DirectorTrey Parker, Matt Stone
Release Date(s)1998-1999 (December 5, 2017)
Studio(s)Comedy Central/South Park Studios (Paramount)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: D
After leaving fans in suspense with the cliffhanger ending of The Complete First Season (see our Blu-ray review here), series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone kicked off the show’s sophomore year with an April Fools episode featuring Terrance and Phillip, after which Cartman’s father was finally revealed in Cartman’s Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut. Other highlights of the season include the return of Mr. Hanky in Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls, a spoof of a classic Star Trek episode in the form of Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods, and the first appearance of the infamous Underpants Gnomes in… well, Gnomes.
When these second season episodes were originally produced, they were animated by computer but rendered and finished in SD and 1.33:1. That’s how they were first seen on Comedy Central and how they appeared on DVD as well. So over the past several years, the production team at South Park Studios has gone back and re-animated them in full HD. New details have been added here and there, and minor errors in the original animation have been corrected as well. The result is finally being released on Blu-ray thanks to Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Complete Second Season includes all 18 episodes on 2 Blu-rays. Each episode is presented here in 1080p at the new 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. As such, the video quality is outstanding, with nice detail, bold coloring, and dark blacks. The simulated construction paper texturing has even been carefully preserved. Obviously, the very nature of the way South Park is animated means that this isn’t exactly HD eye candy. But these episodes have never looked better, so the video grade reflects that.
From an audio standpoint, all of these episodes include the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mixes from the 2003 DVD release, as well as new 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mixes. The surround staging is subtle, more atmospheric than anything else, but it’s lossless audio so who could ask for more? One audio point of note: The split audio tracks for part of Season Two weren’t archived in uncensored form, so only the censored masters now exist for those episodes and that’s what you get here. Note that optional English subtitles are available for those who need them.
As for bonus features, the new Blu-ray release includes only one item in SD: Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls music video (4:05). That’s a little disappointing, because the DVD release also offered the Goin’ Down to South Park documentary (50:33). A guess would be that it’s not here for disc space reasons (each BD disc in this set includes 9 HD episodes). In any case, you’ll obviously have to keep the DVD set to retain it if you wish. There are also no commentaries, but then none have been recorded for these episodes to date, so that’s no surprise. These episodes do at least include the Parker and Stone introductions from DVD (in SD).
It’s great to finally have the chance to buy these early seasons of South Park on Blu-ray Disc. Though they’re probably for diehard fans only, these sets are definitely worth having. They currently sell for about $30 each on Amazon and will likely be discounted further in time. South Park shows no signs of ending anytime soon, though, so if you’re waiting for a Complete Series release, you’ll likely have a very long wait. Our advice is to buy these individual season sets as you’re able to, but look for great sale price.
- Bill Hunt