|The third time's the, for want of a better word, charm for South Park on DVD. Instead of mere episode intros as on the first two boxed sets, Trey Parker and Matt Stone finally oblige us with actual episode commentary, or, as they call it, "commentary-mini." On this optional audio track, Trey and Matt goof for about five minutes or so at the top of each episode, certifying some as favorites ("Tweek vs. Craig," "Jewbilee," and "Worldwide Recorder Concert," which is described as "a reverse after-school special from hell"), championing others popularly dismissed by South Park's otherwise loyal fans ("Jakovasaurs," "Sexual Harassment Panda"), and provocatively dismissing all of season 2.
The third season was frantically produced simultaneously with the feature film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. This was the season, Trey proclaims, "where South Park turned the corner... and became good (as far as we were concerned)." Among their most inspired conceits is the so-called "Meteor Shower Party" trilogy, three episodes that unfold over the course of one night, each focusing on a different kid. "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" pays homage to Hanna-Barbera-style animation and Scooby-Doo, recasting Korn as the Mystery Inc gang. "Rainforest Shmainforest," featuring a game Jennifer Aniston, cuts rainforest crusaders down to size. "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics" takes its irreverent cue from the album of the same name, and contains an outrageously obscure reference to the 1978 made-for-TV Star Wars Holiday Special. Throughout the season, South Park is, as usual, a gleeful equal-opportunity offender, but the show's true gonzo spirit is truly illustrated in such surreal touches as the employment of live action in "Tweek vs. Craig," the singing of "The Morning After" backwards to save Chef from the spell of "The Succubus," and the Seinfeld-worthy argument over whether the term should be "pirate ghosts" or "ghost pirates" in "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery." --Donald Liebenson