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'South Park' is back! So how can the show keep from 'getting old'?

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The South Park mid-season finale famously left audiences teetering in limbo, with Stan’s parents divorced, Stan seemingly living somewhere else, and the episode’s critique of the show’s one-crazy-adventure-after-another story structure casting doubt on whether Matt Stone and Trey Parker even wanted to continue making South Park.

But praise Queen Spider, South Park is back, at least through 2013. Tonight’s episode seems like classic South Park shenanigans, too, at least judging from the episode title — “Ass Burgers” — and the preview clip of Eric Cartman going to the school nurse, faking some kind of ailment in his buns, and her finding a hamburger hiding in his pants. 

So, everything’s back to normal? Goodness, I hope not. South Park is at its best when it’s defying expectation, so I was relieved to see the status quo of this small Colorado town upended in “You’re Getting Old.” The last thing this show needs to do is get comfortable (that’s a Simpsons did it!” South Park should happily avoid), so the notion that these boys are actually growing older, that things won’t always remain the same, is a very welcome one. Remember when the boys graduated from 3rd to 4th grade? What if they made it all they way to the 5th grade, and had to deal with all the added responsibility? Remember when Kenny really did die, and remained dead for a whole season? What if some disaster befalls South Park — as has happened multiple times — but the town doesn’t go back to normal the next week?

What else would you like to see change on South Park? What would you like to stay the same?

Follow Adam on Twitter @adambvary

Read more:

‘South Park’: Matt Stone and Trey Parker Name Their 15 Best Episodes (and 53 Worst)

‘South Park’ vs. ‘The Simpsons’: Which is the better beloved animated comedy?

‘South Park’: 21 ‘They Did WHAT?!’ Episodes