They really have my balls in a Salad Shooter…
How do you top a season of television that contains singing excrement, homosexual canines, and cross-species breeding? With homicidal goldfish, underpants gnomes, and raging cases of herpes!
South Park: The Complete Second Season chronicles another season of adventures for everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed eight-year-olds — Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Kenny McCormick, and Eric Cartman. Holy crap, dude!
[Editor’s Note: This review assumes that you are a South Park fan and therefore are not readily offended. I quote its salty dialogue liberally. You’ve been warned.]
* “Terrance & Phillip in Not Without My Anus”
“Ah ha ha ha, that fart sounded like a ringing phone, Terrance.”
“It sure did, Phillip!”
“Oh wait, that is the phone.”
Terrance and Phillip, the Canadian television duo known for their flatulence, must travel to Iraq to rescue Terrance’s daughter, taken hostage by Saddam Hussein. Oh, and Scott’s a dick.
Grade: C. Terrance and Phillip, like The Simpsons’ Itchy and Scratchy, are best in small doses. Really small. In fact, the only redeeming quality of this ep is Saddam’s antics. He lies with a smile to everyone’s face, then stabs them in the back. Life imitates art. Fans reacted poorly to the episode, which only aired once. Season One ended with a cliffhanger, and this ep aired on April Fool’s Day instead of the expected “who is Cartman’s father?” episode.
* “Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut”
“Hey, I thought of something! Uh, no, wait, that’s subtraction.”
In the real second season opener, we discover who Cartman’s father is. But this only prompts the question — who is Cartman’s mother?
Grade: D. The announcer shtick is played out within minutes, yet they keep flogging the dead horse of a joke. The drunken barn dance just isn’t funny. Um, yeah, nothing really else to say. Oh, the ending? Two words: cop out!
“Boring. Boring. Gay. Boring.”
Somebody’s being intimate with the town’s chickens. Officer Barbrady’s having problems solving the case because he’s illiterate. He takes a leave of absence and returns to grade school, and the kids are deputized. Naturally, the power goes to Cartman’s head. Respect his authority!
Grade: B+. The main bestiality story just isn’t very funny. I mean, really, what’s funny about sex with poultry? Everything surrounding it, though, is pretty damn funny, like Mr. Garrison’s teaching methods (“Wrong, dumbass!”), the television news coverage of the events, Barbrady’s book report, and especially Cartman’s forays into law enforcement (“Poor people tend to live in clusters,” he says to the Cops film crew while responding to a domestic disturbance call at Kenny’s house).
* “Ike’s Wee Wee”
“The fireman is very magical. If you rub his helmet, he spits in your eye.”
Kyle’s little adopted Canadian brother, Ike, is going to have a bris. Chef’s description leads the guys to think that his penis is going to be cut off. Kyle ships him to Nebraska, where he’s mistaken for a trashcan. Meanwhile, Mr. Mackey is fired, mmmkay, and descends into a drug-fueled spiral.
Grade: B+. There’s tons of great quotable lines (“There’s a time and place for everything, and that place is college,” “No, it’s not ham, you fat f***!”). Watching Mr. Mackey’s tripping is great, especially considering how quickly he backs down from his ironclad “drugs are bad, mmmkay” message. It fails to be a great episode because, well, because I hate Kyle’s mom. Remember that song from the movie? My thoughts exactly.
* “Conjoined Fetus Lady”
“Hey! I get quite disturbed when you call me that. You shouldn’t make fun of foreigners. And besides, I hate French people.”
The South Park dodgeball team goes to the world championships, thanks to Pip’s repressed anger and other teams forfeiting in their wake. Meanwhile, the town overcompensates for the school nurse’s “disability” — a dead fetus attached to her face.
Grade: B+. Okay, so how did Ms. Crabtree drive the schoolbus to China? That’s the sort of thing that makes South Park great. But, like other episodes, the “A” story line is the least funny aspect.
* “The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka”
“We have a terrific show for you today: we’re gonna kill some elk, and we’re gonna kill some mountain goats. Now, the new law passed by Colorado legislature, which Ned and I call ‘Pussy Law #4,’ states that we can no longer kill animals in defense. In other words, our old line of ‘It’s comin’ right for us’ no longer works.”
The kids get pissed off at Stan’s Uncle Jimbo for telling them unbelievable stories about his experiences in Vietnam. So, they prank him by sending in faked videos of the Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka, a hideous creature that puts you in a coma just by making eye contact. Jimbo’s show becomes a raging success, forcing South Park’s other public access show, “Jesus and Pals,” to retool its format.
