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South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season(TV) (2008)
South Park revolves around four boys—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick—and their bizarre adventures in and around the titular Colorado town.
For more about South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season and the South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray release, see South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Trey Parker
Writers: Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Bill Hader, Kristen Schaal
Starring: Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Isaac Hayes, Mona Marshall, April Stewart, Mary Kay Bergman
» See full cast & crew
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review
One of TV's best shows debuts on Blu-ray with fine results.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 26, 2009
"South Park" is more than a mere cartoon. It's bigger than its slew of memorable characters, more meaningful than the toilet humor and potty mouths of its young characters, and it is certainly deeper than the simple animation may lead one to believe. "South Park," despite its negative publicity in some corners as a low-brow comedy show, is actually one of the smartest programs ever to grace television screens. The show is the perfect marriage of crude humor and timely commentary on the latest social and political goings-on. It's possibly the most up-to-date show on television, and it's never afraid to tackle any issue, offend any viewer, or insult any public figure. Of course, it's all done with virtually no class, but most every episode has a point to make, to point out the follies of some ridiculous social or political issue or attempt to instill, in a twisted manner anyway, some sort of valuable lesson. Of course, some episodes are nothing but crude humor of the lowest common denominator, but that's all right. "South Park" co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker not only push the envelope with their show, they shred it and build a new one to shred. Whether viewers like the show, hate it, or feel indifferently towards it, one must respect Parker and Stone for never backing down, keeping the show fresh after all these years, and most importantly, making it far more important and timely than it probably deserves to be.
"South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season" rates as one of the more mediocre of the dozen seasons to date. It's still fantastic television, but not quite up to the complete level of excellence of previous seasons. Like the previous eleven, season twelve sees its share of ups and downs, and features several classics-in-the-making episodes, a few good ones, and several forgettable outings. Perhaps the season's most disappointing moment comes with a rather weak finale, "The Ungroundable," an episode that sees little in the way of development of the primary characters and centers on the show's quartet of Goth students, tertiary characters that often do little more than make a brief appearance here and there. Giving them their own show seems a logical step, and there is nothing wrong with the episode "per se," but it is definitely something of a disappointment for a season finale.
Season twelve does contain many classic "South Park" moments, seeing the boys get in and out of trouble both at home and abroad, scheming to get ahead, trying to outdo one another, see the folly of an adult's logic from a child's perspective, and even learn a few life lessons along the way. While not a particularly fantastic pair of episodes, "Pandemic" and "Pandemic 2: The Startling" capture the very essence of the entirety of the run through the eyes of tertiary character Craig Tucker as he begrudgingly joins Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny in their latest scheme and laments the expected failure and subsequent world of trouble that follows the endeavor. The season continues in the tradition of poking fun at popular culture and political figures. Among those in the crosshairs are the 2008 Presidential candidates, Britney Spears, Bill Belichick, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Guantanamo Bay, conspiracy theorists, "The Diary of Anne Frank," and the films Philadelphia, Stand and Deliver, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Deliverance, Cloverfield, Oceans Eleven, and High School Musical. Many of the plot lines and the way various segments of modern life are tied together seem to come out of left field, but as always, Parker and Stone manage to make it all gel in the end, generally with plenty of laughs.
Season twelve highlight episodes include:
Episode One, "Tonsil Trouble"
Cartman has his tonsils removed and is accidentally given AIDS-infected blood at the hospital. Unfortunately for him, AIDS has become a passing fad, a disease nobody cares about anymore. He only manages to raise $17 at his benefit concert featuring Jimmy Buffet replacing Elton John as the headlining entertainment. Kyle finds it funny that Cartman has AIDS, and Cartman retaliates by injecting Kyle with his blood. Now, the pair must track down their only hope in finding a cure: former NBA superstar Magic Johnson.
