“Going on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.”
After 20 years or more, they really do feel like friends. I’ve known Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny longer than most real people in my life. Only the Simpsons have been around longer these days. Over those years South Park has always been a series of stories that rarely connect with each other in any significant way. There have been multi-part episodes, and certain experiences have come back up over the years. Still, we’re talking about a universe where killing Kenny had become a running joke and happened pretty much in every episode. Those days are gone, and it’s been a while since Kenny met his demise, and now South Park has joined the ranks of the continuing story season. I do believe that’s one of the signs of the Apocalypse. I’m just sayin’.
This season is so different that I feel I have to break away from my own traditional South Park review format of providing you with The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Certainly there are still episodes that fit each category. But times have changed, and I guess these reviews must change with them. That said, prepare for a pretty much standard kind of review for South Park The Complete 19th Season.
The season begins with Principal Victoria fired for making an offensive remark about Bill Cosby. Her replacement is Principal PC, and he’s going to change the culture of South Park Elementary and the entire community. That means you’re in big trouble if you don’t turn PC. Just stating that Caitlin Jenner is not a hero means a school suspension and becoming a social outcast. Even Cartman gets in on the act. He posts a selfie of himself in his underwear expecting encouraging reactions. But when he’s body-slammed, Butters ends up having to monitor Cartman’s social media to remove anything negative and deliver a daily report of only the good stuff. Everybody else opted for two weeks detention rather than do the job. Unfortunately, Butters proves so good at the job that he ends up forced to provide the service for hundreds of people. The culture is indeed changing, but why is PC Principal really there? More on that later.
Randy pushes for a gentrified/historical district in South Park to prove the town is PC when Jimmy Fallon makes fun of South Park because Garrison runs for president as a kind of over-the-top Trump spoof. Randy figures the special area of shops and housing will attract a Whole Foods, which will solve all of their problems. So they turn the area around Kenny’s house into a place called Sodosopa. Of course, that leads to everyone being priced out of their own city. One of the highlights of the season is the trendy spoof ads for the district. Their funny because of how spot-on they are for trendy city districts like this.
Finally, we discover that ads have become sentient, and only Jimmy can see through a girl who is really an ad that evolved. It all leads to a rather fun showdown and a complicated reveal about PC Principal and an ongoing battle for survival against the sentient ads.
If you’re worried that the show spends all of its energy building to the “mythological” arc of the show, take a breath. There are still some antics with the boys that lead to highlights of the season. One of the best starts with the boys playing Ninja, which is misinterpreted by the adults as a sign they’ve been brainwashed by ISIS. A return of Officer Barbary ties in after he accidentally shoots a kid at the school and now is the only man they can turn to to take out the “ISIS” kids. The episode, of course, plays into the police shooting controversies, and I’m glad to say it shows the side of the cops as well. South Park is happy to lose their cops until vagrants and crime start to take over the town.
Other “antics”-style episodes include an episode on Yaoi art that depicts Tweak and Craig as gay. It leads to a belief in the town that it is the Japanese who somehow decide who in the world is gay and who is not. Jimmy gets tired of censorship from all of the PC and decides to publish his own paper off campus to avoid the rules. The paper takes off because it has no ads. When Jimmy won’t give in to the ads, the whole war starts with Jimmy as the hero.
I think it was a good idea. At first it brought a bit of a moan as I started and realized what they were doing. Instead it ended up being more clever on a more consistent basis than the show’s been for a year. There was much less of a hit-or-miss factor. Of course, that could have backfired if the arc had been in the miss category. It didn’t. There are quite a few social issues that get cleverly intertwined for a change.
Each episode of South Park is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors are fantastically bright in this 1080p image. Brought to you by a solid AVC/MPEG-4 codec, the picture certainly looks as good as it ever did. You can really appreciate those special things like the comic frames. This is starting to look better with each year. Not bad for what started out as construction paper cutouts. The look remains, but there’s no question that the boys are using the latest in technology to look so old-school.
The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track is perfect. There’s some high-flying music and wonderfully immersive ambient sounds. Otherwise, the audio differs mostly in the greater range of dynamics to the sound to the DVD. It certainly felt much fuller than the standard DVD.
Social Media Text Commentary
Season Commentary: (26:50) The duo change the way they deliver commentary this season. Instead of a five-minute mini-commentary on each episode, they do a longer one to clips of the season. It’s a separate feature that doesn’t run during any of the episodes.
“Change or die” is the mantra in entertainment. South Park has appeared rather immune to that kind of reality. Perhaps Trey and Matt have decided to get out in front of things just in case. I’m not sure if I like the idea of this being the complete future for the show. But let’s see where it goes. Evolution has finally caught up to the old gang. “Reality, who let him in?”