"South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season" Blu-ray Review
April 07, 2010 by James Harvey
South Park has truly evolved since its initial seasons and it’s the most evident in this collection of the show’s thirteenth season. Thankfully, at the same time, the show has not lost any of the humor and sharp perception that has made it a fan favorite, but a controversial series at times. Here, in this latest collection of the famed cartoon show, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker once again take a well-deserved swing at plenty of today’s current topics and trends and, thankfully, nearly every one is a successful home run out of the park!
All fourteen uncensored episodes from South Park’s thirteenth season are now available in this exclusive two-disc Blu-ray collection. Enjoy the latest bizarre South Park going-ons in full high-definition Blu-ray! Roll with the boys as they save the economy, the whales, and a bunch of dead celebrities all while discovering the joys of Fish Sticks. For them, now matter how disturbing or flat-out wrong things may get at times, it’s all part of growing up in South Park!
Whether it's well-timed parodies, such as their hilarious version of Avatar, or a jarring look at today's social climate with the episode “Margaritaville,” South Park just can't miss. Yes, some episodes can be a bit underwhelming, but the quality manages to stay pretty consistent throughout the entire season. It’s a testament to the creative team that, time and time again, they’re able to just keep coming back with these rock-solid send-offs of today’s way of life. Sure, some of the episodes become quickly dated due to the events parodied, but the excellent writing gives them a definite rewatchability.
It's just another solid season from the South Park guys, plain and simple. I find that they’ve managed to grow where other shows, like The Simpsons, find themselves stuck or slipping. Sure, continuity and a relevant timetable are now chucked out the window completely, but it doesn't matter here because the show doesn't play on that. Continuity, in a way, both matters and doesn't matter. Past events are referenced but not in a way that makes the continuity of the series crumble. But, at the same time, there's been about ten or eleven Christmas episodes and these boys have only gone through two grades at school. Granted, they could be failing horribly, but it just works here and doesn't really matter anyway. Speaking of which, I’m surprised at the lack of a Christmas episode this year, though it’s hard to beat something like “Woodland Christmas Critters.”
Regardless, it's a solid season but not a perfect season. I found myself, after watching the entire season through, going back to revisit certain episodes, but skipping over others. Some are forgettable, but even the worst of episodes will elicit a healthy dose of laughter. I think that while the comedy is what draws many to this series, this season provides a great example of why people come back year after year – the show’s ability to stay fresh. While other series, such as The Simpsons, has understandably slid in quality over the last few years, South Park has managed to successfully dodge that bullet. I can hardly think of any other series that has managed to remain on the forefront, on top of everything, like this show. South Park is truly a unique beast, even after thirteen years. The show manages to adapt to the times so effortlessly, even in look and feel. Watching this season in Blu-ray is something of a marvel when you look at just how great this show looks.
Episodes featured on South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season include “The Ring,” “The Coon,” “Margaritaville,” “Eat, Pray, Queef,” “Fish Sticks,” “Pinewood Derby,” “Fatbeard,” “Dead Celebrities,” “Butters’ Bottom Bitch,” “W.T.F.,” “Whale Whores,” “The F Word,” “Dances with Smurfs,” and “Pee.”
To pick out a few episodes in particular, I find the likes of “The Ring,” “The Coon,” “Fish Stick,” “Dead Celebrities,” “Butters’ Bottom Bitch,” “W.T.F.” and “Dances with Smurfs” the undeniable highlights of the season. These, to me, are just must-see South Park episodes. The other episodes included in this set are also worth a watch, such as “Margaritavilla,” but these listed above stick out as easily the best of the best. The whole season is completely rewatchable, some episodes over and over, but these seven episodes contain probably the sharpest writing of the thirteenth season, including the infamous Kanye West episode “Fish Sticks.” “Dances with Smurfs” takes a great hard look at some of the current practices in today’s news media, brutal at times but frightening true. Thankfully, South Park is very much an equal-opportunity offender, skewering both sides of any issue they tackle, which likely allowed the show to amass not only such a huge audience, but a diverse one, as well.
As with past seasons, South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season continues to show just how sharp this animated series manages to be, year after year. There’s truly no show like it, nor any show that has been able to survive like it. Very few shows can keep such a momentum flowing for as long as South Park. Managing to keep a show fresh year after year is no easy task, and both creators Stone and Parker truly do deserve the accolades they receive in keeping this show so attuned to modern life. The main characters may never age, and things may never truly change in South Park, but this show manages to grow almost episode to episode. Whether you’re new to the series and have been watching since the very beginning, South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season comes Highly Recommended and worthy of being added to anyone’s home collection.
Moving on to Paramount Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season, the studio has whipped up a stunning package. Housed inside a snappy cardboard digipack, similar to the packaging used since the very first South Park season set release, the entire season is collected on two Blu-ray discs.
Looking at the audio and video first, South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season looks simply magnificent. Paramount Home Entertainment has really gone all out, it seems, with the audio and video coming off as absolutely polished. Believe me, the broadcast versions of these episodes have absolutely nothing on the quality here. The high-definition video suffers from slight aliasing and color banding, but the quality is hard to dismiss. Everything pops here, every single color imaginable. It’s quite easy to get lost in the detail from time to time, marveling at how this show really has changed since it started up all those years ago. The evolution of the show’s look, as technology keeps moving forward, it apparent and quite a sight to see at times. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack manages to surprise here, providing a nice dose of audio atmosphere for what is, essentially, a very center-speaker based show. It’s a surprising mix that allows both the dialogue and assorted special effects to come out crystal clear time and time again. South Park has never sounded so good as it does here.
Moving on to the extras, we get a small collection of bonus features that should really be of no surprise to regular consumers of these South Park releases. While the home video collection of season twelve increased the level of bonus features to an almost overwhelming degree, here we’re brought back to the usual levels fans have come to expect. Personally, I find the level acceptable because, well, we do get a nice helping of behind-the-scenes info that never gets boring or overdrawn. We get the “commentary minis” for each episode, though “Margaritaville” is boosted as an extended commentary, a collection of deleted scenes from a handful of episodes, and the brief four-minute “Inside Xbox: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of South Park Studios” behind-the-scenes featurette. A small collection, yes, but it features a nice rundown of South Park’s production.
Another stellar season of South Park means another top-notch collection from Paramount Home Entertainment, even better thanks to the high-definition Blu-ray format. While the extras may not match what Paramount added to the previous season release, what we get here is quite sufficient I find, and along the lines of previous South Park home video releases. We get a great season here with South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season , including excellent audio and video transfers, and shouldn’t be missed by fans of the show or those looking for some smart television to add to their collection. As you can guess, this release comes Highly Recommended.
South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.