|Running time||22 min|
Isaac Hayes (1997-2006)
Mary Kay Bergman (1997-1999)
Eliza Schneider (2000-2003)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original network/channel||Comedy Central|
|Origional run||1992 (Jesus vs. Frosty)|
1995 (Jesus vs. Santa)
August 13, 1997-Today
|No. of episodes||160|
South Park is an award-winning American animated television comedy series about four third/fourth-grade school boys who live in the small, backward mountain town of South Park, Colorado. The series was created and is written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and has been distributed and aired by Comedy Central since 1997. It is well-known for its handling of current events and its pop-culture parody.
One more season is planned, with an option for renewal at the end of Season 12. In recent years, each season has been aired in two halves, in spring and in autumn. The eleventh season began airing on March 7, 2007. The first half of the eleventh season ended on April 18, 2007. It is scheduled to begin again on Wednesday, October 3, 2007
South Park began in 1992 when Trey Parker and Matt Stone, at the time students at the University of Colorado, met in a film class and created an animated short called Jesus vs. Frosty. The crudely made film featured prototypes of the main characters of South Park, including a character resembling Cartman, but named "Kenny", an unnamed character resembling Kenny, and two near-identical unnamed characters who resembled Stan and Kyle. These four bring a murderous snowman to life with a magic hat.
In 1995, FOX executive Brian Graden saw the film, and commissioned Parker and Stone to create a second short film that he could send to his friends as a video Christmas card. Titled Jesus vs. Santa, it resembled the style of the later series more closely, and featured a martial arts duel and subsequent truce between Jesus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas. This video was later featured in the episode "A Very Crappy Christmas" in which Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Mr. Hankey "save" Christmas for the town. The video was popular and was widely shared, both by duplication and over the Internet. This led to talks to create a series, first with FOX, then with Comedy Central, where the series debuted on August 13, 1997. During the first four seasons of South Park, clips of the shorts can be seen in the opening sequence within an old television and a billboard.
South Park's early episodes tended to be shock value-oriented and featured more Pythonesque humor than later episodes. Although satire had been used on the show occasionally in its early and middle years, it became more evident around the eighth season. Episodes have parodied Michael Jackson (in "The Jeffersons"), Paris Hilton ("Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset"), The Passion of the Christ (in "The Passion of the Jew"), and American immigration policy ("Goobacks").
The pilot episode ("Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") required three months to produce using construction paper and traditional cut-out animation techniques. However the version that aired was different from the original version. Current episodes duplicate the original, amateurish look using modern computer animation tools — first PowerAnimator and then Maya, which Parker and Stone described as "building a sandcastle with a bulldozer". This allows for a shorter production schedule, enabling the creators to respond quickly to current events. The December 17, 2003 episode "It's Christmas in Canada" depicted the capture of Saddam Hussein a mere three days after the actual event, even referring to the "spider hole" in which he was found. In this instance -- as with the Elián González episode ("Quintuplets 2000") -- the creators changed the production of an episode at the last minute to focus on the new world event.
In 2002, the episode "Free Hat" aired. In this episode -- inspired by Kyle's comment on Ted Koppel's Nightline that changing E.T. would be like changing Raiders of the Lost Ark -- George Lucas and Steven Spielberg decide to alter the first Indiana Jones film. Soon after the episode aired, Lucas and Spielberg announced that contrary to rumors they would not be altering Raiders of the Lost Ark for DVD release. Parker and Stone jokingly suggested that the episode prevented any alterations from happening. On September 10, 2005, Comedy Central committed to three more seasons of South Park, so the show will run until at least 2008. Parker and Stone will continue to write, direct, and edit every episode of the show, bringing the series total to 181 episodes by the end of its twelfth season. Edited versions of South Park episodes, with the TV-14 rating, began broadcasting in syndication on September 19, 2005 on various local channels around the U.S.
