South Park: Season 6 review (DVD)

Here's the thing. South Park is brilliant, one of the cleverest shows on TV. Ever. There is no denying that. Why, then, is it not shown on television in the UK? And why is Season 6 being released on DVD some SIX YEARS after it was made? Six years, when the average DVD window these days is 2-3 months. And the release comes almost THREE YEARS after it was out on DVD in Region 1. And topping it all off is the fact that the first episode from Season 12 aired in the US just the other day (an episode in which Cartman catches AIDS and then gives it to Kyle). Dude, that's fucked up right there.

Enough whinging. South Park is finally being released on Region 2 DVD, which is better than not being released at all. And Season 6, while not the strongest series of the show, is still far and away better than 98% of what passes for TV these days. But it's weird going back in time and seeing these early episodes again — where Chef is still alive, Mr Garrison is still a man and Kenny is still dead. As you know (if you either live outside the UK or you're a bittorrenter), Kenny died at the end of Season 5. Yes, I hear you say, they kill Kenny in every episode. Well, for a start, they don't — not any more. And this time they decided to leave him dead. So as Season 6 opens, the remaining boys — Stan, Kyle and Cartman — are looking for a new friend to take Kenny's place. First they give Butters a tryout, but he's soon sacked (and so creates his evil alter ego, Professor Chaos, to seek revenge). Then the over-caffeinated Tweak gets a shot. But Kenny is not entirely absent. Towards the latter part of the season, in an episode called A Ladder to Heaven, Cartman mistakes Kenny's ashes for chocolate milk mix, drinks him and becomes posessed with Kenny's spirit.

It's nice, for a change, to see a story arc in South Park. But that doesn't stop the usual outrageous and (to some) offensive skewering of society's norms and sacred cows. Under attack this time are paedophile priests (Red Hot Catholic Love), parental paranoia (Child Abduction Is Not Funny), Hollywood directors such as Spielberg and Lucas who go back and mess with their old films (Free Hat), political correctness gone mad (The Death Camp of Tolerance, which also introduces the characters Mr Slave and Lemmiwinks the brave gerbil) and Russell Crowe's prediliction for punchups (The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer). But for me, the highlight of the season is The Simpsons Already Did It. Butters (as Professor Chaos) is trying to come up with ways to get revenge on South Park. But every idea he has is met with the cry of "The Simpsons did it" from his sidekick, General Disarray. As Matt and Trey explain in their (brief) commentary, because The Simpsons has been on air for so long, this keeps happening to them — ideas for episodes are met with "The Simpsons already did that" from the writers' room. So they built an episode araound it, as you would. But the lovely thing, seeing this epsiode again, is that now the roles have been switched; The Simpsons is following South Park when it comes to clever ideas. The best example is the South Park episode Make Love Not Warcraft from Season 10, in which the boys get addicted to the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft. A year later came the Simpsons episode Marge Gamer, in which Marge gets addicted to an online multiplayer game. So how long till we see a Simpsons episode called South Park Already Did It?

EXTRAS * Weak, guys. All we get are some commentaries. Which would be fine if, like with The Simpsons DVDs, each commentary ran for the full episode. But they don't — Matt and Trey can only be bothered hanging around for the first 4-5 minutes of each. Which is a shame, because I'm sure these two would have plenty to say. But we'll never know.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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