Case Number 09822

BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD: THE MIKE JUDGE COLLECTION, VOLUME 3

Paramount // 1997 // 265 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joe Armenio (Retired) // August 9th, 2006

The Charge

"Beavis, you're a stupid dumbass."
-- Butt-head, in "A Very Special Episode"

Opening Statement

Volume Three of The Mike Judge Collection includes 41 episodes from the final two of Beavis and Butt-head's seven seasons, which originally aired in 1996 and 1997. Fans of the show are familiar with the first two sets' shortcomings and this one is no different: still missing in action are a number of episodes that Mike Judge has taken out of commission on the grounds that he's embarrassed by them, so these DVDs are "best-of" collections rather than the full-season releases that fans would like. Some, but not all, of these missing episodes are available on the out-of-print Time-Life DVDs; as for the rest, it doesn't seem likely we'll see them anytime soon. Also, due to rights issues, most of the music videos on which the boys commented during the episodes are not available; this set has 15 videos, but they're included as extras rather than integrated into the episodes. Aside from containing some notably witty musical criticism and comedic interaction, the videos gave the episodes a pleasingly varied rhythm; they seem a bit choppy and monotonous with these interludes removed. Enough of your bitching, dumbass: watching this set was like a fond reunion with old friends, so let's get to the good stuff.

Facts of the Case

The 41 episodes (each of which run five to seven minutes) contained on the first two discs are as follows:

"No Service": Beavis goes to work at Burger World without Butt-head, who is "busy watching TV"; later Butt-head goes to the World as a customer, bugs Beavis, and commits atrocities upon the drive-thru speaker.

"Sprout": As part of a project for Mr. Van Driessen's class, the boys attempt to grow corn and show an ignorance of agricultural technique.

"Yard Sale": Tom Anderson, who never seems quite to grasp his young friends' lack of responsibility, puts him in charge of his yard sale.

"PTA": For reasons known only to them, the boys decide to attend a PTA meeting. Beavis' suggestion: "I want some tacos...and a chainsaw!"

"Substitute": When Van Driessen injures himself in an attempt at yoga, an irritatingly ebullient sub attempts to invigorate his class.

"Shopping List": Tom Anderson enlists Beavis and Butt-head to buy him some medical necessities, but they're distracted by candy and soft-core magazines.

"Buy Beer": The boys don't quite understand the concept of non-alcoholic beer, on which they attempt to get drunk; "I'm startin' to feel it," says a hopeful Beavis.

"A Very Special Episode": In which they rescue a baby bird and Beavis has worms in his pocket for unknown reasons.

"Just for Girls": Beavis and Butt-head sneak into a school screening of a sex-ed video for girls, with the hope of seeing some naked chicks, but they're grossed out by a childbirth sequence.

"Head Lice": Our heroes employ innovative techniques to get rid of their lice, such as spraying each other with clouds of insecticide and getting intimate with the bug zapper.

"Vaya Con Cornholio": Beavis' hyperactive, vaguely Hispanic, aphorism-spouting alter ego emerges after he drinks too much soda at Burger World, and he's deported to Mexico by a suspicious INS agent.

"Nosebleed": Beavis (weakly): "I'm bleeding...Oh, no...I'm still bleeding..."

"Underwear": While hanging out at a lingerie shop, Beavis and Butt-head ruminate on the proximity of undergarments to a lady's private regions.

"Follow Me": In which Beavis irritates Butt-head by repeating everything he says, which somehow leads to them both getting nailed by cars.

"On Strike": As part of their quest to avoid working, the boys declare themselves on strike at Burger World and attract the attention of a gullible media.

"Take a Lap": A hysterical TV pitchman inspires Beavis and Butt-head to exercise.

"Pierced": They decide to get their ears pierced but, of course, are unable to obtain the necessary parental approval; a protractor is involved in their attempts to do it themselves.

"Ding Dong Ditch": Beavis and Butt-head attempt to play a prank on their neighbors but can't quite get it right; "this is really hard, Butt-head."

"Huh-Huh-Humbug": Beavis falls asleep during a Christmas Eve lecture by his Burger World boss and imagines himself as a Scrooge-esque employer visited by ghosts. At one point he also images himself as a futuristic cyborg killing machine. Both this and "It's a Miserable Life" are longer episodes, about 13 minutes apiece.

