exploded on the pop culture landscape like a dirty bomb in 1997, and the 13 episodes that comprise the groundbreaking first season have lost none of their subversive impact. If Seinfeld
was a show about nothing, then South Park
is a show about everything, from important moral lessons in compassion and tolerance to good old-fashioned animated character assassination (Kathie Lee Gifford in "Weight Gain 4000" and Barbra Streisand in "Mecha-Streisand"). Like an After School Special gone quite mad, profanity-spewing third-graders Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and the ill-fated Kenny navigate childhood in their mountain town. Nothing in South Park
is sacred, and each episode has something to offend, from "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" (featuring George Clooney as the voice of Sparky, the homosexual dog), to the Halloween episode "Pink Eye," in which Cartman dresses up as Adolph Hitler. Best not to even get started on Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Pooh, or the season finale cliffhanger, "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut."
Each episode is preceded by a faux introduction by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who proclaim every episode to be their favorite. Their incarnations as Rootin'-Tootin' Trey Parker and Pistol-Slingin' Matt Stone indicate that after South Park runs its course, they'd be great hosts of their own children's show, which--and this cannot be stressed strongly enough--South Park is not. Other extras include the South Park boys' appearance on the CableAce awards and "A South Park Thanksgiving," featuring Jay Leno, which aired exclusively on The Tonight Show. A minor annoyance is the slapdash packaging that mislabels the episodes ("Damien," for example, is on disc 3, not 2 as indicated). --Donald Liebenson
Mr. Hankey! Mecha Streisand! Cartman's Mom! And more. It all started here, in South Park's groundbreaking first season. Still going strong in its sixth season, South Park continues to be Comedy Central's highest rated and most recognized original series ever.