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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Beavis & Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 1
Beavis & Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 1
Paramount // Unrated // November 8, 2005
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Bill Gibron | posted November 12, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Product:
After years of incredibly limited availability to DVD lovers, MTV, Paramount and series creator Mike Judge finally release Beavis and Butt-head in an 'official', collection of 40 creator-approved "favorites". While it's great to have the hard rock retards back in the pop culture limelight, the actual presentation of the series on the digital medium might leave fans, and those familiar with the infamous show, a little perplexed.

The Plot:
For those unfamiliar with the show, Beavis and Butt-head live in a place of no parental authority and unlimited free time. At school, they are mocked and ridiculed, with only the snide intellectual Daria Morgandorffer and wussy Stuart Stevenson as their so-called "friends". Their teachers - the dippy hippy Mr. Van Driessen, the brazen Mr. Buzzcut, and panicky principal McVicker - see the boys as pariahs, a disruptive element to an already troubled student body. But Beavis and Butt-head just want to be normal teenagers. They are obsessed with sex and other bawdy bodily functions. They work at Burger World and worship a local tough named Todd. With their incessant TV watching, the boys lead lives filled with constant corrupting stimulation. Like anarchists with ADD, Beavis and Butt-head speak their mind and never fully discern the potential pitfalls. It makes for some fascinating, and funny adventures.

Not really "episodes" in the legitimate sense (since a Beavis and Butt-head show consisted of one to two "cartoons", with accompanying music video commentaries) but, instead, a collection of Mike Judge's 40 favorite B&B outings, we get the following storylines as part of the three disc DVD parameters on this set (most are taken from later seasons of the series - 4, 5 and 6 to be exact):

Disc 1:
"No Laughing" -the boys are forbidden to laugh in class.
"Home Improvement" - the boys help Mr. Anderson paint his house.
"Lawn and Garden" - the boys help Mr. Anderson prune his trees.
"Washing the Dog" - hoping to get in his will, the boys wash Mr. Anderson's dog.
"The Crush" - the boys have a "thing" for local hooligan, Todd.
"Plate Frisbee" - the boys discover that Stuart's family heirloom make a fun toy.
"Most Wanted" - the boys befriend a serial killer.
"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Huh Huh" - the boys fail a psychological test.
"Patients, Patients" - the boys visit the local clinic.
"Blackout!" - a lack of power leaves the boys without TV...not a good idea.
"Rabies Scare" - the boys seek medical attention when Beavis is bitten by a dog.
"1-900-BEAVIS" - the boys discover phone sex.
"Madame Blavatsky" - hoping to 'score', the boys seek some psychic advice.
"Late Night with Butt-head" - the boys join the A/V club and put on a talk show.
"Pool Toys" - the boys help Mr. Anderson build his pool.
"The Final Judgment of Beavis" - after an accident, Beavis meets St. Peter.
"Right On" - the boys make a memorable appearance on a conservative talk show.
"Date Bait" - the boys are tricked out of their movie tickets by a couple of bimbos.
"Butt is it Art?" - the boys discover the joys of painting at the local museum.
"Figure Drawing"- the boys attend an art class featuring nude models.

Disc 2:
"Mr. Anderson's Balls" - the boys begin selling used golf balls.
"Teen Talk" - after a school prank, the boys must appear on a local talk show.
"Manners Suck" - the boys confront a shady etiquette instructor.
"The Pipe of Doom" - Butt-head gets stuck in a pipe.
"Safe Driver" - the boys discover the joys of driver's ed, and highway safety films.
"Liar, Liar" - after being accused of stealing, the boys undergo a lie detector test.
"Generation in Crisis" - an amateur documentarian makes the boys his subjects.
"Beavis and Butt-head vs. the Vending Machine - the boys want some pork rinds.
"Radio Sweethearts" - the boys become guest DJs on the local radio station.
"The Great Cornholio" - after the mass consumption of sweets, Beavis goes bonkers.
"Held Back" - the boys get held back, but not just one grade.
"Choke" - Beavis must save Butt-head from choking on some chicken.
"Killing Time" - the boys try to pass the time until a good show comes on TV.
"Safe House" - the boys allow Todd to use their house as a hideout.
"Dude, A Reward" - after finding a camera, the boys become shutterbugs.
"Walkathon" - the boys are forced to fulfill their walkathon pledge to Daria.
"Temporary Insanity" - the boys get temp jobs.
"Tainted Meat" - the boys contaminate the food at Burger World in a nasty manner.
"Dream On" - while sleeping, the boys have some vivid dreams.
"Beaverly Buttbillies" - while looking for oil, the boys hit a sewer line.

The DVD:
The first thing you notice about this new DVD presentation of Beavis and Butt-head is how disconcerting and incomplete the show feels without the music video segments. For years now, fans and the fanatics have argued over the viability of a B&B set without the accompanying commentary segments. Part of the fun of the show was the scenes where the boys played couch-bound critics to a seemingly endless MTV vault of visuals. Our sophomoric duo helped launch the careers of bands like White Zombie (who had ever heard of "Thunder Kiss '65" before Beavis and Butt-head supported the band's guitar assault version of a b-movie) and sunk the standing of several, so-called "cool" combos in the process.

