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TV Review: South Park – The Complete Seventeenth Season

4 min read

Over the last 17 years Comedy Central’s South Park has become a widely watched staple of adult animation. The show has just entered its eighteenth season on air and its seventeenth season has recently been released to home entertainment.

South Park Season 17Even in its seventeenth season the show continues to satisfy its loyal audience and rake in new generations as it does everything in its power to stretch the limits of adult humour to its very fullest extent. The show has never been one with hopes of winning any major accolades for its writing or voice performance and each show is usually put together from concept to completion in the space of a week but that doesn’t take away the fact that South Park has become one of the most popular shows – animated or not – in the last 20 years.

Despite my adoration for South Park as an avid watcher of the show since its 1997 pilot, I have to admit that going into the seventeenth season, it took a little longer than usual for me to warm to the new episodes. The humour seemed a tad stale and I felt that the efforts to come up with fresh material were taking its toll on its creators. Perhaps this is also the reason for the minimal ten episodes in this season as opposed to its usual 14 -18.

The opening episode, Let Go, Let Gov showed promise with Cartman being as annoying as ever to his friends, in particular Kyle; insisting on talking on his iPhone, held away from his ear and on speakerphone. The gag, which eventually honed in on poking fun at the DMV and NSA, was a nice launching point for the new season and threw in a guest appearance by Alec Baldwin who had invented a brand new social media platform to challenge Twitter, but by no less than 10 minutes into the episode the humour seemed to drag its feet a little and continued to do so throughout the following several episodes including the sparsely funny Informative Murder Porn and World War Zimmerman. It wasn’t until episode 4 that things got really fun as the show was handed over to the goth kids in Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers where the local goth foursome fall prey to a mysterious camp called Troubled Acres which, with the help of some ficus plants in vibrating pots, are changed from goth to emo kids. The opening title sequence of the episode is also given a makeover with the goth kids taking centre stage in place of Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny.

The second disc also contained many of the seasons strengths. The centre piece of the season was its trilogy – Black Friday/A Song of Ass and Fire/Titties and Dragons. During the episode which was formed around a Games of Thrones influenced storyline, Catman and co compete to be one of the first people to get their hands on the new X-Box and Playstation consoles during the upcoming Black Friday sales however the seasons shopping fiasco turns into a bloodbath between residents of the South Park community who go on a murderous rampage in order to be one of the first 100 people in the local store to save 96% on items. Within the 3 episodes are hilarious appearances from Bill Gates and Game of Thrones novelist George R. R. Martin and we see Kenny being transformed into a Japanese princess in some impressive anime drawn scenes. While the episodes were some of the shows most watched, its inclusion does make me wonder why they would opt for a trilogy within such a brief season.

The final episode, The Hobbit, also delivers some of the season’s best material as Wendy Testaburger takes on Photoshop as the girls of South Park Elementary become popular after touching up images of themselves to appear more finely tuned and glamourous like Kim Kardashian.

Despite several moments of hilarity and patches of comedy genius, we couldn’t help but feel that the latest season presented itself as a little deflated and overworked. While previous seasons delivered jokes and storylines that felt more cohesive and natural for the writers behind the show, the seventeenth season was both brief and for the most part, quite lacklustre and we can’t help but think that the manatee’s have not been delivering the usual high calibre idea balls to creators Stone and Parker lately.

Overall, the show may not be producing the same memorable episodes than its earlier seasons had but the band behind the show, as well as Saturday Night Live newcomer Bill Hader, are still able to tickle us with the expected and welcomed silliness and shock humor that has pulled laughs from its enormous fanbase since 1997 and over 250 episodes later and now into its 18th season, there is plenty more fuel left in the tank for this show.