Thursday, March 17, 2005

South Park: The Complete Fifth Season

3-disc set; 15 episodes (315 minutes)

So this is my first purely DVD review and also a review of one of my favorite TV shows – “South Park.” I’ve been watching since the beginning and have been buying these sets immediately without fail. That notwithstanding I also hope to objectionable here. Expect nice overall scores, but I’ll try an’ tell you what episodes were good and which were bad.

Here’s how I’ll be doing “season set” reviews. Each episode will be rated simply with “thumbs down,” “thumbs up” or “thumbs in the middle.” The season as a whole gets the 0-5 star score. Since the packaging includes it, I’ll include the original airdate. This’ll become more helpful with the really topical episodes.

I don’t have one of those nice catch-all things to say about this season really. Jimmy is introduced and Kenny is killed off for what ended up being a season or so. SP was kinda sorta still transitioning from a simpler show to the current one with so-convoluted-its-funny stories and plain obvious political messages/agenda with the episode.

The episode numbering is different from the air order. I’m not going to read into that any further. So here we go...

It Hits the Fan (air: 6/20/01) – This episode was pretty heavily hyped on Comedy Central at the time. The plot is basically this: Kyle gets tickets to “Lion King” but Cartman interrupts those plans with the news that “shit” will be said on television. Everybody is enamored by “shit” whilst a number of people’s intestines are coming out of their bodies. Kyle investigates and it turns out curse words really are...cursed. Without the freshness of hearing swear words on free TV, this wasn’t as good. Had its moments, which basically earns it thumbs in the middle.

Cripple Fight (air: 6/27/01) – We join the boys at scouts, where Big Gay Al is the scout leader and Jimmy is a handi-capable comedian from out-of-town. Al is fired for being gay and Timmy is mad over Jimmy’s success. The highlight here, which everybody remembers, is the long fight sequence between the Jim & Tim. As is now well documented, it was stolen shot for shot from “They Live.” There was some good stuff here...really good stuff in fact. But I can’t give it more than thumbs in the middle. Man, two for two...

Super Best Friends (air: 7/4/01) – The boys end up joining a cult devoted to the teachings of David Blaine. Stan bails out and employs the help of the “Super Best Friends” to rid of the group. Only these “friends” are Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and other religious figures. This one really didn’t have a whole lot of belly laughs. I really liked the running joke of Jesus’ bad magic tricks. The Super Best Friends stuff was funny enough to give it thumbs in the middle.

Scott Tenorman Must Die (air: 7/11/01) – Cartman buys a high schooler’s pubes for $10. When he finds out this really make him a man, he tries to get his money back. After being fooled and fooled again, Cartman comes up with a plan that is one of the most shocking things I’ve seen them do. It really comes out of left field. That alone cements it as a must-see, but it’s also pretty funny. One of my all-time favorites. Thumbs up.

Cartmanland (air: 7/25/01) – Cartman inherits $1,000,000 from his dead grandma and uses it to buy his own theme park. The catch is, only he can go. This turns into a quest for Stan and Kyle to sneak in, only Kyle is crippled by hemorrhoids. He questions his faith throughout the episode until Eric inevitably loses his wealth. The concept isn’t bad when you add the caveat about Eric being alone in the park. This one is good too. Thumbs up.

Proper Condom Use (air: 8/1/01) – When Stan is caught beating off his dog (not a typo) the parents worry the school isn’t teaching sex ed young enough. This leads to a paranoia between the boys and girls that reaches war proportions. Meanwhile the two sex ed teachers, the doubly horrifying Mr. Mackey and Ms. Choksondik fall in love. Great at poking fun of current sex ed policies and just gross when the way-too-long sex scene between the teachers takes place and scenes of afterbirth. Bleh. Thumbs up.

