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Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray Disc review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Blu-ray Disc)

Buy this Blu-ray now at Amazon!

South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season
2009 (2010) - Comedy Central (Paramount)
Released on Blu-ray on March 16th, 2010
Also available on DVD

Dolby TrueHD

Program Rating: B+
Video (1-20): 19
Audio (1-20): 19
Extras: C+

South Park has given us thirteen years of consistent humor and spot-on social commentary. You'd have to travel far and wide to find another television show that binds jokes about reality shows, superheroes, dead celebrities, evil corporations, prostitution and Jim Cameron's Avatar with the surreal life of a gang of potty-mouthed middle schoolers.

No one should ever underestimate the skills of Matt Stone, Trey Parker and their team of animators, because in the end South Park is pure magic. It may not be for everyone, but no one can deny that South Park has consistently brought the funny each and every year they've been on air. And we look forward to many more to come.

Season 13: The Episodes

The Ring, The Coon, Margaritaville, Eat, Pray, Queef, Fishsticks, Pinewood Derby, Fat Beard, Dead Celebrities, Butters' Bottom Bitch, W.T.F., Whale Whores, The F Word, Dances With Smurfs & Pee

Doogan's Top Five

Margaritaville - Winner of the 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for Programming Less Than One Hour, Margaritaville jumps right into America's recent economic hardship. Stan's Dad (Randy) is going to teach Stan a life lesson about the importance of saving for the future and has him deposit a $100 check he received as a present into the bank. It is deposited into a money market mutual fund where the earnings will be reinvested into foreign currency accounts with compounding interest "aaaand it's gone" within seconds. We find that the recession has hit South Park pretty hard and in an attempt to appease the god Economy (who has become vengeful due to people's frivolous spending), Randy becomes a street preacher (literally), appealing to the community to reduce their spending to only the bare essentials (water, bread and margaritas for sustenance, sheets for clothes, llamas instead of cars and squirrels for kids toys) and thus bring Economy back to their side. The ever logical Kyle, of course, disagrees and tries to convince the town that if they want the economy to be strong, all they need to do is have faith in it and spend. If you're starting to see a biblical analogy going here, you're getting the joke. Meanwhile, through all of this, Stan attempts to return an expensive drink mixer his dad bought; learning all about subprime mortgage bail-outs, finance companies, Wall Street and the overall incompetence of the federal government. One word for this episode: brilliant.

Fishsticks - South Park's very own stand-up comedian Jimmy is trying to create some new routines for his act and Cartman offers to help. Jimmy writes 'em and Cartman swats them down as he snacks. When Cartman wants something to eat that's a little more substantial than the fruit Jimmy's mom is offering, an offer of fishsticks ends up leading Jimmy to a joke (Ask someone: "Do you like fishsticks?" Wait for the answer "yes" and ask, "What are you, a gay fish?") that becomes a huge sensation when every late night comedian tells it on their show. America loves the joke; everyone thinks it's funny. That is everyone except for voice of his generation and self-proclaimed genius Kanye West who is out to prove he is neither gay nor a fish. This all leads to Cartman incorrectly remembering in a myriad of different ways that he was solely responsible for the joke and a lesson from Kyle that a person's ego can be so big that they can subconsciously remember things incorrectly in order to feel more self-important. In the end, Kanye still can't get the joke, but realizes that he needs to trust what people tell him about himself and he jumps into the ocean to embrace his true self and live as a gay fish.

Dead Celebrities - Ike is being visited by the ghosts of the slew of 2009's deceased celebrities and it's understandably freaking him out. The gang does their best to solve the problem (even going as far as bringing in Roto-Rooters turned paranormal investigators and stars of the "gayest show in the fucking world" the Ghost Hunters). Nothing works and Ike spirals into a coma. At the hospital the boys meet a doctor of "spooky stuff" with a remarkable likeness to Poltergeist star Zelda Rubinstein (who died earlier this year). She explains that the dead celebrities are trapped in purgatory and purgatory is represented by a plane that is stuck on the tarmac due to an unforeseen problem (another fun 2009 news reference). Upon further investigation, they learn that it's Michael Jackson who is mucking things up because he won't admit he's passed on. Jackson's spirit then takes over Ike's body and insists he is alive so the boys have no choice but to entertain Jackson's fantasies and help him achieve what he wanted most in his living life: become a little white girl so they enter him into the Tiny Miss Pageant beauty contest. Because of Cartman and the judge's shared love for Chipotle, Jackson wins the pageant and Jackson leaves Ike, who is now freed of the ghosts who move on... the hell.

