"Come on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine!"South Park is an [in]famous animated series by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, entering its eighteenth season on Comedy Central, and covering the misadventures of fourth grade school kids in the titular mountain town of South Park, Colorado. The show originated from two irreverent short films the creators made in 1992 and 1995 called The Spirit of Christmas (a.k.a. Jesus vs. Frosty and Jesus vs. Santa).The central characters are Stan Marsh, the straight man of the group; Kyle Broflovski, a morally fixated Jew (and Stan's best friend); Eric Cartman, a fat, sociopathic bully; Kenny McCormick, a young pervert who is usually rendered unintelligible by his tightly drawn orange parka; and Leopold "Butters" Stotch, a nervous, gentle boy with extreme naivité and a tendency to grow a spine at the most unexpected of moments. These five main boys and their friends, family and neighbors find themselves embroiled in all sorts of weirdness, ranging from cults, aliens, and monsters to exaggerated-for-comic-effect versions of ripped from the headlines problems, to obvious parodies of action and family movies.South Park became highly controversial by being offensive in about as many ways possible - bad language, violence, nudity and perverse sexual references, and witheringly sarcastic, highly irreverent, and downright obscene approaches to race, religion, celebrities, politics, homosexuality, obesity, the mentally challenged and just about everything that's possible for people to get riled up over. To add fuel to the fire, all the main characters were children, and the animation was done in a deliberately crude, brightly colored style that made it look like it was made for or by pre-schoolers.It initially relied on toilet humour (especially in the first season) but became more intelligent and satirical as time wore onnote and even won a Peabody Award in 2006. Some of the show's early fanbase have long abandoned the show, shown by the fact that after its second season the show dropped from 9.1 million viewers to about 3 million viewers, a number which the show has hovered around ever since. Still, it remains one of Comedy Central's highest-rated shows.While the author tract is very evident, they have (begrudgingly) earned a measure of respect from all over the world because they have made a point of targeting everyone. They have lampooned subjects dear to the hearts of social-conservatives, socialists, liberals, religious fundamentalists, actively hostile atheists, political correctness gone mad, corporations and business interests, anarchists and hippies, trendy people, geeks, teenagers, the elderly, everyone.An astonishingly short turn-around time helps keep the show topical with current events. The show is produced using the same graphics engine that helped create the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It has been compared to building a sandcastle with a bulldozer and only early shorts and the pilot episode was done manually with cut-outs and physical backdrops. In some cases, an episode can be produced a matter of days before it airs, allowing for current events to be parodied almost as soon as they happen. An episode on the capture of Saddam Hussein aired just a few days after it happened and excerpts from both Barack Obama and John McCain's post-election speeches were featured in the episode that aired less than 24 hours after it happened (in both cases the episodes themselves were obviously not dependent on those facts but had some dialogue altered in the narrow gap they had). The documentary 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park sheds light on this lightning fast production schedule.The movie based on the series had a short (for Hollywood) turn-around time as well. Just two years after the show premiered on TV, the world beheld the theatrical release of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.The show has had a variety of video games produced over the years, of varying gameplay style, quality, and level of involvement of Stone and Parker. Forthcoming Obsidian Entertainment title South Park: The Stick of Truth is being scripted and creatively overseen by Stone and Parker, and specifically developed to look and feel like a TV episode.There was also an arcade pinball game, posthumously famous for having a video mode too offensive for Comedy Central and for being the last game manufactured by Sega Pinball (the two items are presumably not related).Be sure to check out the characters page and vote for your favorite episode.Most episodes of the show are available for free viewing in the United States at the official website. Seasons 3 and onward are available in their original, unedited versions (barring 200 and 201 which are currently unavailable and noted that any verion that they put up on the site WILL be censored in some form). All prior episodes have all the bleeps of their network broadcasts, and are in pan and scan format.
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