The "South Park" season 18 premiere? Don't get your hopes up too high, bubala. It's going to be quite a while before we get any more "South Park," thanks to the intensive development and final release of the exceedingly excellent South Park: The Stick of Truth, out this week for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. But one of the results of that release is that we have no "South Park" this spring - we have to wait until the fall.

The "South Park" season 18 premiere doesn't have an actual release date yet, but it's set for sometime this fall, and in the past "South Park" has generally returned with the second half of its season in late September. That's a safe bet this time, too, even though it will be the whole season, not half.


That's because the "South Park" season 18 premiere is going to be only the second under the show's new production model, in which seasons have only 10 episodes and air in a single, continuous block, one a week, instead of having a slightly longer season split into spring and fall sections, which had been the case for many many years. The change was a compromise between Matt and Trey ending the show altogether, which they've kind of wanted to do for years. It gave them, essentially, more than half the year off to work on other projects.

"South Park" season 17 was the first 10-episode season, and it aired in the fall. That means this is the first spring without "South Park" in uncounted years, and Matt and Trey's first real, extended break from doing "South Park" since the show began when they were in their early 20s. That gives them the time to work on new projects. They love to do side projects, from "BASEketball" and "That's My Bush" to "Book of Mormon" and "South Park: The Stick of Truth." They had to squeeze those in around "South Park." The new hiatus will give them much more flexibility.

Anyway, we of course have no idea what we'll see in this season of "South Park," since they don't really do that sort of thing so far in advance - unlike, say, "Family Guy" or that yellow-people show. The more interesting question is what they'll work on this spring. This is right around when "South Park" usually starts, and the game sort of takes its place. Will they work on a new show? A new play or movie? There's no way to say, but whatever it is, I'll look forward to it.