The F Word - "What are you guys talking about? Harley's are neat-o. I always thought someday when I grow up, I'm gonna get a Harley - then people would have to notice me and they'll have to deal with my shit for once. The open road. The wind on my face. I'll go from city to city - rrroooew, rroooew, rrrrrooooooooew! Everyone looking at me: "who's that guy?" "He must be tough." Rrooew, rrooew, rrooew, rrrrroooooooew! I'll have my girl on the back seat holding on to my fat belly. Sure, she's missing a few teeth, but she thinks I'm cool. That's why, when I grow up, I'm gonna be a Harley rider." - Butters on his future.

This one is truly hilarious. A group of bikers have entered South Park and because of their loud and obnoxious Harleys, the boys can't enjoy the peace of their quiet mountain town. Cartman eventually confronts them and lets them in on the fact that the entire town thinks that they are a bunch of "fags". Confused by this, the bikers simply get louder, so the boys send a message to the bikers by shitting on their bike seats and tagging a Harley billboard and a city block with "Fags Get Out" (seemed reasonable at the time). Suffice to say, when Big Gay Al and Mister Slave see the signs, they get offended and take it to the town council. When confronted, the boys logically state that "fag" is no longer a derogatory slang for homosexual, but instead means that someone is an inconsiderate douche bag. The bikers too learn that the term "fag" has had many meanings since it was first coined in the late 16th Century. The town soon adapts to this new use, but the country still has fault with it, so the boys make it their mission to change the official definition inviting Emmanuel Lewis as head editor of the English Dictionary Officiate to South Park to try and change the meaning officially.

Dances With Smurfs - Due to a horrifying case of mistaken identity, third grader Gordon Stoltski, the regular morning announcer, is murdered by a jealous husband and Cartman is now on the job. Of course, Cartman being Cartman, he uses the job to level critical statements about the school and class president Wendy. This gets him into a bit of trouble with the school, though he pulls the ACLU card and gets his way, eventually turning the standard PA announcement into a closed-circuit TV show styled after Fox News' Glenn Beck. In his first broadcast, Cartman accuses Wendy of wanting to Kill Smurfs (thanks to an anagram on a blackboard) which sends the story through an entertaining spiral involving Cartman publishing a book entitled "What Happened To My School" that is full of "questions" about Wendy (more like disgusting accusations with a question like "or is she?" at the end) and eventually makes a film that is remarkably similar to Dances With Wolves about Cartman's time among the Smurfs before Wendy came along and destroyed their utopia for the rare and valuable Smurfberry. In the end, Wendy meets him head on and turns the story against Cartman, eventually writing her own book and selling it to James Cameron, who then turns it into the film Avatar. So many sociopolitical and pop cultural commentary zings packed into one show, and yet all hit their target.

Doogan's Fave

Butters' Bottom Bitch - "Kyle, every boy pays for kisses; do you know what I am saying? If you got a girl and she kisses you, sooner or later you are paying for it. You got to take her out to lunch; take her to a movie and then spend time listening to her stupid problems. Look at Stan right there. He's got to sit there and listen to her stupid motherf**kin' problems because she kisses him. You ask me, that's a lot more than the $5 my company charges." - Butters rationalizing his kissing company

Butters get his first kiss with a girl - a kiss he pays $5 for BTW - and the experience inspires him to gather up willing girls and start a "kissing company" complete with business objectives and goals. Butters' new services goes gangbusters, with Butters never knowing that he's become a full-on pimp. Once Kyle accuses Butters of being a pimp, Butters embraces it, does some research and even attends a Players Ball seeking counsel about "the game." When word on the street grows that there's a pimp in Park County that respects his bitches, Butters' kissing company grows to include actual whores. This leads Butters to ACORN where he seeks advice on how to offer housing and medical benefits for his bitches. Meanwhile in the B-story, Police Sergeant Yates has gone undercover as a female prostitute to capture Johns in the act but finds himself going a little bit too deep in the role. Butters' Bottom Bitch has it all and ends up being the funniest episode from the last few seasons.

Disc Review

Though Season 13 is the second Blu-ray release, it was actually the first time South Park aired in true HD. As such, this release is given to us in full 1080p hi-def. Season 12 was released in 1080i and you can actually tell a difference between S12 and S13, with the latter showing a much cleaner image and bolder, more vibrant colors. Audio is presented in English 5.1 TrueHD Audio as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 and is uncensored (except for Ike's swears, go figure). Both tracks are very good and well balanced, though the dialogue is stronger in the 2.0 track.

The extras feature, on the audio-side, mini-commentaries with Trey and Matt for each episode providing their regular amusing anecdotes and offering a few insider nuggets here and there. I still wish they would do full-length commentaries because those original ones that were exclusive to the Comedy Central online store were awesome. Video extras include an Inside Xbox tour that was previously available via Xbox Live that's rather goofy and not all that insightful. Better than that are some amusing deleted scenes including fun stuff from Dead Celebrities and Fishsticks. Certainly not epic, but if you're a fan of the show, it's a set definitely worth having in your library.

Todd Doogan
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