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A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere. The tiny mountain town of South Park, Colorado has proven that beyond a doubt for the last eight seasons. Fortunately for fans of this Comedy Central pillar, series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker obviously had no lack of ideas for their ninth season. Over the course of fourteen episodes, Mr. Garrison gets a sex change, Cartman thwarts a hippie music festival that threatens to destroy the town, the boys (Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny) start a talent agency, Kenny leads angelic forces in an epic battle against Satan’s minions at the gates of heaven, and the boys become really bad at losing at baseball. And that’s just the first half of the season. The most notable episode from this season is definitely the controversial "Trapped in the Closet," where Stan is "recognized" as the reincarnation of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and a dejected Tom Cruise locks himself in Stan’s closet. Naturally, over the course of the episode, TV reporters get to decry that "Tom Cruise still won’t come out of the closet." It's funny enough on its own, but when John Travolta and R. Kelly end up in the closet as well (all singing together "Now I’m trapped in the closet. I’m trapped in the closet too"), that’s worth the price of the set on its own. After nine seasons it’s also nice to see that one of the series key running gags, the perpetual cluelessness of the adults, still isn’t getting old. It's as if the adult townspeople only know how to behave based on movies they’ve seen (this season’s cinematic targets include Rocky (in "The Losing Edge"), The Day After Tomorrow ("Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow"), and Pet Cemetery ("Marjorine"), and their inevitably clichéd over-reactions still provide many of the show’s best moments. The commentaries from Parker and Stone are once again typically short; they usually last only a few minutes into each show before they end it with "Ok, onto the next show now" not even trying to conceal that they really want to get through the recording session as quickly as possible. That might seem lame on other shows, but on South Park--a show where 8-year-olds send a talking killer whale to the moon through the Mexican Space Agency for $200,--somehow it’s totally fitting. --Daniel Vancini Stills from South Park: The Complete Ninth Season (click for larger image)