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Tooning In

They may look cute and innocent, but the characters on the new Comedy Central animated series "South Park" are not to be mistaken for your standard, wholesome cartoon kids. Indeed, the show, which debuted in August, has drawn comparisons to the decidedly unwholesome "Beavis and Butt-head" series. Simply put, this is animated fare of the most offbeat variety.

Which may explain why "South Park" is generating such buzz--even among a crowded TV lineup. In an irreverent tone, the show follows third-graders Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny through misadventures as bizarre as being abducted by aliens to hunting with hand-grenade-toting relatives. And there's even an episode in which the boys try to genetically engineer an elephant that's the size of a pot-bellied pig.

Does all of this sound like the makings of a hit TV program--and, not incidentally, a lucrative licensing opportunity? It should. At press time, "South Park" was riding a wave of publicity surrounding its premiere. If this heightened level of anticipation is any indication, "South Park" could well become a hot property among Generation X viewers. Skeptical? Think of it this way: Who ever would've guessed a fledgling "Beavis and Butt-head" would achieve mainstream popularity?

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tooning In.

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