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Season Three of ‘South Park’ delivers

Molly Griffin | Wednesday, February 18, 2004

To watch South Park is to enter into a twisted, profanity-laced universe made of construction paper where strange things happen on a daily basis. The show follows the wacky misadventures of four third-graders – Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny, in South Park, Colo. – and has become something of a cultural phenomenon. Since its debut in 1997, South Park has been a bane to parents, a subject of protest and an issue constantly debated on nightly news shows for corrupting the youth of the nation. It has also created major ratings for Comedy Central, a merchandising empire and a theatrically released movie. So, like most controversial shows, it inspires both love and hate with few viewers remaining neutral. The show is offensive and at times borders on sacrilegious, but it is also a funny and biting critique of topical issues and of society itself. Season Three of South Park proved that the show had enough creative force and popularity to survive the second season that normally kills fad shows. Some of the episodes seem a bit dated (Bill Clinton and Pokemon are subjects) because the show deals primarily with poking fun at current events, but the humor survives in spite of the lapse in time. Most of the shows just imitate the voices of celebrities (as is stated in the disclaimer before each show), but through its growing popularity, it sometimes manages to attract celebrity guest stars. Season Three includes guest voices such as Jennifer Aniston as a high-strung children’s choir leader (“Rainforest, Shmainforest”) and the band Korn as themselves (“Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery”). The episodes in Season Three deal with a variety of different issues, ranging from Christmas to sexual harassment to spontaneous human combustion. Aside from the actual episodes, the DVD set doesn’t include a lot of extras, but it has enough to make the discs watchable and attractive to fans. The interactive menus are easy to use, there is a “play all” feature, and there is access to individual scenes and the menus are easy to use. The set includes 17 episodes on three discs, and each episode has a brief commentary by creators/writers/voice artists Matt Parker and Trey Stone. The commentaries run through the first few minutes of each episode, and this provides a kind of introduction and background to each show. This approach to commenting works, because the viewer gets the creator’s views on the show without having to deal with long pauses or not being able to hear most of the episode. The commentary is also available for every episode, which is rare on most DVD sets for television shows. Parker and Stone’s comments are humorous and avoid being too serious or pretentious, which seems fitting for a show as satirical as South Park. Watching the episodes commercial-free is nice, but you do come to realize that almost a full eight minutes of broadcast South Park episodes are commercials.The picture quality is good, and the colors of the animation remain appropriately bright and clear for an animated cartoon. The shows are in Dolby Digital sound, and they can be watched in English, Spanish and French. The special features are not extravagant, but they get the job done and there are few problems to be had while watching the DVDs.Season Three of South Park proves to be a very funny and interesting season, and it is presented in a manner that is simple to use and easy to watch. If you’re not a fan of the show, this won’t win you over, but those who love it will appreciate this set as a fitting package for a unique show.