The fourteenth season of South Park continues a streak of brilliant writing and production by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, including an Emmy nomination for their two-part celebration of reaching 200 episodes. "200" and "201" feature virtually every celebrity the pair has ever skewered in the past, and became the subject of a great deal of controversy when Comedy Central heavily censored the second part in response to threats from a radical Muslim organization.
The network beeped any mention of the name Muhammad, placed a large "CENSORED" black box over depictions of him in the episode, and bleeped the entirety of Kyle's speech detailing the "I've learned something" of the episode. Fans were outraged, and if they were hoping to finally lift the veil of censorship with the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the season, they're going to be stunned and disappointed.
Parker and Stone have always offered the uncensored cuts of their episodes on the home versions, but apparently the long reach, and fear, of Comedy Central drew the line at "201." In fact, we don't even get the censored cut Stone and Park submitted to the network, but rather the version that aired on television.
Now, one could argue that since Comedy Central has never re-aired the episode, and won't even allow it to be made available for online streaming at the show's website, we should be grateful we're even allowed a second chance to see it. But it is a cartoon, so we still can't read Kyle's lips to understand what he was trying to say.
Parker and Stone offer mini-commentaries on each episode, as in past seasons, but on "201" the commentary is about as unrevealing as the censored episode, because it seems Comedy Central told them not to talk about it. So they even got their commentary censored? Classy move, Comedy Central. It's one thing to say you get to choose what you are on your network, but to control what people buy for home viewing is insane. Have you seen some of the stuff we can buy and own? It kind of goes along with that freedom thing we talk about a lot in this country. I guess that's the power of ownership, though.
There were other episodes this season as well (I promise), including "Medicinal Fried Chicken," which was the show's take on medicinal marijuana but will forever be known as the episode with the guys bouncing around on their giant testicles. Stan Marsh has quickly risen to be among the best characters on this show, and this episode is a perfect showcase for why South Park needs his special brand of stupidity. The adults are always the stupidest characters, and their sheep-like follower mentality speaks so much to how many of us are in life. It makes perfect sense that they would all want to get testicular cancer so they could score some medicinal marijuana. After all, the adults are kids on this show, and they never think things all the way through.
We also get to see a Shake Weight squirt white stuff into women's faces, and South Park comes under attack by New Jersey, including the introduction of the creature "Snooki." I loved their take on the Tiger Woods scandal, by having the boys pick up the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour game, only to find out that it's now a fighting game between Tiger and his wife.
The Coon returns in a three-parter which feels like it was one too many at times. While it isn't as broad in humor as some other episodes, it makes up for this by actually being an engaging and interesting superhero caper. The saga also takes shots at the BP oil spill, with a hilarious marketing campaign featuring the CEO of BP apologizing to the public, and their accidental release of Cthulhu into the world. Captain Hindsight may also be my favorite new character: a superhero who shows up after things go wrong and tells you what you should have done differently to avoid the mess you're in now. Brilliant!
The set is very light on extras, but one of them is the Season 13 episode "The Coon," which originally introduced us to Eric Cartman's alter ego. Other than that, we get some deleted scenes, several of them still in the early stages of development, and those mini-commentaries by the creators on each episode. These are nice and all, but it seems we could have been treated to more. That, and it would have been nice to at least have the option to see the uncensored "201." The big question looming over the show now, though, is how upset Parker and Stone are over this whole "201" censorship thing. Season 15 is the end of their current contract, and with The Book of Mormon doing great on Broadway, will they want to continue on with South Park if they're concerned their creative vision could be stifled to this degree again?
Length: 308 min.
Rated: Not rated
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: 4/26/11
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mona Marshall, April Stewart
Directed by: Trey Parker
Produced by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Anne Garefino
Written by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Visit the South Park Official Website
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