In 2011, Comedy Central aired the fifteenth season of South Park, starring those foul-mouthed kids from the fictional Colorado town. Fresh from their success on Broadway with The Book of Mormon, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue as the main creative force with Parker credited as writer and director on all 14 episodes.
The season contains the usual blend of shocking humor and social satire filtered through pop culture, though the formula shows some wear as the shock factor seems to take precedent over the humor too often. It’s surprising that the same guys who created the Emmy Award-nominated “Crack Baby Athletic Association,” which features a very smart script as Cartman schemes to make money the same way colleges do by not paying athletes, yet at the same time write “Broadway Bro Down,” which beats one idea to death and seems an excuse to see how many times “blowjob” can be said in an episode.
The season opener has a mixture of good and bad elements. In “HUMANCENTiPAD” Kyle learns the dangers of not reading Apple’s terms and conditions for iTunes and for those that know the horror film, “Human Centipede (First Sequence),” the result is as bad as you think. Meanwhile, Cartman is upset over not having an iPad like the other kids and throws a public tantrum where he claims his mother has fucked him, which gets the attention of the authorities. His plotline dragged the show down as his language just became boring.
South Park doesn’t mind biting the hand that feeds so in “Funnybot” Jimmy created a comedy awards show, spoofing Comedy Central’s newest endeavor. When the Germans find out they’ve been voted the “least funny people”, they create a robot, slightly reminiscent of a Dalek from Doctor Who in response. They also give a well-deserved ribbing in “A History Channel Thanksgiving” to the channel whose programming doesn’t always fit the brand.
Kyle’s younger brother Ike, one of my favorite characters, is featured in “Royal Pudding,” which finds all Canadians returning home when the princess is captures on her wedding day. It’s fun for a while, but the way the stories get tied up seem due to a deadline to finish the episode because the conclusion makes little sense.
A few episodes have slightly serious overtones as the boys deal with growing up. Once Stan turns 10 in “You’re Getting Old,” he becomes cynical and considers everything around him to be shit. And with South Park, the shit is displayed literally. I was surprised Mr. Hankey didn’t make an appearance. In “1%” Cartman who is the brunt of his classmates’ anger because he has thrown off the physical-fitness numbers makes some strides of maturity, at least for that episode. Another character that goes through changes is Tuong Lu Kim, who can’t accept the opening of “City Sushi” so near his City Wok restaurant.
As usual with the South Park Blu-ray releases, the video quality is outstanding. The 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer, shown at an aspect ratio 1.78:1, delivers impressively vibrant colors. The faux construction paper look provides some texture and a nod back to the show’s origins. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio delivers just enough to get the job done. The dialogue, except for Kenny, is always clear and takes precedent in the front-center channel. The music and occasional faint ambiance can be heard in the surrounds but it doesn’t do much to augment the viewing experience.
The Bonus Features are in HD. I can’t believe it took so long for some to create “6 Days to Air” (42 min), an extremely interesting behind-the-scenes look at how an episode is created in less than a week that aired on Comedy Central. “6 Days to Air: Behind the Scenes of ‘City Sushi'” (3 min) presents a brief look from a different episode. There are seven Season 15 Deleted Scenes (5 min) and the typical mini-commentaries that Parker and Stone hate doing.
If you are still content with Parker and Stone’s batting average, South Park – The Complete Fifteenth Season should please fans of the show. The video is certainly well worth seeing in high def, and “6 Days to Air” is arguably the best bonus feature they’ve ever done.