Posts tagged beavis and butthead
Tonight’s season finale of Beavis and Butthead “Whorehouse / Going Down”, the conclusion to the show’s first full season in 14 years, is a great indicator of what Mike Judge did to replicate the success of his hilariously simple-minded cartoon. The secret to the show’s longevity is that it hasn’t changed at all. Beavis and Butthead are still puzzling over the superficiality of the pop culture detritus that they’ve surrounded themselves with. And they’re not any wiser for it. Judge understandably thinks there’s still a lot of insubstantial crap at the bottom of MTV’s pop culture barrel. So why should Judge’s iconoclastic morons change if MTV and its lowest common denominator programming hasn’t? “Whorehouse/Going Down” isn’t the best episode of season 8 (I’m rather partial to “The Rat/Spill”). But it’s a great model for why Judge’s comedy is still a lot of puerile fun.
Often, the simple but clever punchline to any given Beavis & Butthead segment is revealed somewhere in the middle of the skit’s proceedings. Then the story moves on as if nothing had happened. Because the joke of the show is that nothing fazes these guys. Because nothing really changes around them. Judge’s style of comedy is fundamentally bitter but he coaches his vitriol in jovially sophomoric jokes. He meets the world that he objects to on its own level. Because you shouldn’t have to talk down to people to know that they’re stupid.
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The first short of episode 11 was “School Test.” The plot was pretty simple – Beavis and Butt-head are pulled into Principal McVickers office and told that they must pass the state test, otherwise many faculty members might get laid off. So, with several teachers in tow, they attempt to do the impossible – teach Beavis and Butt-head. As you can imagine, the task proves just as impossible as it sounds.
Naturally, when Butt-Head claims he’s had an epiphany, it’s that No. 2 pencils are funny because, as Beavis chimes in, “It’s a poo pencil.” Unstoppable good intentions, meet immovable idiocy. Besides, it’s hard to be persuaded that B + B, or any kid in their position, should put in any extra effort when McVicker—as an ostensible stand-in for most burned-out high school administrators—tells a news reporter (don’t ask) how he really feels: “It’s not me, it’s them. They ruin our school. They ruin everything.”
At first I felt like this short was a bit off, when it dawned on me – “School Test” feels a little more like the shorts of the original run, especially “Young, Gifted & Crude” which had B&B ending up in a class for gifted students after taking a standardized test. The short is rich with fun characters, a simple idea, and a clever payoff. I wonder if Mike Judge and crew will return to this episode’s plot points in future episodes, as Principal McVickers seems to have been ousted as principal, and Van Driessen was fired (maybe). I’m guessing not, but we’ll see. I’d love to see a vengeful McVickers in future episodes, and perhaps a new character to step in as principal. (How ’bout Daria? Why the heck not.)
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Copy Machine / Holding
During “Copy Machine” while catching up with True Life: I Have A Fetish, Beavis unleashes his/Judge’s interpretation of a growling hardcore singer/restaurant host barking out directives to waiting customers. (It makes sense in context.) It’s the show’s funniest moment since returning and one of several spit-takes in that very scene alone, never mind the episode’s cumulative 22 minutes.
There is very little in the way of serious social commentary between both “Copy Machine” and Holding.” Not that there could or should be when the plots involve Beavis getting his ass stuck in the school copy machine and white-trash porn stars mistaking he and Butt-Head for meth dealers, respectively.
For once, our misfit icons aren’t the biggest idiots in the room. In “Holding,” that honor would belong to the aspiring XXX auteur rolling film out of his mom’s basement and arguing with his assistant over what’s a better use of their budget: drugs or “a dual-band, HD-streaming router” (that cracked me up). When the cops show up in a raid, even poor mom—who’s been heard but not seen up to that point—gets arrested in her bathrobe. It’s a great, slightly mean-spirited kicker, and one that admirably requires extra animation for a small but memorable sight gag.
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The Rat; Spill
One of the things I like most about Beavis and Butt-Head is how straightforward the stories are. This isn’t a comedy like Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, where a bunch of different plot threads tie together at the end of an episode. Mike Judge starts with a simple conceit and builds a series of simple yet hilarious jokes around the concept. “The Rat” is a prime example of this. The guys discover a rat in their house. That’s it, that’s the premise. Nothing more, nothing less. Hilarity ensues when the guys, unable or unwilling to kill the rat, decide to make it their pet.
When a rat invades the guys’ apartment they take revenge for nacho theft! And after a raging battle with the classic mousetrap, they finally set the damn thing but it does jack shit because the rat gets free. Eventually, if you can’t beat him, join him as the rat takes a liking to Beavis so he takes him to Burger World where he goes to town on all the food. Of course the manager gets wind but by the time he gets there its RATS!
“The Rat” is almost Seinfeld-ian, or at least in its later, looser years. The aforementioned hardware worker could have just as easily been any of Jerry’s random, uncomfortable season-nine foils. And the old-timey, Vaudevillian montage of B and B’s mouse-trapping antics—and even Beavis’ awareness of how a Battles video could have been funnier with silent-film ragtime piano—shares Seinfeld’s itch for getting in a Three Stooges state of mind. Even their constant state of anguish over the rat—from that horrifying clicking sound when it gets caught in the trap to their initial grief that it was eating their nachos—has a warped realism, and is a nearly perfect little vignette about nothing.
Sometimes a simple premise just works, and “Rats” proves that. It’s nothing fresh or original, but it gives fans a look at Beavis and Butt-head at their best. The scene with these two morons setting the trap is comedy gold all on its own. I do wish the episode had lingered at Burger World a little longer, but the short ends on a fun, ironic note.
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Beavis & Butt-Head are coming back to MTV in a big way. It’s hard to explain just how amazing Mike Judge’s animated duo were back in the 90s, how much they meant to disaffected teenagers who used to watch the channel for actual music videos. Simply put, Beavis & Butthead ruled. Good news, they still do.
Fans of Beavis & Butt-Head crowded into a packed meeting room Thursday at Comic-Con International for a first look at the upcoming return of the 1990s animated series to MTV. Jackass star Johnny Knoxville led a discussion with creator Mike Judge, who was on hand to answer questions, tell stories and drink a few beers.
He said that with their return this fall, Beavis and Butt-Head will again be critiquing music videos, a staple of the 1990s series, as well as Jersey Shore. “It felt kind of like pay dirt to me,” he said, noting he never felt “good” after watching the hit MTV reality series, making it a perfect fit for Beavis & Butt-Head.
Watch Beavis and Butthead Coverage and Panel Online:
Beavis and Butt-Head made their return to television this summer and while I admit, I had some reservations about the series’ revival, after viewing the footage shown at Comic-Con today, I’m not only relieved to see that these two animated teens are exactly as they were in the ‘90’s, but I may even suggest that the revival of this series could be better than the original. If it is, we have MTV to thank, in more ways than one.
Over all, the panel left me feeling excited for the series return. Not only does the show have me feeling nostalgic for the earlier episodes, but it’s also going to be great to see Beavis and Butt-Head share their opinions on current television.
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