Posts tagged Mike Judge
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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Used Car, Bounty Hunters
I actually thought “Used Car/Bounty Hunter” was the best episode of what has been a damn funny season – it had me in tears. Mike Judge generally gives a couple of dry line readings that absolutely slay me per episode and he had maybe 5 or 6 tonight. His ability to deliver the simplest lines and make them hilarious was on display when the car salesmen offered zero down on a car and Butthead responded: “Whoa – we have zero!” The riffing on True Life was gold, and I loved the whole bounty hunter plotline – the fact that B + B would think that whoever had their pictures up at the post office – whether it be the Postmaster General, a karate class made up of 10 year olds, or Barack Obama – were actually people that had skipped bail was just a great crystalization of their stupidity. Butthead also had one of the lines of the night after the girl at the post office explained that the Postmaster General runs the post office and he responded “Oh -how the mighty have fallen.” And while I’ll agree the Jersey Shore stuff can get stale, I thought the riffing on it tonight was great – I loved both the “that’s how she and answers the phone – I am a whore, hello” and how they ran with Snooki’s “you don’t usually have sex with your big brother” line and ran with it – “unless no one else is around….mom and dad are at the movies.”
Things did start off on a high note. “Used Car” begins and ends with the guys flinging pizza at each other in the lot of Tardino’s used cars (as mentioned last week, there’s been a nice adherence to basic story structure since the reboot). In between, they unwittingly rope the dealership’s naïve salesman and greedy manager into thinking they’re not only in the market for a vehicle, but are savvy customers to boot.
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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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Doomsday; Dumb Design
Then right off the bat in the next half-hour’s opener, “Doomsday,” the joke’s on hysterical media and panic mongers. In the midst of a city-wide evacuation, a newscaster in a Hazmat suit preposterously declares it to be “utter, apocalyptic devastation.” The news doesn’t so much instill fear in Beavis as it does confuse him about the meaning of apocalyptic. In other words, “devastation” would have done just fine. It’s even funnier the second time around, after the commercial break, when Butt-Head runs into a female government worker and commends her on surviving the “acopablypse” and asks if she’d like to “re-copulate.” Plant the seed for a one-liner, let it breathe, hit it again and then stack it. Now that’s good comedy.
They wind up looting the town, trashing Stewart’s house and even try to make it with a female rescue worker they mistake for the last woman on Earth. They end up hanging out in a redneck’s house (Harry Sachz), who proceeds to pummel the two when he returns home. Before he lays a beating on B&B, they mistake him for a zombie. Funny, considering Sachz died in the show’s original run. Wonder if they’ll explain his return at some point.
You guys ever see 28 Days Later? Its kinda like that, where toxic fumes seep through North Highland and threaten everyone in a 20 mile radius. Good news, everyone pretty much gets out OK, bad news is Beavis and Butthead did not. As a result, the guys think they are the last beings on Earth and that “The World is Ours”. These guys go nuts too, ransacking a 7-Eleven and then moving into Stewart’s house, but when they believe in finding the last girl on Earth, they even strike out on that shit. Eventually, they settle in some other dude’s house and when he comes home he kicks the shit out of them both.
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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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One pattern that remains consistent is Mike Judge saving his toothiest material for the back end. (Damnit.) “Drones” is an almost taxing 22 minutes of B And B, if that’s possible, and bears fundamental similarities to Beavis And Butt-Head Do America. Once again, the guys wander off from their designated group and manage to nearly affect the safety and well-being of the American people. Only this time, it’s less a goof on overanxious, Clinton-era watchdogs than a pretty bleak and vicious critique of superfluous war-mongering and dubious recruitment strategy.
The music video for Deadmou5 actually addressed what happened to Daria: she moved. Yeah we all actually knew that but I think it indicates that the new episodes of B&B happened AFTER Daria moved and got her spinoff thus she won’t be in the show, which honestly I don’t know why people thought differently anyway as Daria completed her story and putting her back in B&B would just be character de-evolution, and who wants that? Did like Beavis’s story espiecally him admitting that the guy would just say he made it up to other people.
To wit, the two literally misread a sign for the “Drone Control” room as “Drain Center” (i.e. the bathroom) and subsequently assume the training module is a live game of Grand Theft Auto. They tire soon enough, after Butt-Head sums up that, “Mine doesn’t have any guns or bombs. This must be, like, the kids’ version.” Where were the actual trainees, you ask? Having birthday cake down the hall. Heavy, heady stuff, and closer to South Park satire, even if not likely to double viewers over.
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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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