Episode Two, "Britney's New Look"
A television news update on Britney Spears' whereabouts and latest problems supersedes a debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It turns out that Britney has been hiding out in the mountains of South Park, and a local man shot a scandalous photo of the troubled star and sold it to the local FOX news station for a cool $100 grand. Rumor now has the pop princess holing up inside a local hotel, and the gang decides to try and snap a few pictures of their own. Britney breaks down in front of the children and shoots herself with a shotgun. Later, Stan and Kyle find her still alive in the hospital, minus half her head. Now, the boys must save her from a fate far worse than incessant media attention.
Episode Three, "Major Boobage"
When counselor Mackey warns the fourth grade class about the dangers of getting high, he accidentally tells them that male cat urine used to mark territory does the trick nicely. Of course, the boys experiment and Kenny finds himself under the influence, seemingly in the presence of a beautiful woman in an animated world that is a riff on the cult-classic animated film Heavy Metal. To combat the growing problem, the parents of South Park, led by Mr. Broflovski, draw up a bill outlawing cats. Meanwhile, the boys must intervene in Kenny's newfound obsession with "cheesing" while Cartman becomes a savior of neighborhood felines.
Episode Six, "Over Logging"
The Marsh family has become obsessed with the Internet. When the family awakens one morning to find they cannot log on, each family member begins a slow descent into madness. Desperate to get online, the family heads over to the Broflovski house, only to find their Internet down, too. The entire town soon becomes aware of the mounting tragedy, and they descend upon the local Starbucks and Apple Store to get their fix, but soon find the Internet to be down all across town and, they believe, perhaps state- and nationwide. The townsfolk find themselves in the dark, desperate for any news as to what is plaguing the 'Net. When the television has no answers, and one day without a connection becomes eight, the Marsh family packs their bags and head for Silicon Valley in hope of finding the Internet once again.
Episode Seven, "Super Fun Time"
The fourth grade class visits Pioneer Village, a historical recreation of 1864 Colorado. Cartman and Butters are forced to pair up and hold hands, and while visiting the local gunsmith, they catch a glimpse of the "Super Phun Thyme" entertainment center only two blocks away. Cartman forces Butters, who refuses to let go of his hand, to sneak out for some fun. Meanwhile, an SUV full of heavily armed terrorists take the class and employees of the Village hostage, killing the "lawman" immediately. When Butters and Cartman return to the Village, they find it surrounded by police and assume the law is there for them. They sneak back in, hoping to avoid the authorities. They and a last-ditch effort from Stan may be the hostage's only hope for coming out of the ordeal alive.
Episode Eight, "The China Problem"
Cartman has been having nightmares about the Chinese taking over the world. He begins the "American Liberation Front" to foil the coming Chinese invasion of America, and recruits Butters into the organization by telling him that Chinese troops will kill his parents. Cartman and Butters head to a local Chinese restaurant to glean more information about the pending invasion and end up taking the restaurant's patrons hostage, shooting a civilian in the process. Meanwhile, Kyle continues to have nightmares about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, upset that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg "raped" the character with the latest installment of the franchise.
Episode Nine, "Breast Cancer Show Ever"
Wendy is trying to bring Breast Cancer Awareness to the fourth grade class, and Cartman sees it as an opportunity to poke fun at her. Wendy takes offense and confronts him. The two agree to fight after school to resolve their differences. Cartman is gung-ho about the idea until he realizes that if he loses the fight, he loses face. He does all he can to stop the pending fight, but Wendy will not back down and decides to beat her own personal "cancer" once and for all.
