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Beavis and Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection
First Things First! - This collection simply compiles the three volumes of Beavis And Butt-Head cartoons that were released under The Mike Judge Collection banner in 2005 and throws in the anniversary edition of Beavis And Butt-Head Do America. If you've already got those, you'll find nothing new in this collection save for a nice gold box which houses the individually wrapped releases. The content and packaging, aside from that gold box, is completely identical to the individual releases of this material.
From 1993 through 1997, Beavis And Butt-Head was a staple of MTV programming which turned into an unlikely international phenomena. The foul mouthed fools' visage was plastered on everything from a Marvel Comics series to video games (the goal was to make it to the Gwar concert on time) to toys to cards to clothing. It was hard to escape these two dumb metal-heads, and for a while a lot of us suffered from overkill. A decade or so after the mania has died, re-evaluating the show finds that there's a whole lot more to it than simply a blonde kid named Beavis and a brown haired kid named Butt-Head sitting around watching TV. Granted, that's a big part of the show but the series is actually ripe with some truly clever social satire much of which was likely lost on its primarily teenage audience when it first aired.
The brainchild of Mike Judge (who has since gone on to create the long running King Of The Hill show for Fox), the series followed the exploits of the two guys as they went to school, watched TV, and more or less just got into trouble. It was full of toilet humor and really bad, low brow jokes but the humor also worked on a more subversive level in that it was almost holding a mirror up at many of the people who enjoyed it. Beavis and Butt-Head were, like the legions of fans tuning in to MTV to watch it, television junkies. They were lazy, they couldn't be bothered to think for themselves, and they didn't care about much outside of their own small little world and TV was a large part of the reason that they were the way they were. Of course, a few fart jokes here and there couldn't hurt anything and much of the low brow material was admittedly quite funny but to simply dismiss the show as nothing more than butt and poop jokes isn't quite giving it the credit that its due.
Additionally, the series was also quite influential. For better or worse it went on to have an impact on modern animation both in terms of content and in terms of how it looked. The visuals were suitably primitive looking, and they almost felt like quickly done doodles compared to some of the better animation out there but it fit the tone of the series well. One need only take a look at Comedy Central's South Park for the best and most famous example of how this primitive design has trickled down, but there are others out there such as the Canadian Cartoon Network's Kevin Spencer and even Family Guy to a certain extent.
As was mentioned earlier, this collection compiles what has already been available for a while now and changes nothing – what this means is that the episodes that were presented as 'director's cuts' then are presented the same way here and what that means, in short, is that they're trimmed. Apparently this was Mike Judge's call and seeing as it is his material there's probably not much that can be done about it but it is a shame that the people behind these sets chose not to give the fans what they wanted the way that they first fell in love with it. The trims are minor, but they're there and that's a shame.
It should also be noted that even though there is a lot of material here, this is not a complete run of the show. There are episodes missing and again, it comes down to Judge's decision not to release them. Likewise, there are a lot of the music videos missing. This is a little more understandable as it is most certainly a rights issue nightmare but regardless, in a happy-happy dream world it would have been nice to see all of this material included in one big old fancy-schmancy set. Crying over spilt milk will get us nowhere, however, and plenty of fans are happy with what this set offers, speaking of which, here are the episodes contained in the set...
Beavis And Butt-Head – The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 1 contains the following episodes in the following order:
Lawn And Garden
Washing The Dog
They're Coming To Take Me Away, Huh Huh
Late Night With Butt-Head
The Final Judgment Of Beavis
Butt Is It Art?
Disc Two: Mr. Anderson's Balls
The Pipe of Doom
Generation In Crisis
Beavis and Butt-Head Vs. The Vending Machine
The Great Cornholio
Dude, A Reward
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 2 contains the following episodes in the following order:
Stewart Moves Away
Top O' The Mountain
What's The Deal
Wet Behind The Rears
Here Comes The Bride's Butt
History Of Women
Beavis, Can You Spare A Dime?
Bang The Drum Slowly, Dumb Ass
Another Friday Night
Feel A Cop
Gang Of Two
Stewart Is Missing
Bungholio: Lord Of The Harvest
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 3 contains the following episodes in the following order:
A Very Special Episode
Just For Girls
Vaya Con Cornholio
Take A Lap
It's A Miserable Life
A Great Day
Dumb Asses Anonymous
Bride Of Butt-Head
The Miracle That Is Beavis
Die Fly, Die!
Work Is Death
Leave It To Beavis
Beavis And Butt-Head Are Dead
It's a shame that Judge didn't see fit to release the whole enchilada onto DVD for fans but what we've got here really is, for the most part, the cream of the Beavis and Butt-Head crop. Most of the classic moments from the episodes are here (there are too many music videos missing to list) and the material does hold up fairly well even if changes in the climate of pop culture over the last decade or so have taken some of the bite out of their routine.