Towelie (air: 8/8/01) – The last episode of the first half of the season. According to the commentary, this one originated from a dumb statement made by one of the writers on a trip to Lake Mead. “Don’t forget to bring a towel!” One of their “desperation shows” too where they just threw anything together. Cartman finds a tampon in the garbage. When he questions Stan’s mom about it, she just offers to buy the newest video game system (Okama GameSphere) in return for their silence. I thought tampons came up before? (when they stuck them up their asses in the previous season) This whole episode’s dumb so why do I bother. They encounter a talking towel who becomes important when their new video game turns up missing. A mysterious voice calls looking for the towel. The boys then go through a series of events to get the game system back. There are some funny things in here, but it’s more dumb than truly funny. Thumbs in the middle.

Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants (air: 11/7/01) – The first show made in the “post 9/11 world” which they did because people were expecting them to. Their response isn’t that bad. The kids send dollars to Afghanistan as part of a school project. They get a goat back from the kids which they can’t keep. So they end up going to Afghanistan to return it. They get caught by Osama and are freed, but Cartman gets revenge in a most classic way. The whole sequence between him and Bin Laden was done in the style of Bugs Bunny. The issues being discussed here were other countries hating us and supporting America despite its faults. This one was decently funny, and the amount of my American pride watching it the first time gives this thumbs up.

How to Eat with Your Butt (air: 11/14/01) – At picture day, Cartman decides to pull a prank, having Kenny go inside his parka backwards with his ass in the head spot. He takes this joke to its limit (a theme for this show) eventually putting the photo on a milk carton. A family with TPS (a condition where you have buttocks where your face is) claims the child, which blows a “funny fuse” in Eric. This was a bonafide thumbs down, but picked up a pretty good, and funny, pace in the end. So I’ll be generous with a thumbs in the middle.

The Entity (air: 11/21/01) – Frustrated with the current airline situation, Mr. Garrison decides to invent a new machine that he tentatively titles “It” which he says will revolutionize travel (sound familiar?). Meanwhile, Kyle’s cousin Kyle comes to town, who is a full blown uberjew. That thread is very entertaining and is the meat of this show. Removed from the currentness of airport frustration and the “It” joke, it’s probably not as good, but I remember it well then and liked it upon second viewing. Thumbs up.

Here Comes the Neighborhood (air: 11/28/01) – Token (the token black character on the show…well, the new one) feels left out when his poor friends make fun of his wealth. He gets more rich families to move to town (who all happen to be black) but the adults in town end up driving them out. This one was pretty stupid…but stupid enough for a thumbs up. The total inaneness of some plot points (envision somebody burning a “lower case t” on your lawn) just made it.

Kenny Dies (air: 12/5/01) – Kenny dies. That’s about it for plot. His character would be gone for about a year. Stan can’t deal with the death and doesn’t get to say goodbye. Meanwhile Cartman tries to sell fetuses and forward stem cell research. More serious than funny, of course. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind another episode this serious. It was pretty good. Thumbs up.

Butters’ Very Own Episode (air: 12/12/01) – Butters gets his own opening credit sequence which is hilarious. His parents are having an anniversary. Wanting to finally top him, Butters’ mom sends him out to spy on his dad. What he finds is a secret double life where his dad goes to gay bathhouses. Butters’ mom goes insane, and attempts to kill him. They end up blaming “some Puerto Rican guy” and the Ramseys, Gary Condit and O.J. get involved. Very, very funny. Go Butters. Thumbs up.

The count (up-down-middle):
9 - 0 - 5

As a side note, the discs are placed in the same style packaging as previous sets – scenes from one episode features on the disk on the face, being stored logically left to right. The scenes are in order – but the discs are numbered right to left. This conflict was a bit annoying.

If you got the last few seasons, you heard “mini commentaries.” Trey and Matt say they can’t say any more than a few minutes on each episode, so the commentaries only last that long. What they do say isn’t bad, but you feel cheated some times. Personally, I don’t care for extras and buy these things for the episodes...but still.

A mostly good season as you can tell, featuring some key episodes and lots of laughs. On the big ol’ scale, the fifth season of “South Park” gets...


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