Category: Animated Comedies

I am always woefully behind on my reviews for Beavis and Butt-head. They air Thursday nights, and it’s early Monday morning right now. I should probably get my shit together. Although, in my defense, I’m currently playing through both Dragon Age: Origins as well as Eternal Sonata. Any fans of RPGs can tell you just what kind of time-sinks those games can be, and I’ve been a wee bit distracted from my normal blogging duties. I actually finished watching the last episode on the disc of Dexter I reviewed earlier today Thursday evening, but I became immediately side-tracked in other duties. My ability to focus is sort of disappearing. I would blame it on ADD if I thought I had the slightest chance of having that disorder, but I’m pretty sure I’m just absent-minded and your average “has more interests than time to commit to any of them” kind of person. With all of that out of the way, this week’s Beavis and Butt-head had one short that I was actually fairly disappointed in, but it made up for it by having potentially the funniest short so far of the season, so it ended up as a bit of mixed bag.

In the first short, “Daughter’s Hand,” Beavis and Butt-head watch an old Masterpiece Theatre style movie on their TV and misinterpret the expression “Ask for your daughter’s hand” to mean that if they ask a father for their daughter’s hand, he’ll give his daughter permission to give them hand-jobs. After getting advice from their neighbor Tom Anderson (who thinks the boys want to actually get married), the duo confronts a father of a local neighbor girl who is also confused as to their intentions until they make it all to clear at episode’s end. In the second short, “Tech Support,” Beavis and Butt-head wander off to find an abandoned drive-in theatre only to discover that it has been turned into a tech support call center. After being mistaken for employees, Beavis and Butt-head proceed to give the worst possible advice on the planet only to be commended by the management for keeping customers on the phone for as long as possible to make as much money as they can. When the other employees start to follow our heroes’ leads, disaster awaits. During the video riffing segments, Beavis and Butthead watch 16 and Pregnant, a True Life where a woman thinks she’s psychic, and the music video for Katy Perry’s “Fireworks.”

I’ll be honest; during the 16 and Pregnant, True Life, and “Daughter’s Hand” segments, I hardly laughed. While Tom Anderson’s senile naivety towards the intentions of our heroes was certainly humorous, it seemed like way too much of the short was Beavis and Butt-head sitting on a sidewalk laughing and not saying anything especially funny. Also, the two MTV reality video segments just lacked the same bite and sharp wit that were featured when they excoriated Jersey Shore and the porn addict last week. However, “Tech Support” had me rolling on my couch in tears virtually the entire time. While so much of the charm is the comedic chemistry the pair shares when they’re by themselves ripping on everything they come across, there are still plenty of jokes to be gained by placing them around others, and having them try and talk with over-sensitive and already angry customers calling tech support made for classic Beavis and Butt-head. Also, their riffing during the Katy Perry video was also done and Beavis’s anecdotes about putting literal fireworks in his pants after seeing them explode from Katy Perry’s bosom is good stuff.

I’m not sure if I’m going to keep reviewing this show on a weekly basis. Two weeks in and it’s already confirmed my suspicion that there isn’t enough substance in a half-hour comedy for me to review on a week by week basis. I almost feel as if my average review will come down to me either saying the show is “funny” or “not funny” and it won’t be any more in-depth or critical than that, and I pride myself on trying to have a little more to say than that. While I will certainly keep watching this show every week, I do worry significantly that I just won’t have enough to say. Maybe, I’ll give it one more try, but there’s a healthy chance it will be my last review for the series on an episode by episode basis.

Final Score: B

In the early 1990’s, in the prehistoric era when MTV actually maintained pretensions of being a music video channel, Mike Judge unleashed upon an unprepared populace the soon to be cultural phenomenon, Beavis and Butt-Head. Mike Judge’s iconic teenagers, with the combined wits of a sack of bricks, sat on their couch, viciously lampooned cheesy metal music videos of the day, desperately tried to “score”, set things on fire, and contributed absolutely nothing to society. The animation of the series was/is as low-budget as you can imagine, and the jokes are about as complex as you’d expect from two barely functional and nearly illiterate burn-outs. Yet, Beavis and Butt-head was (and remains) the great intellectual equalizer, because whether your IQ is 160 or something closer to the show’s heroes, there is something so intentionally dumb, crass, and tongue-in-cheek about this series that you literally can’t help but love it. My familiarity with the franchise was mostly limited to the under-rated movie, and after some requests from friends to review the new series for the show, I decided to break my rule about not reviewing half-hour comedies on an episode by episode basis and am now going to review the premiere of the first new episode of Beavis and Butt-head in nearly 15 years, and it was definitely worth the wait.

I’m treading new ground in terms of content again as this is now my first American cartoon I’ve reviewed. It’s also the first show to have to two distinct episodes inside of its half-hour of content. The first episode was “Werewolves of Highland” and the second “Crying.” For purposes of episode numbering, each half hour block of the show is 1 episode and I’m going to be using the very first episode of each block for my review’s title line. In “Werewolves of Highland”, Beavis and Butt-head go to the movies and watch Eclipse from The Twilight Saga. Deciding that the best way to score is to be turned into creatures of the night, the boys allow a homeless man to bite them in the hopes it will turn them into werewolves (and not just give them every transmissible disease on the disease planet instead). In the second story, “Crying,” Beavis starts to cry (from an onion) during The Bachelor and Butt-head rides him mercilessly for being a wuss. As in the classic series, the action of each episode is broken up with the boys riffing over music videos and TV, and this time MGMT, LMFAO, Jersey Shore, and True Life face the biting wit and hilarious barbs of our heroes.

I’ve watched these two episodes twice now, and I think I laughed even harder the second time than I did the first. The show is stupid that it borders on being wicked smart. It takes an almost ridiculous intelligence to make something this dumb so god damn funny. When they’re making fun of the MTV reality show True Life, there’s a good two minutes where all Beavis and Butt-head say is the word porn over and over again, but it’s one of the funniest moments of the whole episode. When they skewer Jersey Shore and the dumb-asses that populate its universe, you have to respect Mike Judge’s balls for attacking his network’s flagship property. The parody of “JWoww” that they do is especially hilarious. Really, there’s just something about these two. They’re hardly functional human beings in any sense, but when they’re ripping something, there’s this ferocious wit from Mike Judge that makes the show so much smarter than it wants you think it is. Even the simplest gags, like the throw-away gag that ends “Crying” is so elegant in how simply its executed against how hilarious it truly is. Beavis and Butt-head has mastered the art of comedic economy.

If you’ve never seen the original show but have been curious all these years about what all of the buzz was towards this cult class, now is the best time to jump right into the series. The general consensus around the blogosphere that the new series premiere was just as funny as you remembered it from the old days (except now, you can actually get the jokes since you’re part of the culture the show skewers). Whether you like the comedic stylings of Woody Allen and Frasier or you think Family Guy is the height modern comedy (since I consider Family Guy to be one of the dumber programs on TV), there will be something in Beavis and Butt-head for you. Every part of me wants to hate this show because of how gleefully and willfully stupid it is, but it is that same inherent idiocy that makes it so stealthily intelligent. Really, you just need to go ahead and give this one a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Final Score: B+