One of the defining landmarks of 1990s lowbrow animation, Mike Judge's extremely popular Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-1997, in its first incarnation) caught on fast and burrowed itself deep in American pop culture. It wasn't always clear when the series offered satirical jabs at society or crude slices of slacker life---but most fans can agree that the series represented an equal amount of both. The original broadcast episodes merged short animated adventures with Mystery Science Theater 3000-style critiques of music videos, both obscure and in heavy rotation on MTV at the time. The blend between the two halves was rarely seamless, but it was a formula that often worked extremely well.
Aside from a handful of one-disc collections and a recalled (and expensive!) boxed set entitled The History of Beavis and Butt-Head, the duo's main representation on DVD was a three-volume series dubbed The Mike Judge Collection. The show's original format was put under the knife; that is, the shorts and videos were separated as stand-alone segments. Additionally, a number of shorts from The Mike Judge Collection were shorter "director's cuts" and roughly one-third of the series' run---mostly the earlier episodes---was casually swept under the rug at the creator's insistence. I'm not a fan of this kind of revisionist history, so here's hoping we'll get a more complete collection somewhere down the road.
Fast forward to modern times: new episodes of Beavis and Butt-Head are set to air beginning October 27th, so this release of Mike Judge's Most Wanted has been designed to raise awareness. 20 cartoons---reportedly, the creator's favorite ones---can be found on this one-disc collection, along with a selection of bonus features for a reasonably low price. Unfortunately, there's nothing new here: all 20 cartoons (listed below) are cherry-picked from The Mike Judge Collection, Volumes 1-3, and the same goes for nearly all of the bonus features. This is unfortunate news for those hoping to "fill in the gaps"...so for obvious reasons, Mike Judge's Most Wanted is meant for casual fans who don't own Beavis and Butt-Head on DVD yet. From top to bottom, this one-disc collection includes the following cartoons:
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
As with the first volume, these episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 format. The transfers aren't all in perfect shape, but they're all relatively clean and clear. The only problem here is a moderate level of interlacing---especially common in animation DVDs---which creates a bit of softness and blurriness during scenes of action. While it's safe to say that these episodes offer a visual improvement over the original broadcast versions, they look exactly the same as those found on The Mike Judge Collection...and that was five years ago, so it's a shame they couldn't have been tightened up a bit.
The audio department offers a quality presentation, as the included English 2.0 Stereo mix is front-heavy but surprisingly dynamic with a lively atmosphere that gets the job done nicely. Unfortunately, no subtitle options have been provided for these episodes---and worse yet, Closed Captioning isn't supported either.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen below, the 1.33:1 menu designs for this release are simply designed and easy to navigate. Each short is presented without chapter breaks, while no obvious layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in one of those annoying "eco-friendly" keepcases with the holes in it, and no inserts of any kind are included.
If you don't own The Mike Judge Collection, Volumes 1-3
, this slimmed-down set actually contains a nice little assortment of extras. Our main attraction is "The Taint of Greatness"
(62 minutes), a three-part behind-the-scenes documentary originally split between the above three volumes. It's an enjoyable ride, featuring plenty of input from Judge and other members of the crew. Early sketches and short clips from MIA episodes are featured here as well...and though it's understandable that Judge finds them embarrassing, it's still frustrating than only glimpses are seen. This is a nice inclusion if you haven't seen it already, but a more updated series overview would've been preferable.
Up next is the original, uncut "Frog Baseball Short", which also appeared on The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 3. This is the short that got Beavis and Butt-Head rolling, so it's nice to have for posterity's sake (even if, like the earlier episodes, it's really rough around the edges).
Last but not least are a few short Preview Clips> from the upcoming relaunch of Beavis and Butt-Head...but, of course, these are readily available on Youtube and other outlets. It's good to know that the original format appears to be intact, especially since they'll be trashing new videos and MTV reality programming. All bonus features are presented in 1.33:1 and do not include subtitles or Closed Captions.
Here's the bottom line: Mike Judge's Most Wanted is aimed at those who don't own The Mike Judge Collection, Volumes 1-3...but even so, I'd recommend any or all of those before this slimmed-down release. You'll get a lot more Beavis and Butt-Head for your buck, from cartoons to bonus features to (gasp!) music videos. Nonetheless, Paramount's one-disc collection pairs the same old technical presentation with mostly recycled extras, so the only real highlight here is a rock-bottom list price. Still, I know a cash grab when I see one. Skip It, unless you're a new fan with only $10 to spare.
Randy Miller III is an office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA who does freelance graphic design, teaches art classes at a local gallery and runs a website or two in his spare time. He also enjoys slacking off, telling lame jokes and writing stuff in third person.