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South Park (season 1)

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South Park Season 1

DVD cover art
SeriesSouth Park
Country of originUnited States
NetworkComedy Central
Original runAugust 13, 1997 – February 25, 1998
No. of episodes13
DVD release dateNovember 12, 2002
Next seasonSeason 2

Season one of South Park, an American animated television series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, began airing on Comedy Central in the United States on August 13, 1997.[1] The first season comprises thirteen episodes and concluded its initial airing on February 25, 1998.[2] Parker and Stone wrote and directed most of the season's episodes, but Dan Sterling, Philip Stark, Pam Brady, and David A. Goodman served as writers for some episodes as well. The narrative of the show revolves around four children—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick—and their bizarre experiences in the titular mountain town.

South Park began in 1992 when Parker and Stone met in a film class and created an animated short called "Jesus vs. Frosty". The low-budget, crudely-made film featured prototypes of the main characters of South Park. Fox executive Brian Graden saw the film and in 1995 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. 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. Comedy Central originally ordered only six episodes of South Park for the first season's initial run. However, when the show proved to be a success, it requested an additional seven, which Parker and Stone had to produce quickly. The show was released on DVD in November 2002 in region 1, and in October 2007 in region 2 and 4.

The first season was a ratings success for Comedy Central, receiving a Nielsen Rating rating of 1.3 for the first episode, rising to 6.4 by the tenth episode. Several episodes have received award nominations, including both a 1998 nomination for an Emmy Award in the "Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)" category and one for a GLAAD Award in the "Outstanding TV – Individual Episode" category for the episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride". During the season, South Park won a CableACE Award for "Best Animated Series", and was in 1998 nominated for an Annie Award in the "Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Primetime or Late Night Television Program" category. Television critics gave the season mixed reviews, ranging from assessing the show as to being so offensive that it "shouldn't have been made" and "it doesn't just push the envelope; it knocks it off the table",[3] to "coming pretty damn close" to being a "perfect" television series season.[4]



South Park began in 1992 when creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, at the time students at the University of Colorado, met in a film class. The two discussed filming a three-minute short film involving a boy who befriended a talking stool named Mr. Hankey. Although the Mr. Hankey short film was never made,[5] Parker and Stone created two Christmas-related animated shorts films called "Jesus vs. Frosty" and "Jesus vs. Santa", which served as precursors to the South Park series. The low-budget, crudely made "Jesus vs. Frosty" film featured prototypes of the main characters of South Park, including characters resembling Cartman, Stan, and Kyle. Fox Broadcasting Company executive Brian Graden saw the film and in 1995 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.[6]

The video was popular and was widely shared, both by duplication and over the Internet. When the shorts began to generate interest for a possible television series, Parker and Stone originally conceived the idea of a South Park-like show with four children characters, but with a talking stool named Mr. Hankey as the show's main protagonist; they planned to call it The Mr. Hankey Show. They pitched the idea to Graden, but he rejected it and said, according to Stone, "I'm not putting poo on my network." Parker and Stone adapted their original idea into a show revolving around the South Park town and four children without Mr. Hankey as a protagonist, but they planned to revive the character as a minor supporting role in a future episode.[7] Later, when Comedy Central expressed interest in the series, Parker and Stone brought up the idea of a Mr. Hankey episode during negotiations with the network executives. Parker claimed during a meeting, he said, "One thing we have to know before we really go any further: how do you feel about talking poo?" The executives were receptive to the idea,[8] which Parker said was one of the main reasons he and Stone decided to sign on with the channel. The first episode of the series, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", debuted on Comedy Central on August 13, 1997. Mr. Hankey first appeared in the tenth episode, "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo".[5]

The show appeared as part of a reaction to the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s in the United States, in which issues such as Murphy Brown's motherhood, Tinky Winky's sexuality, and The Simpsons' family values were extensively debated. The culture wars, and political correctness in particular, were driven by the belief that relativism was becoming more relevant to daily life. South Park, one scholar explains, "made a name for itself as rude, crude, vulgar, offensive, and potentially dangerous". Its critics argued that the Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny were poor role models for children while its supporters celebrated the show's defense of free speech.[9]

