Since I've been informed that I'm taking care of the future South Park reviews for TV Squad, I thought I'd jump the gun and review the last season (the second half of Season 11 begins on Wednesday October 3rd). I'm a long-time fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's work and, with one exception, I felt every episode of this season was a home run.
It amazes me how quickly the production team of the show can turn around an episode. I feel it is under these rushed circumstances that Matt and Trey produce their best work. The best example of this is the first episode of the season, "The Return of Chef", which was a direct result of the controversial departure of Isaac Hayes from the show resulting from his association with Scientology.
They really should release this show on DVD. As Adam noted before, it really is quite amazing how clever and ahead of its time it was, and equally amazing the caliber of talent that worked on the show in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
After the jump are several videos of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert on The Dana Carvey Show. They've gone their separate ways, but if you include their work here and on The Daily Show and as Ace and Gary on Saturday Night Live, they could have been the next great comedy team. And then they would have gotten sick of each other and broken up and not spoken for 20 years and then reunited by Jon Stewart on a telethon.
Given this series of cartoon events, why the New York Post would bother to ask Hayes whether or not he planned on returning to the show is beyond me, but Hayes' answer was clear.
IGN has a lengthy two-part interview with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose show has been on for ten years but has probably received more press in just the last year due to controversial episodes that ruffled the feathers of more than a few, including Isaac Hayes, Catholics, and their own bosses at Comedy Central. The best parts are included in the second part of the interview, when Comedy Central president Doug Herzog actually chimes in to give the network's side of the story as to why they chose not to show an image of Mohammad during the second "Cartoon Wars" episode, despite the religious icon being shown, without incident, three or four years previously. In fact, Parker mentions that when the Danish cartoon controversy ignited he thought it was because they had finally seen that particular episode.
What they also point out, and what I found especially interesting, is that South Park, in many ways, got its start online when people began downloading precursors such as "The Spirit of Christmas" and "Jesus vs. Frosty." These days, it's also one of the top downloads on iTunes. As Parker points out, "It doesn't lose anything. It's not like you're waiting for the kick-ass visuals and the surround sound or anything. So on an iPod -- it's a perfect iPod thing. So I think it's great." The series has gone through a lot of changes, both visually and even politically, but it still maintains the same kind of minimalist charm.
Speaking of Chef and Scientology and all things wacky... South Park fans have launched a campaign to boycott this summer's release of Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise.
[Via Pop Candy]
[This episode review contains spoilers]
Isaac Hayes' time spent on South Park was no accident. He was the always the first and only choice to play Chef, and creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked hard to convince him their silly little cartoon would be worth doing. Over the better part of a decade, Hayes seemed to really embrace both the character and the show's brutal satire.
And until a few days ago, everything remained seemingly copacetic. Suddenly, however, Hayes left the show over its jabs at religion, leading many, including the show's creators, to believe he had actually left the show over the "Trapped in the Closet" episode which made fun of Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes is also a member.
They also have clips from a hilarious bit on Jimmy Kimmel where Isaac Hayes' new job is to do all the voiceover for Tom Cruise.
[Via The Superficial]
The new season of South Park kicks off tomorrow evening, and if you've been watching the promos, you might have noticed the newest episode will supposedly focus on Chef's return to South Park.
But wait, didn't Isaac Hayes, the man who plays Chef, leave the show over its satirical jabs at religion (*cough* Scientology *cough*)? Yes, in fact, he did, which is leading to some speculation as to exactly how his character will be used and whether Parker and Stone plan to use the episode to make fun of Hayes and the whole Scientology debacle. Of course, some are speculating there's more to Hayes' departure than we realize. Remember that since South Park is created on computers it's easy to throw together an episode at the last minute, and possibly that's what happened here. According to a network synopsis of the episode, Chef returns to South Park, but with noticeable changes in his personality, and the boys try to help him get back to normal. Seems like even if the show turns out not to be about the recent rhubarb, its creators are using it to get people intrigued about the new episode.
Then he drops a mini-bombshell: Hayes was not in the hospital for exhaustion in January; in fact, he suffered a mild stroke from which he is still recovering. Friedman speculates that Hayes is too busy recovering to worry about South Park right now, and that the press release stating he was quitting was done without his permission. Maybe a missive from Scientology Central? I'm pretty sure we'll find out soon enough.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone released this hilarious and potentially inflammatory statement through their lawyer today:
Chef has always been one of my favorite characters... I'm too distraught to even make a chocolate salty balls joke.
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