South Park: Season 15
A couple of early season stumbles are recovered from to give us some classic episodes.
South Park has really developed from an almost underground, anarchic comedy to fully-blown cult status over its many seasons, and the 15th finds Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman in typically subversive mood.
The show has taken a noticeable arc throughout its history, which is only natural when Trey Parker and Matt Stone have spent fifteen years of their lives with these characters. This season finds the pair taking on the now famous “6 days to air” method, (outlined in a documentary in the extras), whereby an episode is taken from script to air in less than a week, ensuring a cutting topicality which is at times frustratingly scattergun, and at others bang on target. An unfortunate side effect of this is an occasionally noticeable creative fatigue (the pair were juggling this season with their stage show The Book of Mormon), which is directly addressed in the mid-season finale “You’re Getting Old” – that episode’s look at age heralding a type of jaded cynicism leading fans to speculate at the time that this season would be the last.
Of course, the show retains its trademark controversial humour, taking on everyday subjects with an aggressive verve that had been somewhat muted in previous seasons. “The Human Centipad” is perhaps the highlight of this series, although “Bass to Mouth” and “Crack Baby Athletic Association” do run it close. Some episodes are clearly weaker, with “Funnybot” barely raising a giggle, and “1%” suffering from a cripplingly unfunny main strand, rescued by a brilliant Cartman storyline which may just be one of South Park’s finest character moments of all time. A couple of duds can be forgiven across a season though, and overall it has to be said that season 15 did mark a return to form for the boys from Colorado, particularly in the second half of the season, which contains some of the most laugh-out-loud humour we’ve seen from South Park in years.
The bonus features represent a good selection, with mini-commentaries from Parker and Stone giving an extra dimension to things, and the aforementioned behind-the-scenes documentaries providing an interesting look at the creative process behind the show.
For fans of the show, these extras make South Park Season 15 a more than worthy purchase, with UK viewers likely to get an extra kick out of the episode “Royal Pudding” – which sets its sights on the Royal Wedding craze of last year. A few early season stumbles threaten to affect the enjoyment, but with a second half containing some of the best episodes of South Park in its entire run, we’re just glad that season 16 has so far continued in the same vein.