Grade: A-. As sacrilegious as it may seem to some, I’ve always loved that Jesus Christ (yes, that Jesus Christ) lived in South Park and ran a call-in cable access talk show. His reactions to his producer’s attempts to turn his show into a Jerry Springer-esque freak parade are some of the funniest material in this season. The kids’ videotaped frog segments are hilarious, especially Cartman dressed as an old lady. And while I didn’t use it for the pull quote above, this episode has one of my all-time favorite lines from the show: “We have to kill these animals, or else they’ll die!”
* “City on the Edge of Forever”
“SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! I SAID ‘QUIET,’ OR ELSE I KILL THE BUNNY!”
(Note: The disc lists this episode’s title as “Flashbacks,” but it was originally broadcast with the cribbed-from-Star Trek title above.) The kids are trapped on the school bus during an avalanche and spend their time reminiscing about their adventures. Only problem is, their memories aren’t very good.
Grade: B-. Clip show suck, unless you’re The Simpsons, and this isn’t The Simpsons. But at least Trey Parker and Matt Stone deserve props for making the clips more or less entirely different than how they originally aired, and everyone gets ice cream!
* “Summer Sucks”
“Hey! If you so much as touch Kitty’s ass, I’ll put firecrackers in your nutsack and blow your balls out all over your panties!”
At least summer sucks without fireworks (except snakes), which the boys have played with since they were just wee lads. But, the Mayor solves that dilemma by commissioning the largest snake in the world. Meanwhile, Cartman takes swimming lessons with first graders who pee in the pool, Uncle Jimbo travels to Mexico to buy illegal fireworks, and Mr. Garrison loses Mr. Hat and must come to terms with his sexuality.
Grade: B-. First-graders peeing in the pool: great. Mr. Garrison not accepting that he’s gay: great. The flashback to the boys as toddlers: priceless. The little man in the boat: better than priceless. The snake “A” plot: lame. There seems to be a trend here.
* “Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls”
“They’re not gonna show that stupid-ass Godzilla movie again, are they?”
“No no, Kyle. These are independent films.”
“Oh, like Independence Day? That sucked ass, too.”
“No, dude, independent films are those black and white hippie movies. They’re always about gay cowboys eating pudding.”
The Sundance Film Festival outgrows Utah and moves to South Park. The boys learn the pain of watching independent films, and Mr. Hankey makes a poo-fueled comeback.
Grade: B-. The send-up of pretentious indie films is well deserved, but an entire episode revolving around Mr. Hankey’s health and well being? Sorry, that just stretches an already thin character to the breaking point. Give me Towelie any day.
“We don’t have a Nintendo. We got a ColecoVision hooked up to the black-and-white TV.”
“Oh my God. This is like a third-world country.”
The boys’ moms dupe them into getting chickenpox from Kenny. When they find out that it’s a form of herpes, they retaliate by giving their parent the real thing.
Grade: C+. While the “Kenny is poor” jokes never get old, and Kyle’s dose of Nietzschian philosophy earns a few uncomfortable chuckles, what’s funny about herpes?
* “Roger Ebert Should Lay off the Fatty Foods”
“Okay, children, now I’m going to remind you that this is a planetarium, not a Bangkok brothel. Let’s behave ourselves.”
Strange deeds are afoot at the planetarium, and it’s up to the kids to save the town. All the kids except Cartman, who’s too busy auditioning to sing the Cheesy Poofs theme song in a commercial.
Grade: A-. How can you go wrong with that title, which has precious little to do with the episode? The episode is one big parody of a Star Trek episode, which makes it even better. And who knew that you could use haiku to insult people?
“You men are all alike! First you get a cookie and then you criticize the way I dress and then it’s the way I cook! I suppose next you’ll be telling me that you need your space and that I’m sabotaging your creativity! Go ahead, Stanley. Get your goddamn cookie!”
The boys discover the time-honored tradition of Truth or Dare, and Stan’s parents have marital problems.
Grade: C+. Other than the Ewok Village 2000 and the ’90s version of Fat Albert, not a lot going for it.
* “Cow Days”
“Tom and Mary, put on your cowboy hats, because you’re going to beautiful South Park, Colorado! That’s right, just in time for Cows Days, the world’s 45th biggest rodeo and carnival. Every fall, South Park celebrates Cow Days, and you’re gonna be a part of it. You’ll stay at the spectacular Super 7 hotel on Bernhardt Road, and enjoy festivities, including prizes, rides, and of course, the world-famous Running of the Cows! Congratulations, Tom and Mary.”
The kids fight a crooked carney booth, Cartman’s bull riding fall turns him into a Vietnamese prostitute straight out of Full Metal Jacket, and the cows find religion. Dare you enter the Chamber of Farts?
