Friday, August 3, 2007

South Park: The Complete Third Season

3-disc set; 17 episodes (374 minutes)

It was in the middle of this season that the “South Park” movie came out, “Bigger, Longer and Uncut.” So just like with the season made during “Team America” I reviewed, they had a bit of trouble getting quality shows out while making the film. That’s what they say, of course, and I disagree. There were some funny things here out of some supposedly stupid ideas.

Unfortunately, voiceover talent Mary Kay Bergman, responsible for practically all the female voices up to this point, committed suicide late in the season. Trey & Matt again worked well under pressure, creating some episodes on the fly that didn’t involve (or at least had a minimum of) female voices. The commentary on “Red Badge of Gayness,” the first episode without her, contains some touching remarks.

Here are the 17 episodes in season three:

Rainforest Schmainforest (air: 4/7/99) – The boys act up during a presentation for a kids choir that’s trying to save the rainforest, so Mr. Mackey signs them up to go. After getting lost though, and attacked by native tribes, their tune quite literally changes. Jennifer Aniston guest stars as the choir leader. Why don’t they use more female guest stars – or guest stars period – any more? Not a home run these days, but still solid. Thumbs up.

Spontaneous Combustion (air: 4/14/99) – Kenny suddenly ignites and the scientific minds of South Park are called upon for answers. And by scientific minds I mean Randy Marsh. This was well before he was any sort of character on the show, making it that much funnier. Not an epic episode by any means, but a series highlight because it’s so darn funny. Memorable moments include the awards show, church scenes and the newscast. Thumbs up.

The Succubus (air: 4/21/99) – The boys find out Chef has left the school because he’s found love with a woman named Veronica. Under her guidance, Chef now works at an office and frequently sings “There’s Got to Be a Morning After.” Stan & Kyle discover she’s a creature sent from hell to suck the life out of Chef, while Cartman has problems with his eye doctor. Thumbs up.

Jakovasaurs (air: 6/16/99) – An obvious slight at George Lucas for the travesty that was Jar Jar Binks. Cartman discovers the “Jackovasaurs,” an annoying species prone to physical comedy only he enjoys, on a camping trip. The Department of Interior come to town to help with their repopulation. Some funny jokes here for sure, but just plain annoying now removed from its first airing. Even though Matt & Trey say that was the point. Thumbs in the middle.

Tweek vs. Craig (air: 6/23/99) – The boys all take shop class, except for Kenny who takes home ec. Meanwhile, Stan & Kyle try to get Tweek to fight Craig, who’s backed by Cartman. Another great example of an episode that didn’t need to be convoluted to be funny. Thumbs up. And stop screwin’ around. You all screw around too much.

Sexual Harassment Panda (air: 7/7/99) – Sexual Harassment Panda talks to the kids of South Park, inspiring Cartman to sue Stan for harassment. It spawns a whole slew of lawsuits, which make Kyle’s dad rich and the schools poor. They have to cut Sexual Harassment Panda from the budget, which makes him a saaaaaad panda. The very definition of “out of ideas,” but despite fan backlash, it’s still funny to me. Thumbs up.

Cat Orgy (air: 7/14/99) – The first of a three episode story arc, all centering around a meteor shower. Cartman’s mom is going to a party to celebrate the shower, so Eric’s left under Shelley’s watch. She mistreats him and invites her 22-year old boyfriend Skyler over. Meanwhile, the Cartman cat is in heat, and out on the prowl. More funny on initial airing and a little simple, but still thumbs up. I’ll always laugh at Cartman as Will Smith in “Wild Wild West.”

Two Naked Guys in a Hot Tub (air: 7/21/99) – This is Stan’s part of the story. These three episodes are happening simultaneously, you see. Stan’s parents drag him along to the meteor shower party and stick him in the kids room with “Melvins” – the exciting trifecta of Pip, Butters (in his coming out episode) and Dougie. Meanwhile, Randy & Gerald “experiment” in the hot tub and the ATF mistakes the party for a religious cult set to commit suicide. Easily the best of the three. Thumbs up.

