I think a lot of people stopped watching South Park after the third or fourth series, because it just descended into crass shock tactics and pointless cruelty. I certainly did. It was therefore something of a surprise to find season 10 (so far, I’ve not finished it yet) is as sharp, funny and well-observed as The Simpsons at its peak.
Stand out episodes so far include Smug Alert! (in which a trend for hybrid cars cause an outbreak of smugness among the ecologically superior), Cartoon Wars (free speech vs offensiveness) and Tsst! (The Dog Whisperer) (my favourite episode – a spoof on Supernanny and its ilk). The latter in particular manages to make all the characters sympathetic (even Cartman!), reveal emotional depth and motivation to them that wasn’t obvious before, make a wider social commentary, introduce a new catchphrase (“Tsst!”) and be laugh-out-loud funny at the same time. It’s moments like this that are responsible for season 10’s Emmy award win.
There are some WTF episodes, such as the opener and the one about Oprah Winfrey’s vagina (seriously, don’t ask!), and even ones that combine being pinging-off-the-wall crazy with outright hilarity (such as the Emmy-winning World of Warcraft episode). Blizzard actually chipped in to help with that segment, lending their own computers and character models to the team – along with access to the Burning Crusade alpha server. That’s before you get to one that combines bats*** 9/11 conspiracy theories with finding out who took a dump in the school urinal.
Season 10 was fairly popular in the US, so if you’re Stateside you may have already seen and enjoyed these episodes. But if you missed it, and didn’t think South Park was funny any more, watch it right now.