Beavis And Butt-Head Do America (10th Anniversary Edition):
So with the show a success, it made sense for a feature length movie spin off to happen, and happen it did with the release of Beavis And Butt-Head Do America. At the time of the film's release a lot of fans were wondering if Judge and his team would be able to make a series of dumb, short gags work as a ninety-minute feature but those fears were put to rest once the movie hit theaters as it really did do a good job of capturing what made the TV show so funny while at the same time adding some character development and telling a reasonably interesting story as well.
The story starts when Beavis and Butt-Head find that their beloved television set has been stolen right out from under them. Well aware that a life without TV is not a life worth living, the two decide to remedy their situation by swiping a replacement set from school, but that doesn't work. They switch to plan B and attempt to lift one from a nearby fleabag motel but before they can make that happen, they meet up with a guy named Muddy Grimes (voiced by Bruce Willis). Muddy tells him that he's waiting to meet the two men he's hired to "do" his wife and our two heroes, thinking that he means "do" in the Biblical sense, claim to be those two guys. Grimes doesn't realize who Beavis and Butt-Head are and Beavis and Butt-Head don't realize that they've just accepted a job to kill a woman, so Grimes gives them her picture and ships them off to Las Vegas, the city of sin, to take care of his marital problems once and for all.
Along the way to their destination they of course meet a strange cast of characters from various places and at various times. They get into trouble as often as you'd expect and Cornholio rears his ugly head. But the gist of the story is that they're off to Vegas to "do" Muddy's wife and it's best to leave the synopsis at that for fear of spoiling it for those who haven't seen the movie yet – it's not good to give away all the good jokes!
How the filmmaker's made the short story format work as a long story was to essentially string together a bunch of different set pieces in between resolving the case of the missing TV – in essence, this film is the same as the shorts as it's pretty much just a bunch of the shorts playing out in sequence. It works and it works well and its to their credit that the writers knew to stick within the confines that Beavis and Butt-Head need to be effective. They also didn't soften or change up the style of humor that earned them their popularity in the first place either, nor did the really crank it up and go for an R-rating as the South Park guys did (though it worked there). The characters and the tone of the show remains pure in the feature film version and that's what was important to ensuring that it would be a successful project.
With that said, there are a few little quirks in the feature version that differentiate it from its cable TV counterpart, primarily in the look of the film. The style of animation that everyone knows from the television version is given a bit of an upgrade here – it's still very recognizable as Beavis And Butt-Head but things look a little cleaner and a little slicker. The animation team was also allowed to experiment a little more here which is obvious in a few stand out moments from the film like the desert trip scene and the finale of the movie.
The humor holds up well and the characters are still funny. Beavis And Butt-Head Do America will please existing fans of the series and probably earn the duo a few new ones along the way.The DVD
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vols. 1 - 3: The MTV episodes are all presented in their original fullframe aspect ratios, which is as it should be. For the most part these episodes look decent enough, but sadly the material hasn't been flagged for progressive scan playback so depending on how your hardware is set up you may or may not notice some moderate trailing and saw tooth artifacts during movement. If you can get past that, however, things look decent. There's not much print damage though there is some grain. Color reproduction looks pretty decent and the cartoons looks as good here as they did when they were first broadcast, if not a little sharper.
Beavis And Butt-Head Do America: The feature film in the collection is presented in its original 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio and the transfer is enhanced for anamorphic playback and properly flagged for progressive scan set ups. Aside from some mild film grain in a few spots the picture is quite clean and quite clear without anything more than the most minute instances of print damage showing up. Color reproduction is strong and clear and aside from some mild line shimmering there aren't any problems with the transfer.Sound:
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vols. 1 - 3: The episodes hit DVD in a pretty strong Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track that makes good use of the left and right channels by way of some keen moments of separation and which presents things well. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion and the levels are well balanced leaving little room for complaints save for the fact that there aren't any alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captions provided.
