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‘South Park’ Set Includes Controversial Episodes

20 Apr, 2011 By: John Latchem

As a result of a storyline concerning depictions of the prophet Muhammad, the “South Park” episodes “200” and “201” caused quite a stir when they aired in April last year.

After protests by some Muslim groups, the “201” episode aired with the name Muhammad bleeped out, and both episodes covered images of Muhammad with a black “Censored” box. In addition, the entirety of the episode’s moral conclusion speech was bleeped out.

The episodes soon were removed from Comedy Central’s rebroadcast schedule and not offered to fans for online viewing through SouthParkStudios.com, causing some speculation as to whether they would later appear on home video.

The April 26 DVD and Blu-ray releases of South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season do offer both episodes, with the package including a sticker that touts the set “Includes ALL Episodes.”

Other episodes in the set include a Tron parody and a three-part superhero story arc. South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season arrives on DVD ($49.99) and Blu-ray ($57.99) just in time for the April 27 premiere of the 15th season on Comedy Central.

Of the set’s 14 episodes, 13 are presented uncensored, including “200,” in which spoken instances of Muhammad are not bleeped out. The “201” episode is presented with a disclaimer that it is presented as it originally aired, and includes a statement from series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone:

“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too.”

In their commentary for the episode, Parker and Stone mention that Comedy Central would not allow an uncensored version, and as a joke most of their commentary is presented as a long bleep.

Representatives from Comedy Central confirmed the commentary bleep was in fact a gag, and stated that the decision was made to present the episode as it aired. I asked the rep to explain why it was the only uncensored episode in the bunch, but they didn't elaborate.

The commentary gag and the fact that the episode is so heavily bleeped out, while "200" doesn't bleep out instances of saying Muhammad, could make one wonder if the censorship of "201" really was part of the joke all along. Given the media attention, I'd say it probably wasn't, but you never know.

Update (4/21/11): A Comedy Central rep has confirmed that the censorship of "201" was genuine and the statement by Parker and Stone was not part of a greater gag. They also passed along this official statement:

"The Complete Fourteenth Season DVD and Blu-ray contain all fourteen episodes of the season, including the episode entitled '201' which is presented as originally broadcast on Comedy Central."

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About the Author: John Latchem

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