Synopsis: Rare all access behind the scenes look at the making of a South Park episode, which typically go from initial idea to air in only 6 days.
I used to think Matt Stone and Trey Parker, or Trey Parker and Matt Stone depending on who you think deserves top billing, were bona fide geniuses.
After watching 6 Days To Air I am pretty sure they are geniuses, Gods, maniacs and aliens. All rolled into one.
I always wondered how South Park was able to create episodes centred around current events. And not long term satire about problems bubbling away for years or decades, but dynamic, quick time events that would occur out of the blue like a week before. It didn’t make sense for an animated show to be so reactive.
6 Days To Air, as far as I know, didn’t play in the UK on Comedy Central. So when I saw it on Netflix I jumped at the chance to watch it. The South Park creative process is a sacred sanctum and one that is not often open to the public. When shows push the boundaries of taste the writing room has to be a safe place where raw ideas can be shared, polished and shaped without fear of offending. If a line is crossed best it happen within a trusted circle than a wide and public audience where you have no control. To get a candid and honest look in that room and the creative process of one of my favourite shows of all time was eye opening and gob smacking.
As may be evident, although almost unbelievable from the title, Trey, Matt and their small creative team conceive, script, animate, voice and finish every episode on a 6 day turn around. Let me repeat that. 7 days before you watch a new South Park episode chances are, it hasn’t even been formed as an idea yet. It’s an almost inhuman level of creative pressure to work under. It brings it home when Trey is trying to write the epsiode and explains that in order to relieve his writers block he goes home and puts his Xbox on, only to see a trailer for the upcoming new series of South Park airing in 5 days!
And yet, every week, they get out an episode without fail, usually putting the finishing touches on animation and voice work the morning of, before rushing the tapes to air a couple of hours before. Incredible. It made me re-evaluate how on earth The Simpsons is still going. It felt stale years ago and when you consider they take around 9 months from start to finish on a series, how can they stay fresh and compete against South Park, and to a lesser extent Family Guy?
It’s difficult to articulate just how impressive it is. Watching Trey and Matt stalk the South Park complex is like watching two Kings survey the domain they share equal benevolent rule over. They dominate every room they occupy with their presence and personalities. Even when they look like the World is about to collapse in on them they never stop laughing. It is nothing short of inspiring.
For fans of South Park, or anyone interested in how animated shows like it are made, there are some really interesting parts about the animation and voice recording process as well as a potted history of the show’s origins and the relationship between Matt and Trey. It’s really interesting at one point to see them reminisce as two men in their 40’s about their infamous Oscar attendance for South Park The Movie where they rocked up in frocks and tripping balls on acid.
That sums up their attitude perfectly: Fuck it, lets do it anyway.
Conclusion: A must see for fans of South Park or anyone with an interest in how TV shows are put together.
Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Bill Hader
Based on the novel Push by Sapphire