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 2007

The South Park pilot episode, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", received poor results from test audiences;[7] Parker later acknowledged that he and Stone felt pressure to live up to their previous two shorts and, as a result, "tried to push things ... maybe further than we should".[10] He said later episodes focused more on making fun of topics considered taboo "without just throwing a bunch of dirty words in there".[10] Based on the poor test audience results, Comedy Central executives were unsure whether they wanted to order any additional episodes after "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". However, when Internet buzz began to generate about the two original shorts, the network paid Parker and Stone to write one more episode, but they opted not to commit to a full Comedy Central series until they could read the script. The resulting script was "Weight Gain 4000", which Parker and Stone wrote while they were working on their 1997 comedy-action film, Orgazmo. In writing the script, the duo sought to give Comedy Central executives an idea of how the series would be and how each episode could differ from the others. The network liked the script and agreed to commit to a series when Parker and Stone said they would not write another individual episode script until they signed off on the full show with a season of at least six episodes.[7]

Comedy Central originally ordered only six episodes of South Park for the first season's initial run. However, when the show proved to be a success, they requested an additional seven, which Parker and Stone had to produce quickly. "Pinkeye", which originally aired on October 29, 1997, was the first of those new seven episodes to be produced.[11][12] Rather than making an additional seven episodes right away, Parker and Stone made three holiday episodes ("Pinkeye", "Starvin' Marvin" and "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo") that aired over the course of three months, then aired the remaining four episodes afterward.[13]

"Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" was the only episode that was animated completely with traditional cut paper stop-motion animation techniques.[14] Almost all subsequent episodes were fully computer animated using Power Animator or Maya.[15] By the time the eighth episode, "Damien", was animated, much of the drawing and animation responsibilities that had previously been handled by Parker and Stone were now being delegated to a team of animators.[7] Parker and Stone credit "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" with helping elevate the series during the early part of the season, and felt "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo", the show's first official Christmas special, raised South Park to a new level of popularity and relevance. Parker said of it, "This was the episode that just vaulted everything."[5]


South Park's first season was a ratings success for Comedy Central.[16] The show's first episode, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", earned a Nielsen Rating rating of 1.3, translating to 980,000 viewers, which is considered high for a cable program in the United States.[16] By the sixth episode, "Death", the show had reached a 1.7 rating.[16] The ratings continued to rise rapidly with the eighth ("Starvin' Marvin'") and tenth ("Damien") episodes earning a 4.8 and 6.4 rating, respectively.[16]

Despite the high ratings, reviews from television critics for the season were mixed. In a DVD review, Jeremy Conrad of IGN wrote that he thinks it is rare when a television season is perfect, but "the first season of South Park comes pretty damn close. Almost every single episode in this three-disc set is a classic and each is still funny as hell even after so many viewings over the years."[4] "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", the first episode of the series, received generally negative reviews after airing. L. Brent Bozell, founder and then-president of the Parents Television Council, gave an unfavorable review of the episode, stating: "South Park is so offensive that it shouldn't have been made. It doesn't just push the envelope; it knocks it off the table."[3] Bruce Fretts of Entertainment Weekly thought poorly of the writing and characters, stating that "If only the kids' jokes were as fresh as their mouths" and "It might help if the South Park kids had personalities, but they're as one-dimensional as the show's cut-and-paste animation".[17] Calling the series "sophomoric, gross, and unfunny," Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel believed that the episode "makes such a bad impression that it's hard to get on the show's strange wavelength".[18]

When "Weight Gain 4000" aired, many writers in the mainstream media were still debating the longevity and overall quality of South Park. With the series was still in its earliest stages, the episode continued to shock many due to the characters frequent use of profanities.[19] Nevertheless, several reviewers felt "Weight Gain 4000" was a significant improvement over "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", and felt it went in a much more satirical direction.[20][21] Several media outlets described the fifth episode of the season, "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig", as one of the most popular early South Park episodes.[22][23][24] Tom Carson of Newsday said it was the most outrageous South Park episode until "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" aired three months later.[25] Many reviewers also said the mere title demonstrated the crudeness and originality of South Park.[8][26]