"It's a Miserable Life": Butt-head's guardian angel tries to persuade him to commit suicide by showing him how others' lives are improved by his absence.

"Citizen Beavis": At Burger World, they foil a robbery by accident and begin to imagine themselves as having police power. "Beware the long arm of Butt-head." "Beware the long wiener of Beavis."

"A Great Day": Everything comes up roses for Beavis and Butt-head: school is closed, Stewart leaves them alone, and they discover a cool guy who they don't realize is a murderer.

"Dumbasses Anonymous": In which the boys misunderstand the nature of alcoholism and crash an AA meeting in a search for beer and chicks.

"Woodshop": Do I even have to say what this is about? There's a bandsaw.

"Shopping Cart": Butt-head comes up with the idea of eliciting hush money from strangers by wheeling around a grocery store parking lot in a cart and getting hit by cars.

"Bride of Butt-head": Butt-head orders a Russian wife over the phone.

"Special Delivery": Beavis and Butt-head are Burger World's new delivery boys, making their first stop at the house of a strange guy who may or may not have ordered any food.

"TV Violence": Stewart lures Beavis and Butt-head to his house with the promise of watching violent shows via his new satellite dish, but his mom has other ideas.

"The Miracle That Is Beavis": Beavis is inspired by a motivational speaker with big teeth and uses his newfound assertiveness to leave school and get some nachos.

"Impotence": Knowing that impotence has something to do with not scoring, Beavis and Butt-head imagine they have it and go to a clinic.

"Canned": The boys find a can of root beer by the road and shake it up real good. I don't really get this one, to be honest.

"Drinking Butt-ies": Beavis and Butt-head follow their idol Todd to a party and solicit advice from him once he's drunk enough to not realize who he's talking to.

"Garage Band": Beavis and Butt-head create a purely imaginary band and somehow get themselves booked at a hotel as "Metallica."

"Die, Fly Die!": They almost destroy their house trying to kill the titular insect (I said "titular"); more insecticide is sprayed in Beavis' face (see also "Head Lice").

"Breakdown": Principal McVicker finally goes nuts ("Psychologically different," says Van Driessen).

"Speech Therapy": Beavis and Butt-head enjoy speech therapy more than one would expect, mostly because they think they're being allowed to say "butthole."

"Graduation Day": Van Driessen gives his students a fake graduation ceremony to improve their self-esteem, but Beavis and Butt-head misunderstand ("You have many qualities," their teacher tells them by way of praise).

"Butt Flambe": An experiment in narrative: Beavis gets emergency care for a mysterious butt injury that is never directly explained.

"Leave It To Beavis": Beavis is the Beaver and Butt-head is Ward Cleaver (sort of) in a parody of the 1950s sitcom.

"Beavis and Butt-head are Dead": In the series' clip-show finale, a misunderstanding leads everyone at school to believe that the boys have succumbed; Van Driessen, McVicker, Daria, and others recall their favorite memories. This is an epic episode, 22 minutes long.

The Evidence

I love this show. The initiated, those of us who know Beavis and Butt-head as one of the wittiest and most lovable of all sitcoms, tend to get a bit exasperated at defending it against its reputation as crass, lowest-common-denominator pandering, and we humbly suggest that the show is much more than just a footnote in the history of teen and pre-teen vulgarity, the link between The Simpsons and South Park. First of all, Beavis and Butt-head is not the same type of show as those other two, which are affectionately ironic and take on a maximalist, cast-of-thousands, time-of-your-life comic tradition (not for nothing did The Simpsons parody It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World). Beavis and Butt-head is more low-key and observational, driven by character rather than plot (writer Larry Doyle compares it to The Andy Griffith Show and he's right on, although a more obvious antecedent is dumb-guy comedy acts like The Three Stooges).

Mike Judge's command of animation and vocal inflection accounts for much of the show's success; Beavis and Butt-head are pretty limited characters, but Judge gives them hilarious range, capturing not only the feral Beavis's wildly funny freakouts, but also his attempts at earnestness and folksy bonhomie ("Hey, how's it goin'"). He gives us Butt-head's irritation, his ludicrous approximations of authority, and his attempts at smoothness, as well as the way his constant bullying of Beavis slides into rueful paternalism ("Boy, I'll tell ya, Beavis, you're a stupid son of a bitch"). It's masterful stuff, and Judge maintains a similar control over show's tone, making sure that the boys remain hapless and stupid but rarely malicious or detestable, always leaving the audience feeling an odd sympathy for these dumb, irritating kids who are just trying to make their way in a world that's way too much for them.