For most, the videos were an integral part of the Beavis and Butt-head dynamic. Part of what Judge was making jokes about in the show was the music video as viable and relevant music format. Dressing down these corporate commercials was instrumental to the series reasoning and success, and without them, the episodes feel like exactly what they are - vignettes meant to fill the void between videos. So the bad news here is that the clips are not proffered as part of an episodic or single installment nature of the series. They are only offered as part of the bonus DVD, and there are only 11 of them in total. When you watch a short- say the completely hilarious "No Laughing" or the equally insane "Rabies Scare" - the sudden stops and starts cause the show to loose its rhythm, and one of the reasons for its existence. So instead of being an opportunity to revisit a long forgotten classic, we get a new, decidedly different version of Beavis and Butt-head to consider. The result is a show that now feels random, reaching and occasionally repetitive.

In addition, when played out of sequence, not in complete season sets, some of the context is missing. Indeed, when our hopelessly homely hero says "Come to Butt-head" the reason appears obvious, but any previous meaning is more or less lost. Jokes about the word "homeowners" fall flat. Equally, Cornholio's arrival is like a lob into left field instead of a possible progression of the Beavis character. While it may not seem fair to lament a box set for not providing a completely linear look at a series - it happens all the time - it does destroy some of what made Beavis and Butt-head so sensational. In combination with the lack of those necessary video breaks, this compendium starts out with two strikes against it.

Thankfully, the show is so good it survives these DVD missteps. Disc 1 is larded with laugh out loud moments: the boys trying their best not to giggle during sex education class; Anderson's dog covered in its own sick, soon to carry some of Beavis and Butt-head's bile as well; the boys masturbation-based reading of a Rorschach test; the crazy doctor who loves giving rabies shots in the solar plexus; the boys wanting "to hear butt" as part of their phone sex scenarios; Beavis in glasses; their school girl 'crush' on Todd. Judge is also careful to keep the show from sinking completely into the juvenile and toilet-based. When Mr. Anderson gets lost in a local home improvement store, the consumerism comedy target is clearly established and humorously hit. Mr. Buzzcut's bewildering drill sergeant meets driller killer classroom persona, which along with Principal McVicker's nervous twicking exemplified the educational system perfectly. Not everything here is a dick or dumbass joke. There are other elements of insightful wit in this otherwise witless show.

Disc 2 is no different. Nothing can beat the boys undermining a lie detector test (in "Liar, Liar"), accusing an etiquette instructor of bad touches (the David Spade guest starring "Manners Suck") the sight of the gawky goofs as kindergarten students ("Held Back") or the totally disgusting way in which Beavis befouls the burgers (in "Tainted Meat"). There are some decidedly dull installments as well. "Teen Talk" is just a strange set-up for a sex gag, "Generation in Crisis" is bad cinematic lampooning, and on Disc 1, "Most Wanted" is about as one-note and dimensionless as the show ever got. But for the most part, what we get here are smart sketches of teen angst flecked with feces, farts and flesh-furters. Even without the videos, Beavis and Butt-head is a fun - and funny - show.

The Video:
Though there are other issues with the set and its presentation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way MTV and Paramount treat the technical aspects of this release. Beavis and Butt-head looks absolutely pristine in its colorful and vibrant 1.33:1 full frame transfer. Details are rich and contrasts are crisp. According to the liner notes, Judge has gone back and altered some of the episodes, creating what he calls "director's cuts" for several. This does not necessarily mean MORE material (though we do get some random violence and a scene of the boys sniffing paint thinner). Indeed, some shows suffer from "The Ren and Stimpy" syndrome, in which controversial material that was edited out a long time ago and now appears mysteriously "lost".

The Audio:
Without the music videos, there really is no major issue with the Dolby Digital Stereo sound. There are modulation problems, however, with certain episodes appearing substantially louder than others in the set. This critic found himself having to fiddle with the volume control several times as the discs played, dealing with irritating elements like overblown sound effects and occasional drop-off in overall episode levels.

The Extras:
In addressing the issue of added content, one faces a daunting dilemma. The 11 music videos offered used to be part of the series itself, so are they REALLY extras??? And does a grand total of about 2% of the overall musical mini-movie content from the series really count as something substantive??? True, we are treated to a great documentary on the making of the show (entitled "Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-head") but it is only the FIRST installment of a three part series. So we don't get the whole story, just a 30 minute snippet. The painfully awkward Thanksgiving Special with Kurt Loder is presented, but since all we get are the random segments with B&B, the impression one is left with is of a failed experiment in cross promotion and programming. Between the montages (including a clever collection of favorite 'ass' based insults) and the Video Music Awards appearances (the only interesting one featuring David Letterman) we don't get a lot of real breathtaking bonus material.

So, are the extras worth your time? The answer is still a solid "Yes". The number of videos may be minimal, but what's here is prime B&B balderdash. Their Pantera and Catherine Wheel crackups are great. The documentary about the making of the show is also incredibly interesting. To see how Judge got his start, the fascinating way focus groups reacted to the show, and the sudden shock of being on the air five nights a week, make for remarkable behind the scenes insight. Everything else here is pretty perfunctory, reminiscent of collecting up stray bits and elements for an increase in quantity only. There are no commentaries on the episodes, no interviews with individuals outside the show. Here's hoping that Volumes 2 and 3 are weightier when it comes to music promos and historical context.

Final Thoughts:
If losing the music videos means that much to you, if realizing that some fans (and their accompanying websites) are taking meticulous pains to point out the places where Paramount has "edited", or failed to deliver full and complete episodes of the show, if you simply cannot live without hearing Beavis shout "FIRE, FIRE, FIRE" in his hilarious hyperactive manner, then Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 1, may not be for you. But if you can cast those concerns aside and enjoy the show for what it was - an incredibly funny look at the loser lives of two lost adolescents, then there is nothing but pure comic gold to be found here. All presentational flaws aside, this DVD set is Highly Recommended.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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