The lives of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are forever changed in South Park: The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season. It’s not really a full season so much as collecting the two extended specials: The Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special. While made under the strain of COVID restrictions and raging political upheaval, Matt Stone and Trey Parker never lose a step offering hilarious yet sobering satire of the craziest couple years in modern history. A/V is on par with past Blu-ray outings for the series but the complete lack of bonus features is a loss as A Stone/Parker commentary would have been great. Recommended.
The Pandemic Special
A virus has marched over the globe completely overturning the day-to-day lives of the Average American town of South Park. With adults struggling to effectively manage their chin diapers, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny are eager to get back to in-person school while Cartman thrives with online learning and maintaining perfect six-foot distance from every living human. But when in-person learning returns, a new COVID exposure forces the kids to quarantine. As poor Butters starts to crack under the pressure, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny concoct a plan to escape from school and get Butters to Build-A-Bear. Meanwhile, Randy must come to terms that his special relationship with Mickey Mouse may have been the cause of COVID and a special ingredient in Tegridy Weed’s new Pandemic Special could be the cure everyone is hoping for! 4/5
South ParQ Vaccination Special
The election is over and former president Mr. Garrison is coming home to South Park. There is a vaccine available but only to the specially privileged with exclusive access to Walgreens - the elderly. With schools in disarray as teachers demand to get their shots, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny concoct a plan to steal the vaccines! But when the QAnon-following extremist White family stumbles onto the “truth,” they set out to recruit former president Garrison and other local kids to prevent the distribution of the vaccine. 4.5/5
I’m not sure if you knew this, but the last couple of years have been kind of crazy. Winter 2020 kickstarted one of the wildest, most stressful, and radical social shifts in the modern era. From a global pandemic to a polarizing election cycle to an insurrection to the hope of “normalcy” of a vaccine - there was a lot to deal with. For my part in this sordid little story, I became a first-time father barely three weeks before COVID lockdowns and restrictions went into effect. It was (and in many ways still is) exhausting, stressful, and more than a little irritating.
Through the job changes, the lack of personal interaction, and the national toilet paper shortage, there was South Park. Through COVID operating restrictions, series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker managed to craft two special extended episodes to help us cope with the insanity and make us laugh at the absurdity of it all. On the scale of two decades of episodes, these two specials constituting the Twenty-Fourth Season probably aren’t the greatest, but they’re damn funny and came when we needed them most. These two extended episodes picked apart the craziest pieces of the last couple of years and gave them the perfect slap in the face. From Randy’s potential cure for COVID to the Lil’ Qties, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and their team of writers and animators had a lot to work with. Season 25 and the recent Streaming Wars specials currently running on Paramount+ have shown that so long as the world stays a little crazy, South Park will have plenty of material to make us laugh.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
South Park returns to Blu-ray for the Complete Twenty Fourth Season from Paramount in a single disc edition. Pressed on a BD-25 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case. The disc loads to an animated main menu with basic menu options. You can chose to play both episodes or select a specific episode.
For this shortened twenty-fourth season, South Park still looks about the same as usual on Blu-ray. This 1080p transfer is impressive in its own rights given the show’s distinctive few-frills animation styling. They didn’t reinvent the wheel for these extended special episodes so if you’ve been picking up the series there aren’t any surprises in clarity or textures of the characters. Lines are crisp and clean. The colors are bold with excellent primary saturation. Some of the film’s sight gags and a fourth-wall-breaking joke from the Vaccination Special give the image some extra depth but quickly return to its imitation cardboard 2-D roots.
Each extended episode of this disc comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix. While most of the show’s soundscape is fairly front/center focused, there are plenty of great surround effects to keep the mix active and engaging. Pretty much any time the whole town of South Park goes to hell there’s some great surround activity. A flamethrower is well used at the end of the first special. Throughout, the dialog is clean and clear and never any trouble catching a joke. The show has never been very flashy with its sound design but when needed the soundscape can really open up nicely.
Compared to other seasons of South Park, Season Twenty-Four is the shortest and may not quite be the funniest - but it was the most needed in the moment. Manure got kinda crazy there - and is still a little nuts for some folks. When things looked their darkest, The Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special gave us all a good reason to stop and laugh at the absurdity.
Paramount delivers South Park: The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season to Blu-ray with fine results. The A/V package is on par with previous Blu-ray releases but the complete lack of bonus features for these special episodes is a missed opportunity. For long-standing fans or folks that just need an easy laugh - Recommended