South Park: The Complete Third Season review by Mike Long

As South Park entered its third season, it continued to grow in popularity, due to the fact that more people were tuning in to see this now infamous TV show, and no doubt, because more cable and satellite systems were adding Comedy Central. The series had grown so successful that a feature-film was being produced while Season Three was airing. Did popularity and multi-tasking effect the show's quality? Did the show have any quality to begin with? Now that South Park: The Complete Third Season is coming to DVD, you can decide for yourselves.

While South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone claim that Season 2 of the show wasn't very good, and that Season 3 is were things really began to gel. Their claim about Season 2 is highly debatable (that's when I started getting into the show and some of those episodes are among my favorites), it's certainly true that Season 3 demonstrates South Park coming together in terms of writing and animation quality. As the four main characters, Stan Marsh (voiced by Trey Parker), Kyle Broslofski (voiced by Matt Stone), Eric Cartman (voiced by Parker), and Kenny McCormick (voiced by Stone), had been well-established in the first two seasons, along with the other supporting players in the town, Parker and Stone were able to concentrate more on the odd storylines which make South Park such an intriguing show.

Here is an overview of the 17 episodes included in this three-disc set (the episode numbers do not correspond to air date):

301. "Rainforest Schmainforest" -- The South Park gang joins the musical group "Getting Gay With Kids", which is lead by Mrs. Stevens (voiced by Jennifer Aniston). This leads to a disastrous trip to Costa Rica. Cartman disciplines a snake and demands chicken wings from construction workers.

302. "Spontaneous Combustion" -- Issues with flatulence begin causing the people of South Park (including Kenny) to explode.

303. "The Succubus" -- Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes) is getting married, but his bride to be may be a demon! This episodes marks the first appearance of Chef's parents, who are voiced by Parker and Stone.

304. "Tweek vs. Craig" -- In one of South Park's odder episodes, Mr. Adler, the shop teacher, can't forget about his lost love (played by a live-action Pam Brady), which causes him to lose focus of his job. Meanwhile, the boys are obsessed with a school-yard fight.

305. "Jakovasaurs" -- A strange new species is discovered by the boys, and the creatures quickly begin taking over the town. Parker and Stone claim that the Jakovasaur is their take-off on Jar Jar Binks.

306. "Sexual Harrassment Panda" -- A costumed educator attempts to teach the kids about sexual harrassment. Includes a nice nod to Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

307. "Cat Orgy" -- Stan's evil sister Shelley babysits Cartman, while Cartman's cat, who is in heat, attempts to find ways to escape the house. Great Wild, Wild West spoof. Right, Clyde Frog?

308. "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub" -- Only South Park could combine a satire of Charlie's Angels with a story about two guys (Stan and Kyle's dads) who saw each other naked in a hot tub.

309. "Jewbilee" -- Kyle takes Kenny to his "Jew Scouts" camp for the "Jewbilee" celebration, in which Moses (who resembles the MCP from Tron) appears. Nice running joke with a bear has a Simpsons feel.

310. "Chinpoko Mon" -- The boys become caught up in the "Chinpoko Mon" craze (Can you guess what that's spoofing?), which is actually an evil plot by the Japanese to brain-wash American children.

311. "Starvin' Marvin in Space" -- Ethiopian Starvin' Marvin is back and this time he has a space-ship, which he wants to use to transplant his people.

312. "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" -- I don't even know where to start with this one. Hard rockers Korn (who look like Scooby-Doo characters) come to South Park and help the boys learn why Pirate Ghosts (or are they Ghost Pirates?) are haunting the South Park docks. "Come back here you son of a bitch chicken from outer space!" may be the greatest line ever said on TV.

313. "Hooked on Monkey Phonics" -- The guys participate in the South Park spelling bee and meet two kids who are home schooled, leading to a cultural clash.

314. "The Red Badge of Gayness" -- Cartman goes too far and decides that the South should win South Park's Civil War re-enactment.

315. "Mr. Hankey's Christman Classics" -- Mr, Hankey, the Christmas Poo, hosts a series of holiday songs, including Cartman's rendition of "O Holy Night".

316. "Are You There God? It's Me, Jesus" -- Jesus hosts a millenium event, while Cartman and Stan have a competition to see who can hit puberty first.

317. "World Wide Recorder Concert" -- The South Park kids venture to Arkansas for a huge concert featuring the lamest instrument ever; the recorder. While there, Cartman searches for a musical note which will have a devastating effect on anyone who hears it.

South Park has always been a true hit-or-miss show and Season 3 certainly exemplifies this. The central ideas to the shows are usually clever or bizarre enough to hook the interest of the viewer, especially if they are spoofing a well-known movie or idea. And the shows themselves are always filled with jokes. However, the quality of the jokes varies wildly. Basically, the humor falls into two categories, clever or crass, and both of these forms offer laughs. However, it seems that Parker and Stone often fall back on crass instead of going for the clever, giving the show a cheap feel. Now, when they are on, South Park can be one of the funniest shows ever, and the characters, especially Cartman have taken on a life of their own. I just wish that Parker and Stone wouldn't always go for the lowest-common denominator humor. Anyone can do gross-out humor. It's South Park's clever and truly bizarre moments that set it apart from the other animated shows which have come and gone over the past few years.

South Park: The Complete Third Season comes to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. This 3-disc set features all 17 episodes from Season 3 of South Park and the shows are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. The images here are sharp and clear for the most part, and the primary colors used on the show look very good, most notably the reds, blues, and greens. The picture does show trace amounts of artifacting and shimmering at times, making some of the shots look somewhat blurry. The episodes carry a Dolby Digital Stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue and music. The stereo effects are noticeable, but are quite unremarkable.

The only extra on the DVD are the "commentary-mini" performed by Parker and Stone. They state that they hate long commentaries in which the speakers run out of things to say, so in order to combat that, they offer only 3-6 minutes of commentary on each episode. They essentially discuss the origin of each episode and mention any special considerations and then move on to the next show. While this sounds weird, it actually works, and we probably all that we need to (or want to) about the episodes. And true to form, the "commentary-mini" contains many laughs and constant name-dropping (much of which is bleeped).

7 out of 10 Jackasses

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