The boys are at it again in Season 8 of South Park. To say that this season provides more of the same would be a tad unfair. It appears to me that South Park optimally matures in its eighth year. No, not that kind of maturity. Cartman and the gang are as raunchy as ever, and yes, still at times over the top. The kind of maturity I refer to is more subtle. South Park no longer has to rely on the running gags epitomized by the old Kenny deaths. The show isn’t afraid to feature some of the more peripheral characters. …utters, Timmy, and Jimmy get a lot more to do, and I find them suddenly to be far more compelling characters. No longer simply foils for the usual suspects, they have come into their own. A good example can be found in “Up The Down Steroid”. While Cartman and one of his schemes are appropriately the center of the episode, the Timmy and Jimmy characters have some outstanding moments. “AWESOM-O” brings us face to face with a more endearing Butters. I must say that in this year of South Park I found myself enjoying these moments considerably. More than adding some dimension to the series, it has, I believe, given the show stronger legs leading into the years that follow.
Each South Park episode is presented in its original television full frame format. Expect pretty much the same as previous seasons. This stuff is pretty much created in a digital environment, and it shows. Colors are bright, or at least as bright as simulated construction paper gets.
Don’t expect much from this simple Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Still, what the heck do we need fancy surrounds for on South Park. As long as I can hear Cartman, life is good. I do wish that they would avoid the bleep noises on home releases. We’re fair warned about language, so what’s the point?
Stone and Parker are back with their “commentary minis”.
Certainly South Park can get tired. This year’s Christmas episode was particularly weak. “Cartman’s Incredible Gift” also falls far short of the potential genius any Cartman loaded episode has going for it. South Park seems to be at its best when it doesn’t try too hard. Stone and Parker seem to acknowledge as much in a few of their minis. I can’t count how many times they tell us that time was running out and they didn’t have any ideas. It is that spontaneity that usually brings out the best in the show. One might think they would have figured this out by now and quit struggling so hard to push the preverbal envelope. South Park hasn’t “jumped The Shark” quite yet, but there are times I hear a familiar John Williams score slowly creeping up behind me. And I begin to think to myself “Son of a …”
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