- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Highlighting the best interactive features from the high definition format.

In defense of ‘South Park’

Those four foul-mouthed youngsters who turned the weekly animated cartoon into a mature-rated, politically incorrect minefield for Comedy Central have returned for another season. Last year’s exploits are highlighted in the two-disc Blu-ray set South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Paramount Home Entertainment, Not Rated, $57.99), giving fans a chance to relive 14 unrated episodes of taboo-busting television in high definition.

I have not been a consistent viewer of the gang, featuring rotund Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski and the always-near-death Kenny McCormick, in quite a while. However, it took little time to renew my appreciation for the stream of gut-busting depravity unleashed by creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Favorites include the fantastic attack on our economic woes (“Margaritaville”), a blistering ode to the all-too-serious superhero (“The Coon”), payback for the attention-starved Harley biker gang (“The F Word”) and the gassy exploits of Terrance and Philip’s new female rivals. (My editors can’t allow me to give the name of the episode.)

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray set won’t win any awards for propelling the interactive evolution of the medium. A short commentary from Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone for each episode and some outrageous deleted scenes are the only items worth mentioning.

In fact, ignore the discs, my friends, and grab the paper insert in the package to find codes to unlock a character (Professor Chaos, no less) and a couple of challenge levels for the addictive Xbox Live Arcade downloadable video game South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!

Released last fall, the humorous action requires up to four players to set traps, such as lasers within mazelike pathways, to destroy enemies including hippies, old people and ginger kids while controlling some of the cartoons’ most popular snowball-throwing characters.

The real question is, why would viewers get codes to a game played on an entertainment console, the Xbox 360, that does not offer Blu-ray compatibility? More important, the full game costs just 800 Microsoft points ($10).

Seems to me, Paramount could have garnered many kudos with a more consumer-friendly plan. I guess it makes too much sense to include a full version of the game on the Blu-ray disc as a truly spectacular bonus and make it available to run on the PlayStation 3, the only gaming console system compatible with the Blue-ray format.

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