Jewbilee (air: 7/28/99) –. Kyle gets sent to Jew Scouts for a big Jewbilee gathering in light of the meteor shower. Kenny has nowhere else to be, so he pretends he’s Jewish and tags along. Ike’s too young for regular Jew Scouts, so he’s in Squirts, where the scoutleader decides to take on a bear that’s been on the loose. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to religious conventions, so the absurdity of Moses as some sort of…Voltron from Power Rangers deal didn’t strike me too funny. Just wasn’t as good as the first time I saw it. Thumbs down.

Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery (air: 10/27/99) – Continuing the Halloween episode tradition is this parody of Scooby Doo (with some other classic cartoons thrown in) featuring Korn as our mystery solvers. It seems pirate ghosts are haunting the South Park docks just as Korn are to perform for the Halloween Haunt. And the boys are trying to get the fifth graders back for scaring them. Good jokes in this one, especially Stan’s first line of the episode. Thumbs up.

Chinpokomon (air: 11/3/99) – A funny take on the Pokemon fad while it was red hot. This came out right around the time the Pokemon movie hit theaters. And being in school at the time with kids who were full-on Pokefans, this was something nice to throw in their face. Chinpokomania sweeps through the youth of South Park except Kyle. The Japanese makers of the toys use the product line to try to get kids to bomb Pearl Harbor. Thumbs up. One of my all-time favorites forever, the parody commercials are a huge highlight, and were part of my online avatar selection for years.

Hooked on Monkey Phonics (air: 11/10/99) – It’s time for the big spelling bee, and Cartman’s mom gets him “Hooked on Monkey Phonics” to help him win. But everybody’s surprised to see two home school kids enter the contest and kick ass. They eventually enter public school, so the boys - and even the parents - have some fun at their expense. Thumbs up. We were all talking about the Ronnie James Dio “cameo” the next day.

Starvin’ Marvin in Space (air: 11/17/99) – An alien craft lands in Ethiopia, where our pal Starvin’ Marvin and his people are being converted to Christianity by missionaries. Once Marvin discovers the spaceship, he takes it around the galaxy trying to find a place to relocate, picking up the South Park boys along the way. Once the government and Pat Robertson get wind of this, they try to beat Marvin to the alien planet to establish a mission. The bit with the CBN updates is great. Thumbs up. The commentary on this also features a great bit where they apply Pokemon marketing to “The 700 Club.”

The Red Badge of Gayness (air: 11/24/99) – It’s the annual Civil War re-enactment in South Park. Cartman quits the drum & fife squad on the union side and joins the south as General Lee, rallying them to take the battle and eventually…the country? What a random concept, but definitely one everybody remembers fondly. Thumbs up.

Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics (air: 12/1/99) – In the scramble to come up with new ideas I mentioned above, Trey & Matt decided to animate select songs from the South Park Christmas album. They figured since so few people bought it and they worked so hard on the songs, it deserved better exposure. I never heard of it at the time, and only last year saw it in a clearance area at Christmas and got it for about $7. It’s pretty good, so this episode is too. It’s more or less 10 music videos – 9 from the album, and 1 that didn’t clear the CD in time that’s hilarious. Thumbs up.

Are You There God? It’s Me Jesus (air: 12/29/99) – It’s New Years Eve 1999, and America expects Jesus to do something to ring in the millennium. Like get God to appear. Or get Rod Stewart to play Vegas, one of the two. Also, Cartman reaches puberty and…gets his period!? The other boys try to play catch up. Thumbs up.

World Wide Recorder Concert (air: 1/12/00) – It’s the biggest gathering of little plastic recorders in history! South Park Elementary and four million other kids converge on Arkansas to blow out “My Country Tis of Thee” and Mr. Garrison has to confront his father after not seeing him for 23 years. I’m trying to dance around why this one’s good, but suffice to say – it is. Thumbs up.

The count (up-middle-down):

While a lot of my thumbs up choices weren’t gutbusters, you have some pretty solid episodes with equally solid premises.

This was the first season to feature the “commentary mini” and it’s just as good as it was on future sets. It came about as a result of the DVD makers wanting full commentary on just select episodes and that idea being...dumb. The sound mix for this set is really quiet though, and it got a bit bothersome, especially when watching it on the computer.


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