Episodes of the first season have received several award nominations. The season's fourth episode, "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride", was in 1998 nominated for an Emmy Award in the "Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)" category, but lost to the The Simpsons episode "Trash of the Titans".[27] The same episode was also nominated for a GLAAD Award in the "Outstanding TV – Individual Episode" category,[28] but lost to the The Simpsons episode "Homer's Phobia".[29] "Volcano", the season's second episode, was nominated for an Environmental Media Award in the "TV Episodic Comedy" category.[30] However, the eventual recipent of the award was the The Simpsons episode "The Old Man & the Lisa".[31][32] During the series first season, South Park won a CableACE Award for "Best Animated Series",[33] and was nominated for an Annie Award in the "Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Primetime or Late Night Television Program" category.[34]


Ep #TitleWriter(s)Director(s)Airdate[1][2][35]
1"Cartman Gets an Anal Probe"Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey ParkerAugust 13, 1997
Cartman dreams aliens abduct him and insert things into his anus. Upon telling his friends of the dream, Stan and Kyle try to convince him that the "dream" really happened, but Cartman dismisses them. Ike gets abducted and his brother Kyle tries to rescue him. During a first encounter, Kenny gets killed. The boys eventually lure the aliens back, using the machine lodged inside Cartman, thus allowing Ike to break free. Meanwhile, the aliens communicate with the cow, which they consider to be the most intelligent species on the planet. 
2"Weight Gain 4000"Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey Parker and Matt StoneAugust 20, 1997
A big event is planned for the arrival of Kathie Lee Gifford to South Park, who comes to present an award to Eric Cartman. While the children take part in a cruel reenactment of the colonization of America, Mr. Garrison plots to kill Kathie Lee for beating him in a childhood talent contest. Cartman is told by the Mayor to get in shape for the visit, prompting him to start using a bodybuilding supplement (Weight Gain 4000) that makes him grow fatter instead of stronger. Wendy simultaneously discovers that Cartman won the award by cheating and that Mr. Garrison intends to kill Kathie Lee. Mr Garrison is thwarted and is incarcerated in a mental hospital, while Cartman appears on Geraldo because of his obesity. 
3"Volcano"Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey Parker and Matt StoneAugust 27, 1997
Stan's Uncle Jimbo and his friend Ned take Stan, Kenny, Kyle, and Cartman on a hunting trip in the mountains, but Stan is unable to shoot a living target. Back in town, geologist Randy Marsh discovers that the mountain is a volcano that is about to erupt, and the townsfolk dig a trench to try and divert the lava. Cartman tells the story of Scuzzlebutt, a mutant creature, and decides to dress up as the creature to scare the others. But in doing so, Cartman almost gets shot. The mountain erupts and the hunting group find themselves trapped. The real Scuzzlebutt then appears and carries the hunting party to safety. Stan then kills him to make Jimbo proud just like he was with Kenny as the lava is diverted onto Denver city. 
4"Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride"Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey ParkerSeptember 3, 1997
Stan gets a new dog, Sparky, which he finds out is gay. This troubles Stan, who has to concentrate on quarterbacking the South Park Elementary football team against Middle Park. Stan could be key in beating the 70 point spread against them. Sparky, after being hurt by Stan's feelings about his lifestyle, runs away and meets Big Gay Al. Stan, distraught by Sparky's disappearance, sets out to find him as Jimbo and Ned attempt to sabotage the football game against a rival elementary school. The two fail, and South Park loses 73-6. 
5"An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig"Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Dan SterlingTrey Parker & Matt StoneSeptember 10, 1997
Shelley has been beating up Stan and he does not know what to do. Kyle decides to crossbreed his pet elephant with Cartman’s pot-bellied pig, Fluffy, to make little "pot-bellied elephants". Terrance bets Kyle that he can clone a whole person before Kyle can get a pot-bellied elephant. The boy's visit Dr. Mephisto's ranch, showing them his genetically engineered collection. Mephisto steals a blood sample from Stan and he and his assistant Kevin create a clone of Stan for Terrance (Mephisto’s son)'s science project. The cloned Stan breaks free from Mephisto's ranch and proceeds to terrorize the town. Mephisto shoots the clone, and Shelley takes the blame for the damage. When the science projects are due Terrance presents a monkey with five buttocks, but Kyle has nothing until the pig gives birth to a pot-bellied pig that looks like Mr. Garrison. 
6"Death"Trey Parker and Matt StoneMatt StoneSeptember 17, 1997
