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Reviewed by Jamey Codding
t’s no surprise that compilation DVD sets of popular television shows are in such high demand these days. In the “dark ages,” you needed exceptional timing and plenty of sheer luck to actually capture one of your favorite episodes on a VHS tape, and then, sure enough, one of your buddies winds up taping something like “Tin Cup” over those cherished shows (a true story, believe it or not). These days, though, you can simply purchase full seasons of your favorite programs on multiple-DVD collections, and even if some of those sets are pretty thin in the special features department, having instant access to each episode makes it easier to overlook that one blemish.
Such is the case with “South Park: The Complete Second Season.” The 18 original season-two episodes represent the true treasure in this three-disc chest, beginning with the April Fool’s episode, “Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus,” and concluding with “Prehistoric Ice Man.” Unfortunately, the included bonus features are even weaker than those on the season-one set.
Following its infinitely successful inaugural run on Comedy Central in 1997, “South Park” had a mountain of expectations to conquer in season two. Needless to say, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show’s creators, delivered with flying insults and untamed humor starting with episode 201, the Terrance and Phillip prank that aired on April 1 in place of the promised conclusion to season one’s cliffhanger finale.
But that’s just the beginning. In “Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut,” the expected season premiere, the identity of Eric Cartman’s long lost father is finally revealed with a demented twist only Matt and Trey could cook up; in “Chickenlover,” we see Cartman uphold the sanctity of police brutality while riding around town on his big wheel looking for the pervert who’s defiling South Park’s poultry; Stan Marsh and Kyle Brofslovski build a tree house so they can play truth or dare with Wendy and Bebe in “Clubhouses”; and the boys encounter “evil” versions of themselves from another dimension in the Halloween episode, “Spookyfish.” Of course, those are just a few of the highlights – every last one of this set’s 18 episodes is hilarious.
But, as noted earlier, there’s nothing special about the “special” features, which are all included on the third disc. You’ve got two to choose from: Chef’s “Chocolate Salty Balls” music video and the “Goin’ Down to South Park” documentary. Now, by themselves these extras are both enjoyable, but we want more. The 50-minute documentary is especially interesting, detailing the show’s rise to fame while also offering a short glimpse at the surprisingly elaborate animation process. Additionally, we learn that celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and Jerry Seinfeld have all wanted to do voices for the show and that, at the time of the filming, the program had generated more than $300 million in merchandising revenue alone. Unfortunately, “Goin’ Down to South Park” would’ve been much improved had more time been devoted to the animation – Comedy Central execs should’ve taken notes on how Pixar tackles their “making of…” features. Granted, the animation for “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” is much more complex, but the creation process for “South Park” is nonetheless fascinating.
Of course, the brief episode intros from Matt and Trey could theoretically be branded as “special features.” Sure, you’ll find a few laughs sprinkled throughout these bits, but as was the case with the first-season collection, you’ll soon be skipping over them to get to the selected episodes.
My main beef with the season-one DVDs was the dearth of quality extras but, remarkably, there are even fewer features on this release, dropping it from a probable five-star collection down to four. In the end, though, the 18 season-two episodes are more than enough to satiate any die-hard “South Park” fan. Just don’t expect much beyond that.