HTF REVIEW: SOUTH PARK - the complete third season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by DaViD Boulet, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
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    the complete third season
    Studio:ParamountYear:1999-2000Program Length:Seventeen Episodes @25 minutes each Aspect Ratio:4x3 encoded 1.33:1 (OAR)Audio:2.0 DD English (ProLogic encoded), Spanish Mono, Stereo FrenchExtras:Commentary by Trey Parker and Matt Stone ReleaseDate:Available (December 2003)

    The Show...

    If you didn’t know already, South Park is an often brilliant, always offensive, and at times a subversive animated series. Think of the Simpsons hijacked by a perverted script-writer. Is it potty humor? Are the jokes from the gutter? Lots of bad words? Offensive to almost anyone belonging to an ethnic minority group, holding strong religious beliefs, or with a non-traditional sexual orientation?

    Of course. Though South Park suitably offends members of majority groups just as effectively [​IMG]

    Season Three brings you a veritable cornucopia of classics from which to choose: Quintessential episodes like “Rainforest Shmainforest” dig deep at the heart of environmental issues. Fabled gems like “Sexual Harassment Panda” grapple with the complex moral issues of our corrupt legal system while veritable odysseys such as “Chinpoko Mon” reveal the human condition and how susceptible it is to falling pray to marketing fads in following the crowd (Alabama Man lands me on the FLOOR with laughter EVERY time). Yes folks, looking for guidance? Lost your way? Trying to sift through this confusing world that presents you with a myriad of paths while you flounder with no sense of direction? Drop your therapist and pick up South Park…the complete third season...

    Respect my AUTHORITAH!

    It would just be another pass-it-by shock-value cartoon except for one thing: Trey and Matt have assembled all the pieces, in my humble opinion, into something you might not have expected to find: something intelligent. And in this age of air-filled programs like gratuitous reality TV shows and puke-your-guts-out daredevil stunts, intelligence is just what we need. Brute honesty that’s refreshing --Thanks South Park. [​IMG]

    Packaging & Presentation…

    South Park Season Three comes to you in that Simpson’s style cardboard fold-out case. Graciously, the episode listings are printed right there on the inside fold-out cover so you don’t have to fumble with booklet to try to locate the show you want to watch. No more than six episodes appear on any of the three dual-layer DVD discs (good for compression) and there’s nice silkscreen art letting you, at the very least, know which way is “up” when you drop your DVD into the tray of your DVD player. There is also an outer cardboard sleeve (again, in Simpson’s style) that the fold-out case can slide into to help keep things in place on the DVD shelf.


    South Park has been the foster child of DVD series…Having first been released as single discs by Comedy Central (if my memory is correct…you guys correct me if I’m wrong) which brought us part way through the second season, then Warner got the rights and, after first frightening fans by only doing a few haphazard “best of” (shuuuder) single-release DVDs, released the first and second seasons in box-sets, and NOW for Season Three Paramount has landed the prize.

    Why am I telling you all of this in the “picture quality” section? Because all previous (especially the Warner) incarnations of South Park on DVD have suffered noticeably from compression artifacting. I’m please to announce that this Season Three set from Paramount had succeeded where others have failed. Season free is gloriously free from any egregious MPEG artifacting/noise that I can (or in this case, can’t) find.

    Ok, before you decide to pull out your South Park Season Three reference-disc to show off your new DLP projector to your neighbors…understand what we’re dealing with: Similar to the Simpsons early series (at some point I’ll stop mentioning the Simpsons I promise) these episodes were “mastered” in the video realm on equipment that was…well…NTSC. This means that built-into the picture are artifacts like scan-line aliasing and “twitter” on fine horizontal detail. You’ve even got dot-crawl on your screen for a few scenes here and there that must have taken a trip though composite-video land and back again. But ya know, it’s *TV* and it’s part of the “look” of the show. It’s the way it is. The good news is now there’s no glaring MPEG2 noise standing between you and the source to obscure those aliasing and dot-crawling details [​IMG]

    Colors are bold and generally noise-free (surprising given the production level) and contrast/blacks are strong. Details average to slightly above average but won’t fool any casual on-looker into thinking they’re watching an HD image. Hey…if you want to see how good South Park animation really *can* look when not compromised from the source…get South Park the Movie…bigger, longer, and uncut [​IMG]

    Bottom line on picture quality is that despite the obvious flaws in the source material, I found it oh-so-satisfying to finally watch a South Park episode that was free from that layer of digital haze that comes with poor compression. Given the challenges of the source material and my grateful appreciation to Paramount for showing the other foster-parent studios (who had their shot at doing a decent job and blew it) how to properly compress a South Park Cartoon I’d give the PQ a 5 out of 5. But I do need to temper the score given the objective artifacts inherent in the source material which are NOT the fault of DVD mastering:

    Picture: 3.5 / 5

    note: that’s a very affectionate 3.5 out of 5. South Park looks just as it should…no better, no worse!