A favorite technique is to make Beavis and Butt-head interact with some authority figure (the salt-of-the-earth Anderson, hippie Van Driessen) who projects his ideals upon them, only to be (repeatedly) disappointed when they turn out to be nothing but a blank slate upon which TV has done its work. This is the key to the show: the boys literally know nothing except what they've learned from TV (without TV they're helpless, and the impetus for most of their schemes comes from misunderstood commercials). They're literal embodiments of the messages of consumer culture, a culture that arouses with endless giggly innuendo but never even alludes to an adult understanding of sex, and that makes vague but insistent promises of fulfillment through consumption. Beavis and Butt-head are obsessed with "scoring" but have only a dim vision of the good life this entails; in their constant TV viewing, sifting through the messages of ads and the only slightly less pandering shows they support, they've understood the American Dream as a fantasy of instant gratification. Much of the comedy of the show comes from their frustration when the real world fails to match the consumerist utopia they've been promised.

Beavis and Butt-head are also very funny music critics, as proven by the 15 music videos on Disc Three; these run 27 minutes total. Highlights include their discussion of the crappiness of Poison's "I Want Action" ("I can't even begin to talk about how much this sucks") and En Vogue's "Whatta Man," which inspires a conversation on the unchangeability of the artistic text ("Beavis, it's the same video. If she doesn't get naked the first time you see it, she's never gonna get naked."). I also liked their commentary on Soundgarden's "Spoonman," which includes the following bit on the nature of the cinematic image:

Butt-head: Everything on TV is just, like, a bunch of pictures of something.
Beavis: No it's not! Sometime they move.
Butt-head: Yeah, but it's still like, moving pictures.
Beavis: No it's not! They're moving around! I mean, in this video they're not moving around, but in other videos they're moving around!
Butt-head: You're gonna see a moving picture of my foot kicking your ass in about two seconds. Now shut up and sit still.

The set also includes the three-minute short that started it all, 1993's "Frog Baseball," a crude affair in which a somewhat menacing Beavis and Butt-head watch a Thighmaster ad on TV, play air guitar, and whack a frog and a small dog with a baseball bat. Taint of Greatness is a continuation of the documentary found on the first two sets. It consists mostly of interviews with Judge and the show's writers and producers, including Larry Doyle, Kristofor Brown, and animation director Yvette Kaplan. Under the category of "Special Appearances," one finds eight minutes of "Yule Log Clips," in which Beavis and Butt-head deliver commentary on the holidays over stock footage of a fireplace and light Christmas music, as well as the 12-minute "Letters to Santa Butt-head," in which Santa Butt-head answers letters from viewers while whipping Beavis, who is dressed as a reindeer, complete with antlers, harness, and a bit in his mouth (many of the letters, which Butt-head destroys, are from Beavis' female admirers). Less substantial are "Press Conference Shorts" and "Interview with Chris Connelly," which are ads for the pair's final season on MTV and their 1996 movie, respectively. The "Promos" section contains a few short ads for the movie, including a clever one in which Judge "directs" Beavis and Butt-head, as well as a few 2005 promos for other MTV shows, which as far as I know are the first new Beavis and Butt-head material since the show went off the air.

Closing Statement

Given all the rights issues involved in clearing videos for release, we should probably give up on seeing totally intact versions of every episode (we're never gonna score!). We'll also have to hold on to the old Time-Life DVDs to see some of the episodes Judge is withholding. Still, we'll take what we can get.

The Verdict

"You are a bunghole! And so am I. There will be more bungholes after me."
-- Cornholio

Review content copyright © 2006 Joe Armenio; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 88
Audio: 88
Extras: 90
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 265 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Music Videos
* The Original Uncut "Frog Baseball"
* Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-head, Part 3
* Special Appearances
* Promos
* Previews
* Links

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0105950/combined

* Official Site
http://www.mtv.com/onair/beavisandbutthead/main.jhtml