Main article: South Park Characters
Prior to season four, the main characters of the show were four third grade students (often called "the boys" when as a group for easier reference): Stanley "Stan" Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Theodore Cartman and Kenneth "Kenny" McCormick. There are many recurring characters on the show, including the boys' families, school staff and other students. These include Leopold "Butters" Stotch, Chef, Mr. Hankey, Towelie, Jesus, and Satan. There are also many other minor characters and one-off characters.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker voice most of the male South Park characters, while April Stewart and Mona Marshall (formerly Mary Kay Bergman and Eliza Schneider) voice most of the female characters such as Wendy and Sheila Broflovski. Other voices are currently provided by Adrien Beard (Token Black), Vernon Chatman (Towelie), Jennifer Howell (Bebe Stevens), and John Hansen (Mr. Slave).
One of the most notable features of the South Park animation style is that the characters tend to move their limbs as little as possible, except when they need to do actions other than walking. Construction paper cut-outs were used in the original pilot animation and in the first episode made for Comedy Central. Subsequent episodes have been produced by computer animation that provides the same look, although the appearance of the characters and scenes has become less crude over time largely in order to enhance the comedic effect. Special effects such as prepackaged explosions have replaced cardboard-style fires, and light shading has been used to highlight "sappy" or movie-like moments and Eric Cartman's propensity for striking dramatic poses. Some episodes also contain sections of live action as well, such as Tweek vs. Craig, Cat Orgy and Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina
CorelDRAW is used to create the characters, which are animated using Maya, or in early episodes, PowerAnimator. The style of animation used for South Park was inspired by the paper cut-out cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been lifelong fans. For perspective, the average episode of The Simpsons takes six to eight months to create, while episodes of South Park are usually completed in six days (although some, such as AWESOM-O or Woodland Critter Christmas have taken only three or four). This enables the show to keep up with current events quite well.
The show has faced numerous controversies. The show depicts what many people find to be taboo subject matter, from its use of vulgarity ("It Hits The Fan") to its satire of subjects such as religion and cults (such as "Trapped in the Closet"), sexuality ("The Death Camp of Tolerance"), and global warming ("Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow"). Stone and Parker are self-described "equal opportunity offenders" and episodes often lampoon all sides of a contentious issue, rather than taking a concrete position.
The show's provocative material quickly drew protest from various spokesmen, who deemed the program offensive. American conservative media watchdog group Parents Television Council has frequently criticized South Park for their over-the-top vulgar content and alleged tastelessness.
The show also frequently uses vulgarities. For example, in the episode "It Hits the Fan", the word shit was said a total of 162 times uncensored. Also, in the episode entitled "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson", the word nigger was used throughout the entire episode for a total of 42 times.
In 2005, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights protested the season finale episode, "Bloody Mary", for its depiction of a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding from her rectum. The group claimed a victory when Comedy Central voluntarily canceled a scheduled airing of the episode which coincided with the Christian holiday season. In early 2006, Comedy Central denied that they were honoring the group's request to pull the episode from future repeats and DVD releases. Comedy Central has since run the episode more than once.
South Park has parodied Scientology in a couple of episodes. Most of which, however, never mention Scientology by name, but they are obviously meant to poke fun at it. The episode that caused the most controversy was "Trapped in the Closet", which caused what the media dubbed 'Closetgate'. The episode poked fun at the cult and its celebrity followers, including Tom Cruise. After Comedy Central pulled the episode from a scheduled repeat at the last minute, it was alleged that Cruise threatened Paramount with withdrawal from promotion of his latest film if the episode was re-broadcast (both Paramount and Comedy Central are owned by Viacom). This situation led to Isaac Hayes, who played Chef, to quit unexpectedly days before the spoof on Scientology was to re-air.
