Saturday, March 06, 2010
South Park - The Complete Thirteenth Season (Comedy Central, $57.99 Blu-ray/$49.99 DVD) brings everybody's favorite group of animated foul-mouthed fourth graders together for fourteen more episodes of life in their small Colorado town. The thirteenth season is more of the same show that we are all used to, but in the typical style of South Park, it becomes even more hilarious than before and pushes the envelope on every single event in popular culture. The Complete Thirteenth Season is available in a three-disc DVD set as well as a two-disc Blu-ray set, which will be the focus of our coverage (for the first time ever!).
The season begins with "The Ring," where Kenny has a new girlfriend and thinks that he may finally get a chance to lose his virginity (yes, a fourth grader thinking about that), but life isn't so fun for him when his new girlfriend has an obsession with the Jonas Brothers and inspires him to wear a chastity ring. Cartman brings vigilante justice to South Park in "The Coon." It is a battle of the sexes in the incredibly raucous episode "Eat, Pray, Queef." Kanye West is incredibly confused about a joke that Jimmy (but Cartman attempts to take credit for) invented in "Fishsticks," and is out for revenge. Cartman dreams of living the pirate life when he hears news reports of piracy in Somoalia in "Fatbeard," so he decides to travel to Africa to partake in the pirate life, which leads to an international crisis.
Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, and several others are alive again (if only for 22 minutes) in "Dead Celebrities," where Ike starts seeing dead people. Youth prostitution becomes big in South Park in "Butters' Bottom Bitch," and Butters is behind it all. In "W.T.F.," the boys are interested in joining the wrestling team at school after watching professional wrestling on TV, but when they find out that real wrestling is "lame," they decide to start their own wrestling federation, complete with all of the soap opera drama of WWE. In "The F Word," a certain word becomes the talk of the town when the boys spray paint it all over town, but it happens to offend the gay community of South Park. Move over, Rush Limbaugh, here comes Eric Cartman when he takes over the morning announcements and uses it as a forum to talk about whatever he wants in "Dances with Smurfs." The season ends with "Pee," where the kids go to a water park that is in a crisis mode--too many people are peeing in the water, which will cause the world to end--although Cartman's biggest concern is that there are too many minorities in the wave pool.
The episodes as presented on the set are completely unedited and uncensored, which means that it provides more than what aired on Comedy Central. Anything that could be seen as slightly controversial is included in the episodes, and there are no censors at all in this set, so don't be surprised to hear a few f-words (not including the one that was the focus of the twelfth episode of the season) here and there. Runtimes are as follows.
Blu-ray Disc 1:
1. The Ring (22:16)
2. The Coon (22:15)
3. Margaritaville (22:15)
4. Eat, Pray, Queef (22:16)
5. Fishsticks (22:15)
6. Pinewood Derby (22:16)
7. Fatbeard (22:17)
Blu-ray Disc 2:
8. Dead Celebrities (22:16)
9. Butters' Bottom Bitch (22:15)
10. W.T.F. (22:15)
11. Whale Whores (22:15)
12. The F Word (22:15)
13. Dances with Smurfs (22:16)
14. Pee (22:16)
The Blu-ray version of the set comes in a two-disc set that is contained in a digipak, as has been the case for all of the previous releases. The front of the package has a picture of all of the boys, with Cartman holding a piece of paper that is somewhat similar to his pirate map in the episode "Fatbeard" with a yellow background. The back of the package has another picture of all of the boys (though it is missing Kenny for some reason) along with the basic information about the set. Inside, there is a four-panel digipak. The outside of the digipak has full panel pictures of scenes from the episodes on the set. Inside the digipak, the far left and far right panels have episode information, and the two interior panels have snapshots from the episodes "Fishsticks" and "Dances with Smurfs." These two snapshots are also depicted on the disc artwork, with Disc 1 containing the snapshot from "Fishsticks" and Disc 2 containing the snapshot from "Dances with Smurfs." Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, and Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14. The DVD version of the set, which was not available for review, contains three discs.
The main menu on each disc on the Blu-ray version contains video scenes from the episodes contained on the disc with the South Park "doomsday" music playing in the background. The options on the main menu include Play All, Episode Selection, Bonus Features, and Setup. Episode Selection shows all of the episodes on the disc, which pops up over part of the screen on the main menu (while the video continues to play), and Bonus Features (only on Disc 1) does the same thing. Setup allows you to adjust the audio (either Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Stereo) and also allows you to turn on commentary and subtitles. The pop-up menus (available only in the Blu-ray version) provide all of the same options with a slightly different appearance. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
The video and audio quality of the Blu-ray version of this set is spectacular. There are virtually no flaws at all to be found in the video, and everything is crystal clear and incredibly sharp. As for the audio, it is available in Dolby TrueHD as well as Dolby Digital Stereo. Unfortunately, as I do not have an elaborate home theater system, I was unable to experience the Dolby TrueHD version of the audio as it was intended to be, but I found that the Dolby Digital Stereo version was still spectacular, and was a lot better on my less low-tech setup. Each episode on the set contains English subtitles.
There are a few nice special features on the set (all of them are the same on both the Blu-ray and DVD version), though the set still falls somewhat short in the special features arena. The special features can be found on Disc 1 on the Blu-ray version. "Inside X-Box: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of South Park Studios" (4:35) is just a short behind-the-scenes tour of the production of the series. It is interesting to watch, but way too short. The set also contains several deleted scenes (7:14) that encompass the entire season. I don't believe that any of the previous releases have ever included any deleted scenes, so this is definitely a nice feature to see this time. Finally, the set contains brief audio commentaries from Matt Stone and Trey Parker on each episode, but as has been the case on the previous releases, these are way too short and not nearly insightful enough. Basically, they just come in for a few minutes at the beginning of the episode, then leave, which doesn't provide full insight into the episode, as a commentary should do.
This set is the very first Blu-ray that I have ever owned and watched. In fact, I purchased my very first Blu-ray player specifically for this review, and I have to say that this series was a great place to start on Blu-ray. I've never seen the episodes of the series in high definition (my cable company doesn't provide Comedy Central in high definition for some reason), and I have never before seen this series look so great. The set is virtually flawless (aside from the somewhat dismal special features), and really demonstrates the true glory of what Blu-ray is all about. I haven't seen the DVD version of this, but if past releases are an indicator, the episodes on that version should look great as well, although I would strongly recommend the Blu-ray version if you have a Blu-ray player. Head on up to South Park and meet these friends of mine!
-- Reviewed by skees53
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