'South Park' First Episode: THR's 1997 Review

Courtesy Everett Collection
'South Park' in 1997

On Aug. 13, 1997, Comedy Central introduced South Park to America. The Hollywood Reporter's original review of the first episode is below: 

Though the title makes South Park sound like a frothy soap, this new series from Comedy Central is anything but. It's dismissible juvenilia — a collection of poorly paced, lowest-common-denominator setups that are not even sophomorically funny or scatologically goofy. 

Based on The Spirit of Christmas — an animated short created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker for Brian Graden, a Foxlab executive who sent it out as a video Christmas card — South Park can safely be called ridiculous. We are party to the often vulgar (the show is rated TV-M) and idiotic escapades centering around a quartet of third-graders — Kyle, Kenny, Cartman and Stan — dwelling in the bizarre burg of South Park.

This hamlet, which takes as its inspiration the real Colorado city where reported sightings of UFOs are routine, is a way off-center town marked by weirdness and oddball behavior. 

As for South Park's kiddie protagonists, Stan is the Type A personality, Kyle the brains of the bunch but easily influenced, Cartman the fat boy who is the target of other kids' ridicule, and Kenny the poor kid who, as the Showtime press material tells us, "dies in every episode."

Rendered in the wanting style of a cheesy, early 1960's cartoon, South Park is a witless offering that wants to score as it seeks to be pointedly outrageous and aggressively offensive but clocks in as merely dumb. — Miles Beller

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