Ralph Potts reviews the 18th season of this popular TV comedy that follows the misadventures of four irreverent grade-schoolers in the quiet, dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Comedy Central/Paramount HE – 2014
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 220 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Matt Stone, Trey Parker
Directed by: Trey Parker
Written by: Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Brian Graden
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 6, 2015
All ten episodes from South Park’s innovative 18th season are packed into this exclusive 2-disc set. Join Cartman, Kenny, Stan and Kyle as they get lost in virtual reality, go underground with **** Magic, uncover the shocking truth about a music superstar, and reach trendscendence with CARTMAN BRAAAH! Top that with some gluten-free Creator Commentary and never-before-seen deleted scenes, and you’ve got a box set even more legendary than Craig’s Mom’s bush.
I was late to the South Park phenomena and didn’t start watching it until a few years ago. I haven’t followed it religiously but catch up by recording them on my TIVO and watching when time permits. My kids are huge fans and have watching episodes from the show’s website but sorely miss the flexibility and commercial free option of Netflix streaming (which is no longer available much to their chagrin). This is a show unlike any other animated series, both in appearance and creative concept. It stretches the boundaries of propriety to its limits and could easily be offensive to those with thin skins. If you look at it for what it is you are sure to be rewarded with deep belly laughs at its unending barrage of crude themes, blunt use of language, and unconventional plots. No stone seems left unturned when it comes to poking fun at celebrities, politicians and society in general. Season 18 has its share of hilarious inappropriateness some of which is priceless.
This season puts the South Park spin on subjects like entrepreneurship, Twitter/Social Media/, the obsession/fervor over personally owned drones, viral videos, mobile video game addiction, the gluten free necessity and more. While it all sounds a bit ridiculous or absurd it has a proven formula that works. The four mischievous imps Eric, Kyle, Kenny, and Stan along with their parents/families/classmates provide us with much to laugh at. I think that what brings about such hilarity sometimes is how much the show makes us take a look at ourselves and some of life’s experiences that resemble those of the inhabitants of South Park. Note that I said SOME because I assure you that not all apply.
Regardless of whether you feel that way or not the show is entertaining, original and honest in its attempt to illicit audience reaction and that is where it succeeds. We caught all of this season’s episodes when they were originally broadcast but it was fun revisiting our favorites here. All 10 episodes are spread out over two Blu-ray Discs with Disc 1 containing episodes 1 through 5 and Disc 2 containing episodes 6 through 10. The set comes housed in a flimsy cardboard foldout keep case with matching slipcover.
This show contains thematic elements and language that would be inappropriate for young viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
South Park: The Complete Eighteenth Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 14 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Channel sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.
This is a great looking video presentation that boasts snappy, vibrant colors that enhance the show’s animated elements. Images are razor sharp with clear definition that brings out plenty of subtle delineation in the characters and backgrounds. This was evident in the patterned texture in the clothing worn by the kids. A similar pattern is shared by objects, backgrounds and to varying degrees in the clothing, hair and other characters. The show’s one dimensional animation doesn’t offer much in terms of depth of image but resolution was excellent which enhanced the perception of small details onscreen. I was impressed with the shading, contrast, and blacks which noticeably stood out compared to the standard backgrounds/scenery typically seen. Other than some minor color banding I didn’t see any video related artifacts worth noting.
The show doesn’t have the type of sound that calls for demanding multi-channel audio but this Dolby TrueHD surround mix certainly made the most of it. Dialogue had lucid distinction and requisite clarity through the center channel so that it maintained a prominent position within the front soundstage. Channel separation and directional spacing across the front three channels was quite good. The track has a front dominant perspective however the surrounds were used effectively to open up the sound field to enhance spatial presence. The show’s music is spread out over the entire system and supplies most of the room filling sound which is nicely underscored by punchy bass that accentuates impact. Detail and clarity were discerning which elevated the perception of smaller sounds within the recording. This mix won’t will blow you away but for an animated TV series it sounded great.
- Mini audio commentary by Matt Stone and Trey Parker on each episode
- Deleted scenes
- *Blu-ray Exclusive* #Social Commentary on each episode
- Season 18 Episode listing:
- 1801: Go fund yourself
- 1802: Gluten free ebola
- 1803: The cissy
- 1804: Handicar
- 1805: The magic bush
- 1806: Freemium isn’t free
- 1807: Grounded vindaloop
- 1808: **** magic
- 1809: #Rehash
- 1810: #Happyholograms
South Park: The Complete 18th Season is another successful installment in the continuing misadventures of the gang from this rather bizarre little town. The show’s crude style of humor may not appeal to everyone but if given half a chance Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Eric will succeed at drawing you into their world. This two disc season 18 set comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount looking and sounding great. The lack of bonus supplements is a disappointment although Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s commentary on each episode never fails to entertain. As a fan I am glad to add this to my collection and applaud Paramount for bringing it to Blu-ray Disc in typical high quality fashion. Enjoy!
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package