DirectorTrey Parker, Matt Stone
Release Date(s)1999-2000 (December 5, 2017)
Studio(s)Comedy Central/South Park Studios (Paramount)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B-
South Park finally hit its stride with The Complete Third Season, which features more than a few iconic episodes. Among these are Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery, Chinpokomon, Hooked on Monkey Fonics, Starvin’ Marvin in Space, and Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics. The pop culture references continue with a Jar Jar Binks-like character spoofed in Jakovasarus and the Master Control Program from Tron appearing in Jewbilee. The season also features the first major appearance of the fan-favorite Butters, previously a background character only, in the episode Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub. It’s worth noting that the South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut feature film (reviewed here) was produced simultaneously with this season and debuted in theaters a month into its broadcast run.
When these third 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 Third Season includes all 17 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? Note that the episodes included here also have uncensored audio. Optional English subtitles are also available for those who need them.
As for bonus features, the new Blu-ray release carries over the original Creator Commentaries for each episode, featuring Parker and Stone, that were found on the 2003 DVD release. That’s it, but that’s fine as well because there were no other extras created for this season on disc.
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