    Ya know, the 2.0 ProLogic encoded English soundtrack ain’t bad. Pretty decent frequency response. Clear dialog. Nice dynamics. Occasional but sparse surround activity. Your sub won’t rattle and your tweeters won’t sizzle but neither will you find yourself dissatisfied. Decent job—clearly commensurate with the quality of the source soundtrack stems.

    French and Spanish tracks are clearly inferior…listen to them only if you must.

    Sound: 4/ 5

    Special Features...

    Make that “Feature”. Don’t get excited. I know you read “Commentary” in the specs and might be thinking “finally!” given the debacle that befell the commentary that was originally to have appeared on the Warner Set. Well…apparently Matt and Trey are feeling a bit uninspired because, as they tell you themselves in the commentary track on the very first episode, they’ve decided to just limit their commentary to a few minutes at the beginning of each episode. We’re talking like five minutes or so per episode.

    I found the commentary somewhat interesting…talking about things like the actors doing voice-overs and challenges with getting episodes completed while they were working on the feature film. Also some trivia about the inspirations for some of the stories and plot twists in various episodes. You’ll decidedly *not* wet your panties but I leave it up to you decide how “worthy” the commentary is. Hey…since this disc is out let’s hear some discussion!

    What else…

    Hmmm. Nothing? Well, shock of shocks…you mean Paramount didn’t load this set with oodles and oodles of extras and special features for the fans? [​IMG]

    Note to Paramount: You’d probably sell many more South Park sets if you dared to supply a few more enticing tid-bits in the special-features menu (no, chapter stops don’t count).


    Typical for Paramount, they’ve delivered another DVD with picture quality faithful to the source, well mastered audio, and a dearth of special features. While I am disappointed in the lack of extras, I’m glad that Paramount has managed to provide a commentary track and I’m thrilled that they’ve raised the bar for the DVD-video mastering for this series; I have South Park – the complete third season nestled proudly on my DVD shelf.

    If I could take a handful of TV series with me to a desert island…mixed in with Farscape and Fraggle Rock would have to be South Park. Downright offensive and extraordinarily intelligent, South Park is one of the better animated “adult” oriented programs available. Personal tastes will vary, and South Park is not for everyone. But it’s definitely for me and very well might be for you too.

    Screw you guys...I'm going home...[​IMG]
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

    Apr 22, 2003
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    David, I enjoyed this review, and I enjoy this set also. I like the commentary-minis as Matt and Tray call them, a lot of information but a sense of longing for more. But hey, if Matt and Tray say that they hate it when commentaries run for 25 minutes with 5 minutes of talking all totaled and they didn't want to run that risk.

    I'd like more extras though, are you listening Paramount? Season 2 had a terrific documentary on the creation of the series.
  3. Haden

    Haden Supporting Actor

    Dec 4, 2001
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    Yup, I agree about the desire for more extras. It would have been nice to at least get the "Dead Friend Sketch" in the season 3 set. According to TVTome, this was a 2 minute special that aired during a Monty Python 30th anniversary special and was a tribute to Monty Python's "Dead Parrot" sketch. It aired in 1999 when season 3 was running, so I was hoping it would be included in the season 3 DVD set. Unfortunately it wasn't. [​IMG]
  4. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

    Jun 6, 1999
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    The Dead Pigeon sketch is available on one of the Monty Python DVDs (one of the extra ones, not the series run) from A&E. I don't remember which one off-hand, though...
  5. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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    I don't think Paramount had squat to do with this set other than distributing it. The package is absolutely identical to the first two - without a few Paramount logos, you'd think it was from WB. It comes in the same kind of case and even includes tear-out proof of purchase tabs just like those in WB titles!

    The point being - don't blame Paramount for a paucity of extras, as I really doubt they had anything to do with the set's production...
  6. WillG

    WillG Producer

    Jan 30, 2003
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    The irony of the whole thing is that, Matt and Trey talk about doing the "Commentary-Minis" because the hate to hear other commentators ramble on when they have nothing left to say, but this is exactly what I wanted from them just because of how amusing they are.
  7. Andrew Radke

    Andrew Radke Screenwriter

    May 8, 2003
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    Guelph, Ontario - Canada
    Real Name:
    Andrew Radke
    Just once I'd like to see a set include "The Spirit of Christmas". That little animated Christmas card Trey and Matt created was basically what started it all. Another disappointment.........and this refers to the season 2 set actually was the lack of the "Chef Aid: Behind The Menu" special. This was available on the single disc releases and I thought for sure it would've made the S2 set. Oh well...

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