Stan's Grandpa Marsh asks him to assist his suicide but Stan refuses. Meanwhile, Sheila Broflovski calls for a boycott of Terrance and Phillip in protest of its toilet humour. Kenny's explosive diarrhea spreads to the whole town. Grandpa Marsh convinces Stan to kill him. The boys try to help him, until Death shows up and begins to come after the boys ignoring Grandpa. The network takes Terrance and Phillip off the air after residents of South Park are catapulted at their building, much to the dismay of Death. Grandpa demands again to be killed, but his own Grandpa appears and warns him not to, else he will end up in limbo. Grandpa announces that he will holiday in a dangerous destination instead. The parents return from their protest but immediately start another over the show that replaces Terrance and Phillip
7"Pinkeye"Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Philip StarkTrey Parker and Matt StoneOctober 29, 1997
Kenny is killed by the Mir space station, and becomes a zombie. This gets unnoticed as he is thought to have dressed up for Halloween. Those who get bitten become zombies also, but are diagnosed with pinkeye. Chef is the only one to realize the truth and manage to tell Stan, Kyle, and Cartman about it just before he gets bitten too. The boys try to kill all the zombies until they realize they just have to kill the original zombie, Kenny, to get everybody back to normal. He is killed with a chainsaw, and when he appears to revive during his funeral, a statue falls on him, and a jet crash into the statue. 
8"Damien"Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam BradyTrey ParkerFebruary 4, 1998
A new student named Damien joins South Park's elementary school. But it is revealed that he has been sent by his father Satan to find Jesus and arrange a boxing match between the two. The majority of South Park residents bet on Satan to win the match due to his enormous size and muscular physique, but Satan ultimately throws the fight and reveals he bet on Jesus, thus winning everybody's money. Cartman is livid when he discovers that the bout clashes with his birthday party. 
9"Starvin' Marvin"Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam BradyTrey ParkerNovember 19, 1997
The boys send money to an African charity to get a sports watch, but they are instead sent the Ethiopian child Starvin' Marvin. Cartman is accidentally sent to Ethiopia himself, where he learned activist Sally Struthers is actually hoarding the charity's food for herself. Meanwhile, genetically engineered turkeys attack South Park residents while Chef rallies the residents to fight back, in a parody of the film Braveheart
10"Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo"Trey Parker and Matt StoneTrey Parker and Matt StoneDecember 17, 1997
Kyle, who is Jewish, feels excluded from the rest of town during Christmas, and is comforted by Mr. Hankey, a talking and singing Christmas poo. Mr. Hankey does not come alive in front of anyone else, so everyone begins to think Kyle is losing his mind. Meanwhile, Mrs. Broflovski protests the school's Christmas play which leads to the townspeople removing all religious aspects of Christmas from South Park in order to remain politically correct and inoffensive. 
11"Tom's Rhinoplasty"Trey ParkerTrey ParkerFebruary 11, 1998
Mr. Garrison gets a nose job and quits teaching to be a model. Meanwhile, Stan has a crush on Miss Ellen, the substitute teacher, leading Wendy to threaten her to stay away from Stan. Determined to win her man back, Wendy decides to dig a little deeper into Miss Ellen's background to find out what secrets she is hiding. Ms. Ellen is found to actually be an Iraqi fugitive, and is kidnapped from the classroom by Iraqi insurgents. While they take her into custody and shoot her into the center of the Sun via a rocket, Wendy reclaims Stan as her boyfriend and takes great pleasure at Ms. Ellen's fate. Mr. Garrison, frightened by the attention and horny women, decides to return to his normal looks. 
12"Mecha-Streisand"Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Philip StarkTrey ParkerFebruary 18, 1998
Mr. Garrison takes his class on an archaeological dig for arrowheads. Cartman finds a mysterious triangle and the kids get on TV about this important discovery, which captures the attention of Leonard Maltin. He comes to South Park to warn about Barbra Streisand's desire to get the triangle. Streisand comes to South Park and tries to get the triangle from the kids. She finally gets the other triangle and becomes Mecha-Streisand, wreaking havoc upon the town. Maltin tells Chef to call Robert Smith of The Cure to come to the rescue. 
13"Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut"Trey Parker and David A. GoodmanTrey ParkerFebruary 25, 1998
Cartman begins to wonder why all the kids at school have fathers but him. When he asks his mother who his real father is, she tells him about the night of the Drunken Barn Dance, when he was conceived. Unfortunately, Mrs. Cartman had sex with just about every man in town that night. Dr. Mephisto can perform a DNA test to determine who the father really is, but the test costs $3,000. Eric tries to raise the money with the help of Stan and Kyle by sending a video to America's Stupidest Home Videos. He becomes annoyed when he realizes that the video is of his holding a tea party with stuffed animals, but the video wins second place and thus the $3,000 runner-up prize. 

