon detailing how to get a digital copy of Season Twelve, but it’s only compatible with Windows-driven devices.
The disc offers a trailer for The Cult of Cartman.
Even the weakest episodes of South Park can generate a big laugh or two, but season twelve has very few weak episodes. A wonderful sense of the absurd and some spot-on skewering of some people and places that deserve it make the twelfth season of South Park another one to treasure. Recommended!