South Park creators Parker and Stone kill any chance of the show’s hit-or-miss fourth season being remotely worth the price

By Gus Bode

Gusheads:2 out of 4

Another season of “South Park” has been released upon the masses that has taken entirely too long to be produced and presents “South Park” fans with the same old question:”The show is great, but is it really worth the inflated $35 retail price?”

Unlike prior sets, Season Four doesn’t contain any extra documentary on “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, or even extra footage from other Comedy Central releases. What the consumer is presented with is a pretty barebones presentation of merely the episodes with “brief” episode commentary by the creators.

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That being said, the episodes within the collection do tend to lead to the overall worth of the set, slowly making it worth the price with the sharp writing, over-the-top antics of Stan, Kyle, Eric and Kenny; and the messages Parker and Stone send to the audience through each episode. It’s actually a good thing “South Park” is recommended for mature audiences because after all the nonsense, vulgarity and hysterical dialogue it might take a mature intellect to siphon each episode to find some moral worth. But it is there if one looks hard enough.

Examples of topics addressed in the episodes include:hate crimes, social acceptance of the handicapped, religious propaganda and the ignorance behind many of our laws aimed at promoting a more “politically correct” society. Alas, unless one is a diehard “South Park” fan, purchasing this and all other box sets of the series comes with the downside of having a fairly equal number of great episodes thrown in with some so-so episodes, making for $35 worth of hit-or-misses.

The only really “negative” aspect of the collection is that, much like the previous DVD releases, the commentary provided for each episode only lasts the first 10 minutes or so, and then Parker and Stone move onto the next cartoon as if they were in a mad hurry to make their dinner reservation. This often makes for a very general comment that doesn’t even really pertain to the episode as far as production details so much as it does the general concept behind the episode.

In the end it seems as if Parker and Stone just want to get it all over with while still giving the consumer some extra frills. Unlike “The Simpsons,” Parker and Stone have been the key writers for each season up to now, making it more and more challenging to come up with fresh jokes and creative storylines. This would explain why the series has gotten increasingly “out there” as far as concepts and situations are concerned. Case in point:A talking, walking towel that smokes pot (although Mr. Hankey is a talking piece of poo that wears a Santa hat).

The set does contain the first appearances of Timmy and Ms. Choksondik, and the hilarious episode in which Cartman dreams of a way to make $10 million by starting a boy band called “Fingerbang.” Their single the group ends up singing is equally awesome.

To try and branch out (keep themselves from dying of boredom) Parker and Stone have done other cinematic ventures that most people overlook, and “South Park:Bigger, Longer and Uncut” is not what’s being referred to.

After “South Park” hit it big, Parker and Stone released “BASEketball” to an unsuspecting public. People had become used to the duos use of animation, but weren’t entirely prepared for their sense of humor put to use in a live action film. M

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ost people who’d seen the film wished they hadn’t. Some were even driven to binge drinking to erase the bad memories. Yet for others who had done their research and sought out the duo’s other live action films, “BASEketball” was merely another testament to their comedic quasi-genius and dedication to lowbrow humor. There’s the heart and soul that was put into their first film, “Cannibal! The Musical” and the innovativeness applied to 1997’s “Orgazmo” that few people even know exist.

“Cannibal! The Musical” is the story of a man named Alfred Packer who leads a group of miners from Utah to the Colorado territory in the late 1800s. Naturally, they get lost and that’s when the craziness begins. It’s even based upon actual events that happened in Colorado. And, yes, it’s not just a clever titled. The film is an actual musical, which isn’t surprising considering the musical orientation of “South Park.”

“Orgazmo” is the tale of Joe Young (Trey Parker), a mormon who goes to Los Angeles to hit the big time. Instead, he ends up in the world of pornography, masquerading as the super-sexed super hero Orgazmo with his faithful sidekick, Choda Boy. Real-life porn star Ron Jeremy co-stars as – well – a porn star. Needless to say, this probably isn’t one for the kiddies. There aren’t any actual sexual situations (Parker maintains his integrity as an artist), but the sight of a short man running around in his underwear with a rubber “apparatus” stuck to the top of his head, bobbling about may not be suitable for some audiences.

For roughly the same amount of money as it would take to purchase one of the “South Park” box sets, one could buy both “Cannibal” and “Orgazmo” without having to buy them bootleg from someone in Hong Kong. However, one can purchase a region free unrated version of “Orgazmo” on DVD regularly on eBay. Right now, “Orgazmo” is available legitimately on VHS in the unrated version, however an official special edition DVD is in progress.

Needless to say, there is more to life than “South Park” however daunting the notion may be. Although highly entertaining, and chock-full of both wisdom and hilarity, there is more to Trey Parker and Matt Stone than meets the eye even though “South Park:Season Four” may not give such an indication.

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