South Park: The Complete Ninth Season review by Mike Long

It would be a crazy understatement to say that South Park is a very hit-or-miss show. I would love to say that series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker walk the thin line between clever and offensive, but that wouldn't be true. Rather, they seem to run screaming away from that line in either direction, leading to a show which can be very smart or very repugnant. The recently released South Park: The Complete Ninth Season truly illustrates this.

Save for the season where Kenny truly died, South Park really doesn't do overall seasonal story arcs, so I'll simply look at each episode from Season 9.

"Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" -- For years he was in denial about being gay, and then he was openly gay (going as far as to bring his lover Mr. Slave to school) and now teacher Mr. Garrison has decided to become a woman. This episode contains shots from an actual sex-change operation and that's just wrong. Garrion's surgery leads to an epidemic where Kyle and his dad undergo bizarre transformations. This one is just weird and the surgery shots are disgusting.

"Die Hippie, Die" -- Only Matt and Trey would spoof the stinker movie The Core. Cartman has his own business as a hippie exterminator. When a hippie festival comes to South Park, it's up to Cartman to put together a team who can drill through the crowd to the stage and stop the concert. This has some great moments and it's always fun to see Cartman rag on hippies.

"Wing" -- When Token gets a gig singing at the Miss Colorado pageant, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny decide to become talent agent's and represent Token. When CAA steals Token away, they think that their days as agents are over, but then they find that the owner of City Wok (sorry, I don't know his name) has a wife named Wing who is a singer. They take Wing to Hollywood to be on American Idol and run into an Asian gang. The fact that Wing is a real person makes this one of the more bizarre episodes of the show and I love that City Wok guy.

"Best Friends Forever" -- South Park takes on The Last Starfighter. Kenny gets a PSP (they don't explain where he gets the money for it) and becomes an expert at the game "Heaven and Hell". When Kenny dies (of course), he goes to Heaven only to learn that the game was a recruitment tool for the forces of Heaven to find someone who could lead them in a battle against the forces of Hell. Aside from referencing a classic movie, this one has some great moments where Cartman is jealous of Kenny's PSP. This episode won an Emmy.

"The Losing Edge" -- South Park is at its best when it examines what it's like to be a kid in America and "The Losing Edge" is a classic. The boys are ecstatic that baseball season has finally come to an end, as they find the game boring. Upon winning their final game, they are shocked to learn that they must now go to the state playoffs. So, they decide to lose on purpose, only to find that the other teams are trying the same thing. As someone who played Little League for 7 years and clearly remembers those games where nothing happened, I love this ep. The appearance by Kyle's cousin Kyle ("Oh Jesus!") is great as well. The subplot with Stan's dad getting drunk and fighting may reflect reality as well, but it wasn't very funny.

"The Death of Eric Cartman" -- Stan, Kyle, and Kenny have finally had enough of Cartman, so they begin to ignore him. This convinces Cartman that he has died and that he's a ghost. When Cartman realizes that Butters can see him, Cartman urges Butters to help save Cartman's soul. Any episode which pairs Cartman with Butters is always good and this one has some great moments where Cartman must ask for help, but he's still a jerk about it.

"Erection Day" -- Stand-up comic Jimmy is excited about the school talent show, but he fears going on-stage because he can't control when he gets erections. Most males will relate to aspects of this show, but a little Jimmy goes a long way and the jokes becomes tiresome in this one. Best to stick with the episode where Jimmy uses steroids.

"Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" -- The boys wreck a beaver dam and a nearby town is flooded. This convinces the adults of South Park that a Global Warming Emergency is in effect and that the weather will soon destroy the town. No one points out ignorance and over-reaction quite like Matt and Trey, but the scenes in which Stan's Dad walks through normal weather acting like he's in a blizzard are just dumb.

"Marjorine" -- A true classic. The boys want to gets their hands on the device which the girls have which can predict the future. (It's the paper instrument popularly known as a "Cootie Catcher".) So, they have Butters fake his own death so that he can become Marjorine, the new girl in town. Marjorine is to infiltrate the girls' slumber party and get the device. This one is great from start to finish, as Cartman plays the scientist from every 50s sci-fi film. And then we have the references to Pet Sematary. This one makes the set worth buying.

"Follow That Egg" -- Mrs. Garrison, who was formerly the gay Mr. Garrison, learns that Mr. Slave is going to get married. So, Mrs. Garrison fights to stop same-sex marriage. While focusing on the hot topic of gay marriage, Matt and Trey forgot to write some jokes. Angry Garrison is funny in very small doses.

"Ginger Kids" -- Cartman hates red-headed kids. When he suddenly becomes one, he takes on their cause, and leads the "ginger kids" on a genocidal rage. Wow, just wow. This one is really weird. Yes, we all know a "ginger kid", but this one is still strange.

"Trapped In the Closet" -- Yes, here is it. The Peabody Award-winning episode which supposedly made Tom Cruise so mad that he forced Comedy Central to never show it again. And you know what? It's not that good. Bored and depressed, Stan wanders into a Scientology recruitment center and he's declared the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard. This brings Tom Cruise to South Park. When Stan tells Cruise that he's not a very good actor, Cruise hides in Stan's closet and won't come out. Get it? The only good part of this ep is the explanation of Scientology, which is truly scary.

"Free Willzyx" -- The boys are at an aquarium when two employees throw their voices and convince the boys that a killer whale is actually part of an alien race and that he needs to get back to the moon. The boys kidnap the whale and shop around for a space agency which can help them. The scene where they encounter the Mexican space program (MASA) may be offensive, but it's also very funny.

"Bloody Mary" -- Matt and Trey explore the recent increase in the number of "miracles" when a Virgin Mary statue begins to bleed. Stan's Dad travels to see the statue hoping that it can help him with his drinking problem. Wow. South Park is adept at tackling social issues, and while the religious themes will get attention here, the more important motif lies in the story in which Randy wants to look outside of himself for help with alcoholism. This is a very poignant observation.

South Park: The Complete Ninth Season comes on down to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The three-disc set contains all 14 episodes from the show's ninth season. The shows are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio. The shows look very good, as the image is quite sharp and clear. The colors look especially good and the animation is free from any overt "stuttering". In short, the transfer rivals digital broadcast quality. The DVD's feature a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. This track offers clear dialogue and good music reproduction. The only time that that the stereo effects are obvious is when something happens off-screen.

Matt and Trey provide "commetary-mini" for each episode. In essence, they speak for just a few minutes about each show because they don't have enough to say to do an entire commentary. These may be short, but they are fun and we generally learn from where the idea for each show came. The only thing I don't like is that they sometimes miss a theme which arrives late in the episode. These commentaries are the only extras here.

7 out of 10 Jackasses

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