Grade: B+. Someone would declare shenanigans if I didn’t give this episode at least a B.
* “Chef Aid”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does NOT MAKE SENSE! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.”
Alanis Morisette’s latest hit is a rip-off of one Chef wrote during his rock ‘n’ roll days. So, of course, he finds himself sued by the music industry and the kids must raise money for his legal defense.
Grade: B+. The episode is little more than an excuse to parade out a long line of B-level rock dignitaries, everyone from Rick James to Primus, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“So you just built your store on top of an Indian burial ground?”
“Oh, hell no! First I dug up all the bodies, pissed on ’em, then buried them again upside down.”
“Why? I don’t know. I was drunk.”
Stan’s mom’s Aunt Flo buys him a goldfish from Indian Burial Ground Pet Store. It’s from an evil parallel universe and begins killing people. Other residents of the parallel universe invade South Park as well.
Grade: A+. If it weren’t for “Gnomes,” “Spooky Fish” would be the best episode of the season. There’s not a sour note here, from the endless persecution of Barbra Streisand, to the boys from the parallel universe having goatees (like Spock in the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”), to the conceit of the murderous goldfish. There’s even the old-fashioned seam down the middle of the screen when both Cartmans are seen together. Best Scene Award goes to Stan and Kyle walking down the sidewalk with Evil Cartman. Some evil ducks peck a guy to death. The kids stop to watch, then when it’s over, start walking again like it was the most normal thing ever. This episode is just hella cool.
* “Merry Christmas Charlie Manson”
“This is Robert Pooner reporting live from Nebraska, where escaped convict Charlie Manson has walled himself up in a house. We understand that there are hostages, and that the situation is critical, so we would like to remind you all that this live hostage crisis is being brought to you by Palmoral Sun Block. Remember, if it isn’t Palmoral, you’re gonna get cancer.”
Charles Manson escapes from prison and visits Cartman’s grandmother’s house while the boys are staying there for the holidays. Hilarity ensues.
Grade: D. Okay, so hilarity does not ensue. I really don’t care for this episode much, other than the South Park version of It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart calling Mr. Potter “a little bitch.” Probably would’ve been funnier with Jeffrey Dahmer.
“Damn, dude, this place is huge.”
“Yeah, it’s almost as big as Cartman’s ass.”
“No it’s not, you guys!”
The kids learn all about big corporations from the Underpants Gnomes. Step One: Collect underpants. Step Two:…Step Three: Profit!
Grade: A+. This is my second-favorite episode of the entire series, behind Season Seven’s “Casa Bonita.” Why? Because of the gnomes’ three-step business plan, which reminds me of most of the dot-com business plans. Because it features Tweek, one of my favorite of the ancillary kids. Because it ably demonstrates that big corporations are a necessary part of modern economics. Because it’s just damn funny. You’re the pussy, pussy!
* “Prehistoric Ice Man”
“As you can see, the ice man is listening to Ace of Base, which was a very popular group during his era, and primitive drummings soothed his people’s tempers.”
The kids find a man frozen in a block of ice. Resident Mad Scientist Mephisto dates him all the way back to 1996. The boys feel sorry for him and try to release him back into the wild, but it’s hard for a man who has been frozen for three years to readjust to normal life.
Grade: B-. You wouldn’t think that Encino Man could be mined to comedic effect, but leave it to South Park to pull it off. While not the funniest episode ever, it gets props for recreating the ice man’s habitat, including Super Bowl tapes, a Fargo movie poster, and, of course, Ace of Base.
Comedy Central presents all 18 Season Two episodes on three discs. Video is its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It’s a fairly low 5.55Mb/sec, but the purposely crude animation doesn’t require much. Lines are crisp, and there is no visible digital noise or pixelization. It looks as good as it would from digital satellite or cable. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. It has no noticeable hiss or distortion and suits the material, but is otherwise unremarkable.
Extras include episode introductions, a music video, and a documentary. The episode intros appear on just a few episodes, and were recorded for the original VHS release. They feature Trey and Matt doing crazy stuff like haranguing old people or feeding bacon to a pig. The music video is for “Salty Chocolate Balls.” It’s the long version of the song, and the video is animated. Ho-hum. The documentary, “Goin’ Down to South Park,” clocks in at 50 minutes and details the whole South Park phenomenon, from Trey and Matt’s college days, to Orgazmo, to “The Spirit of Christmas” and the original pilot. It goes into quite a bit of detail, and of course is a riot.
South Park fans know what they’re in for, and for them South Park: The Complete Second Season is a must-own. For everyone else, you should know that a show this crass and crude is going to polarize its audience. Catch it on cable before committing cash to a purchase.