Media release

South Park - The Complete First Season[36][36][37]
Set Details
  • 13 Episodes
  • 3-disc Set
  • 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Special Features[38]
  • Episode introductions by Trey Parker and Matt Stone
  • Cartman "O Holy Night" video
  • Ned "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" video
  • Four original television promos
  • "A South Park Thanksgiving" featured exclusively on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • The Boys present at the 1997 CableACE Awards
Release Dates
Region 1Region 2Region 4
November 12, 2002October 22, 2007October 4, 2007

Six first season episodes were released in a three-VHS set on May 5, 1998, marking the first time South Park was made available on video. The set included "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe", "Weight Gain 4000", "Volcano", "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride", "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" and "Death".[39] The first DVD releases came later that year, when the first twelve episodes were released by Warner Home Video on October 27 on the compilation collections South Park, Volume 1,[40] Volume 2,[41] and Volume 3.[42] The last episode of the season, "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut", was released on the South Park, Volume 4 on December 14, 1999.[43]

South Park - The Complete First Season was originally released by Warner Home Video as a three-disc region 1 DVD box set in the USA on November 12, 2002, received a MA rating.[44][45] As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material including episode introductions for every episode, two Christmas carols by Eric Cartman and Ned, a short clip featuring Jay Leno, and another one in which the four boys present at the 1997 CableACE Awards. Commentaries for each episode were initially produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but when the two found out that the commentaries were to be edited, they requested the commentaries to be pulled off altogether. Instead, the commentaries were released unedited by Comedy Central on a set of five CDs.[38] South Park: Complete Series 1 was released on October 4, 2007 in region 4,[46] and on October 22, 2007 in region 2, and received a 15 rating.[47]

"Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" was released again on November 13, 2007, on the compilation DVD Christmas Time in South Park.[48]


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  43. "South Park, Vol. 4: Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, Gracie Lazar, Mona Marshall, Trey Parker, Eliza Schneider, Matt Stone, Adrien Beard, Toni Nugnes, Eric Stough: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/South-Park-Vol-Mary-Bergman/dp/B00000JQ9T/ref=pd_sim_d_3. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  44. "South Park: Season 1 (1997)". Netflix. http://www.netflix.com/Movie/South_Park_Season_1/60030529. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  45. "Season 1 (Region 1)". TVShowsOnDVD.com. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/releases/South-Park-Complete-1st-Season/1413. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  46. "Season 1 (Region 4)". JB Hi-Fi Online. http://www.jbhifionline.com.au/Product/279337/SOUTH-PARK-(Season-1)-(3-DVD-Set). Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  47. "South Park - Season 1 [DVD] [1997]: (Region 2)". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/South-Park-Season-1-DVD/dp/B000UG4LLI/. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  48. http://dvd.ign.com/articles/836/836231p1.html

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