South Park has indirectly attacked the rising censorship in its 2006 two-part episode, "Cartoon Wars Part I" and "Cartoon Wars Part II", in which the the animated sitcom Family Guy attempts to air an episode depicting Muhammad (Cartoon Wars is a comical parody of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy). The creators challenged Comedy Central by ending Part I with the disclaimer that the second part of the two-parter episode, will only be shown if Comedy Central does not "puss out". When Part II aired, it replaced the scene of Muhammad on Family Guy with a title card stating that Comedy Central had refused to show a depiction of Muhammad on their network. Comedy Central did, in fact, citing safety concerns, opt to censor the image of Muhammad. Furthermore, while the channel refused to broadcast an image of Muhammad, Comedy Central opted not to censor images of Christ, the president, and the American flag being defecated upon. Stone and Parker's choice has drawn fire from the anti-defamation group Catholic League.
In addition, South Park has repeatedly featured both Judaism and Mormonism. However, neither community has had representatives publicly speak out about the satire in any large public forum
Main article: List of Episodes from South Park
South Park has had 160 episodes over 10 and a half seasons. 21 more episodes are currently planned.
References in Other Media
Throughout the Running of South Park there have been many references to the Series in other Series.
Here is a List.
- Arthur - Despite being a Kids show Arthur makes a Reference to South Park (Along with other shows such a Beavis and Butthead and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. During Buster's Story he comes up with a Story about Them (In a Poor Cutout fashion simillar to South Park) having an Alien encounter spoofing off of Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. The Aliens abduct Arthur doing Several Experiments on him before dropping him down.
- Boy Meets World - On the episode "And Then There Was Shawn", which is a parody of Scream, Kenny is the first person to die by having a pencil stabbed in his head. Eric responds by shouting "Oh my god! They killed Kenny!" Someone then replies with "You Ba..." which is cut off when the killer appears as they run out of the room screaming.
- Grizdar - Some References are made to South Park in this fanfiction adaption of Invader ZIM. The First reference was in Meet the Zeeltors when Lord Garvons Robot cyborg turkey monster named Gobbletron Attacks and Kidnaps Stan, Dr. Zeeltor and Zanna. After this Dr. Zeeltors Children Craig and Zak. The notice Irken Invader Ian who was on Earth sent by the Tallests to destroy Zim's Mission. Zak and Craig try warning Ian however he is trampled on by Gobbletron and Ultimatley Killed (Ian is seen in another episode named Ian after that though). Zak proclaims "Oh My God Gobbletron Killed Ian" to which Craig yells "You Bastard". A Parody on Stan and Kyle's Usual proclaiment after Kenny is Killed. Oddly Enough Craigs name is likely Homage to Character Craig. If the Series is adapted to a Computer Viewable Series they may have Matt Stone do Craigs Voice. Another one is that the next episode the Character Xenu is seen (from Trapped in the Closet) but reveals a Voice (Would be Provided by Maurice LaMarche) and reveals a General named Tom Cruise.
- The Simpsons - An episode shows Bart and Milhouse watching South Park. The Children complain about them going to a Show with Farty the Crippled Robot. The Robot Farts saying that there is OJ in his Fart. Meaning apparently OJ Simpson was in his Fart. OJ Simpson starts killing the band and Everyone. Bart and Milhouse cheer about "Cartoon Violence".
- Family Guy - The episode I Take Thee Quagmire makes a Reference to South Park about how when People Die they Void their Bowels which is a Reference to several episodes of South Park.
Apart from the continuously vulgar presentation of issues, South Park implements several recurring themes that it frequently uses, including political issues, racism, gay rights, environment, censorship, political correctness, sex and religion, all of which are widely viewed as controversial.
- South Park/Thomas
- South Park/TUGS
- South Park/Theodore Tugboat
- South Park/The Simpsons
- South Park/Garfield
- South Park/Mario
- South Park/Diesel of Sodor
- South Park/Road Vehicles
- South Park/Humans of Sodor
- South Park/The Little Engine That Could
- South Park/Budgie the Little Helicopter
- South Park/Sonic
- South Park/Mountain Engines
- South Park/Arlesdale Railway
- South Park/Thomas Villians
- South Park/Day of the Diesels
- South Park/Star fox