After the pandemic, life has returned to pretty much normal for Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman… but then nothing is ever normal in South Park: The Complete 25th Season. Back to an episodic schedule, this six-episode season may be short but it’s the funniest the show has been in years return to the goofy topical humor. With a solid A/V presentation and no bonus features, if you’ve collected this many seasons you may as well keep going. Recommended
The cute quaint mountain town of South Park, Colorado has seen its share of death, destruction, mayhem, and madness - but lovable scamps Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny have weathered it all. Now the foul-mouthed foursome will have to endure the ravings of Randy’s Tegridey weed, an imminent Russian invasion, an influx of city folk, culture appropriation, and airsoft.
In addition to the Pandemic screwing up movie theaters, bars, and film production for the better part of two years, it also messed with South Park and Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s flow for episodic humor. We got the various Pandemic Specials and the Post Covid and The Return of Covid specials, but they weren’t traditional episodes. Funny yes, but the longer format never quite came to life the same way a traditional episode might. That’s where The Complete 25th Season is a genuine welcome return to form… albeit a short one.
This season, for me, has been one of the funniest seasons of South Park in a number of years. Sure, past seasons were still funny with plenty of gags and shock humor, but this season felt fresh. Pajama Day managed to skewer both the mask mandates and Matt Damen’s crypto ad - which is even funnier now in the wake of FTX’s collapse and Sam Bankman-Fried’s ongoing legal troubles. Back to the Cold War saw Mr. Mackey nostalgically over-preparing for ‘80s-era nuclear war and loving it while Help! My Teenager Hates Me saw the boys effectively become parents to a bunch of moody hormonal teenagers just so they can play airsoft. It was all hilarious. Sure, there were some jokes that didn’t land, and some episodes like the Credigree Weed St. Patrick’s Day Special just didn’t know when or how to end, but overall it was a nice return to form.
But again, it was a short one. I don’t entirely understand why season episode counts have dwindled down to a meager six (barely 134 minutes total runtime). Apparently, HBO Max didn’t understand it either when they filed their lawsuit against South Park Studios and Paramount earlier this year. I will say at this juncture I would take six solid episodes of South Park than ten mediocre ones or another “special” episode. I enjoyed the specials for what they were when they were made, but I’m happier seeing the standard episodes again. And with what I’ve seen so far of Season 26, South Park genuinely feels like it's back on its feet.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
South Park: The Complete 25th Season arrives on Blu-ray in a single-disc release from Paramount. Pressed on a Region Free BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu allowing you to choose a specific episode or simply hit “play all” and let the show roll for two-plus hours.
In keeping with past seasons and special sets, this season of South Park comes with a solid 1080p transfer. It’s still the same crisp clean 2-D animation style we’ve been enjoying for a quarter century now. Details, such as they are, are well-defined, and even with the purposefully limited animation style there’s still a welcome sense of depth to the image. Colors are bright and bold with lovely primaries. Free of any compression issues, it’s another solid season transfer for this show on Blu-ray.
Once again each episode of South Park enjoys a robust Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. While much of the sound design keeps the action front/center, there are some great moments for surround activity to kick in. Stan addressing the school about “Tolkien” felt nice and open. Music cues hit nicely - the bass response for the opening theme song is always solid. Dialog is clean and clear throughout without any issues. It’s a fairly basic mix, but when necessary they do find ways to make the soundscape feel open and active.
Whenever any show gets too long in the tooth you have to wonder why it keeps going. I’m genuinely surprised The Simpsons is still on the air after all these years, but people must keep tuning in. But now that South Park has hit its milestone 25th Season, I’m damn happy to see that it’s still funny. A pandemic and shorter episode slates seem to have been good for Matt and Trey as they give Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and even the lovable Butters some great hilarious material to work with. Now on Blu-ray, Paramount holds true to the series’ past disc releases with solid A/V for each episode. The lack of bonus features is a bummer but that’s been the case for a while now. I got the laughs I needed when I needed them most. Recommended