Episode Thirteen, "Elementary School Musical"
The boys find themselves confused by an outbreak of song and dance in the cafeteria and learn that the children were inspired by the High School Musical films. They rent the original HSM and fail to see what the fuss is all about. They believe they've either outgrown the fad or are no longer hip with the times. Stan feels like he's losing Wendy to the best looking boy in school, Bridon, who also happens to be an excellent singer and dancer. Stan and Bridon become friends after Bridon confides in Stan that he only wants to play basketball, but his controlling father wants him to sing and dance. Stan decides that rather than become outcasts at school, the boys better get on board with the HSM craze.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
"South Park" makes its long-awaited debut on the Blu-ray format with fine results. Each episode is presented in 1080i high definition and framed in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratios. Fine details that have not been seen before are revealed in every episode, including textures on walls, hair, and clothing. The image is consistently sharp and lines are smooth, though viewers may note a few haloing effects around characters against bright backgrounds, an example being a scene during a snowy playground fight in the season's first episode. There are also some instances of banding seen here and there, but such issues generally don't serve as a major distraction to the enjoyment of the program's visuals. Every color is bright and pleasing on the eye; many pop off the screen, and Blu-ray breathes new life into Kyle's green hat or Kenny's orange parka, for example. The animation does seem a bit jumpy and jittery at times, which can occasionally lend a brief blurring effect to moving objects. Still, despite a few minor issues, "South Park" has never looked better.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Paramount delivers "South Park" to Blu-ray with a better-than-anticipated Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The opening theme song plays with a nice presence all around the soundstage, focused up front but with plenty of strong support from the rears. Music throughout the episodes is crisp and delivered mostly via the front channels with a clarity and precision never heard before on the show, either on television or DVD releases of previous seasons. Bass is only ever consistently present during the precussion-heavy theme that plays over the closing credit sequence, though episodes 10 and 11, "Pandemic" and "Pandemic 2: The Startling" offer quite the selection of robust lows. The rear channels do enjoy some activity here and there, with both the occasional discrete effects and music making their presence known, blending in perfectly with the action and immersing the listener when called upon to do so. Dialogue is strong and crisp, precisely delivered through the center channel speaker. This is "South Park" sounding better than ever before, and as nice as the show looks, this soundtrack is arguably the technical show-stopper of this package.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season" arrives on Blu-ray with several supplemental features spread across all three discs. Each episode comes with a "mini commentary" track with "South Park" co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker as they spend several minutes per episode reflecting on the experiences of making the show. Disc one contains The Making of 'Major Boobage' (480p, 13:17), a four-part look at the construction of the episode. The piece features interview snippets with Animation Producer Eric Stough, Art Director/Producer Adrien Beard, and Co-Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, along with concept art, storyboards, computer models, a side-by-side-by-side-by-side look at the various stages of composition of some of the effects shots, as well as a look at some live-action tests. Disc two features Six Days to South Park (480p, 1:22:26), a comprehensive day-by-day look at the creation of an episode from concept to airing, all in only 144 hours. In this case, the piece focuses on episode 1207, "Super Fun Time," A.K.A. "The Living Museum." Viewers expecting to see behind-the-scenes hustle-and-bustle may be disappointed; this piece shows the episode in various stages of completion with audio commentary on how it comes together. Disc three offers viewers Behind the Scenes (1080i, 22:01), a condensed version of the Six Days to South Park feature. This supplement looks at the episode entitled "About Last Night..." and focuses only on the last 24 hours before airtime, in this case, the day after the 2008 Presidential election. Finally, "South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season" comes with a digital copy of the show, but is only available to Windows users and is not compatible with the Apple iPod.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season" may be considered a solid season, though it's not quite up to par with the best of the series. It contains several fantastic episodes in the tradition of the classic motifs of the show, along with a few episodes that hold good replay value in addition to the inevitable clunkers. After twelve seasons, "South Park" shows no signs of slowing down; it's still as edgy, timely, and funny as ever, the show seemingly as ageless as the characters that inhabit it. Season Twelve marks the show's preliminary Blu-ray release. It's completely uncensored, meaning the numerous swear words are not beeped out, and the show is unafraid to use coarse language numerous times per episode. Each episode looks and sounds great. Aside from a few hiccups with the video, there is little to complain about from a technical perspective. The supplements are fine, but feel slightly lacking. Nevertheless, "South Park" is finally available to own on Blu-ray, and Paramount's release does not disappoint. Highly recommended.
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