Beavis And Butt-Head Do America: Audio options are available in an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix or an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. English closed captions and subtitles are available here for the feature only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go on this release as it adds a lot of fun surround use to the movie that bring some of the more action oriented scenes to life quite nicely. Dialogue is crisp without any hiss or distortion and bass response is tight and lively.Extras:
The three Mike Judge Collections contain only their respective episodes on the first two discs and aside from menus and episode selection options, those first two discs in each set are barebones. Thankfully, each set does include a third disc full of extra features…
Beavis And Butt-Head – The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 1:
This disc starts off with the following music videos featuring commentary from Beavis and Butt-Head. These are only clips, not the full videos, but these make up some of the funniest moments in the history of the show and it's great to see them here after so long. Not all the videos that they riffed on are here, but here's what you do get to see:
Matthew Sweet – Super-Deformed
Pantera - This Love
Moist - Push
Deus - Suds And Soda
Grim Reaper - Fear No Evil
Monster Magnet - Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Korn - Blind
Catherine Wheel - Way Down
Beastie Boys - Pass the Mic
Wilco - Box Full of Letters
Hum – Stars
Up next is a thirty-minute documentary on the origins of the show entitled Taint Of Greatness: The Journey Of Beavis And Butt-Heat Part 1 which features some interviews with Mike Judge and some oddball footage of a few focus groups and their involvement in getting the show on the air in the format that it was shown in. There are also some interviews with MTV bigwigs, a few members of the staff who worked on the show, and all through the piece we're treated to not only an interesting look at how the show was put together but also the effect that it had on the general public once it took off.
From there we get the chance to check out some random clips from various guest appearances that Beavis and Butt-Head made and some promotional spots for the show. The two appearances that they made on the MTV Video Music Awards are here as is the spot where they sat beside David Letterman in the audience. The MTV Thanksgiving Special segment is here and we get to see the pair goofing off with Kurt Loder. There's also a strange montage that assembles clips from every time the guys hit each other.
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 2:
Once again, a selection of videos are included. Here's what you'll find:
The Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Seaweed - Kid Candy
Pantera - I'm Broken
Mercyful Fate - The Bellwitch
Cumpulsion – Delivery
Madonna – Secret
Six Finger Satellite - Parlor Games
Pizzicato 5 - Twiggy, Twiggy
Rush - Stick It Out
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
Extreme - Hole Hearted
Helium - Pat's Trick
MC 900 Ft. Jesus - If I Only Had a Brain
Taint Of Greatness: The Journey Of Beavis And Butt-Heat Part 2 is up next, and it picks up where the first part left off. At roughly twenty-minutes in length it is essentially more of the same in that we hear from Judge and his team again but this time around we also hear from Snoop Dog and Trey Parker, both of whom talk about the influence that Beavis And Butt-Head had on them. As with the first part it's pretty amusing and actually pretty interesting – fans of the series will want to take the time to check this out.
In the Special Appearances section we find appearances from a few different places such as the Butt-Bowl Clip, the Calvin and Klein commercial parodies, and more. Snoop Dog co-hosts the Moron-O-Thon with the guys and there's also a brief unused clip from VH1's I Love The 90s included in here where Trey Parker talks about how much he loved the show. A few TV promo spots and two more clip montages round out the extras on this disc.
Beavis And Butt-Head - The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 3:
If you guessed that the third disc in the third set would start off with more great videos, you'd be right! Here's what you'll get to watch along with Beavis and Butt-Head:
Stakka Bo - Here We Go
Crowbar - Existence Is Punishment
Salt 'N Pepa - Whatta Man
Poison - I Want Action
2 Unlimited - Get Ready For This
Tripping Daisy - I Got A Girl
Jesus Lizard – Glamorous
Sonic Youth - Dirty Boots
Soundgarden – Spoonman
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Dang
PJ Harvey - Down By The Water
Alice Cooper - Teenage Frankenstein
The Toadies - Possum Kingdom
Rollins Band – Liar
Paul Broucek - Hollywood Halloween
Of course, once you're done with the music videos be sure to take the time to check out the twenty-four minute Taint Of Greatness: The Journey Of Beavis And Butt-Head Part III as it does a fine job of wrapping up the history of the series. At the same time it also shamelessly shills for the (at the time) upcoming movie, which does take away from things a bit. Regardless, Judge and company are here once again and their comments on the last portion of episodes are amusing and insightful and it is effective in closing the book on the history of the show.
This disc also features a Special Appearances section, just as the other two did. With roughly thirty-five minutes worth of material here we see MTV Video Awards clips such as the 'letters to Santa Butt-Head' bit and the Yule Log bits, as well as the Holiday Stew bits and an interview with Chris Connelly.
Rounding out the features on this disc is the original 1992 short, Frog Baseball, which runs for just over two-minutes. Presented here uncut, this is the one that brought the cartoon to the attention of those who turned it into the phenomena that it eventually became so even if it isn't the funniest episode, it's historically important. There are also three promo spots for the show, and a few previews for other MTV DVD products.
Beavis And Butt-Head Do America:
First up in terms of extra features for Beavis And Butt-Head Do America is a full-length commentary track with creator/director Mike Judge who is joined by animation director Yvette Kaplan. Fans who were irked that Judge didn't provide any commentaries for the episodes can rest a little easier now as here he does provide a lot of good information and trivia about the film and its characters. They talk about some of the ideas that lead to the feature, other ideas that were tossed about and not used, casting some of the voices, what works and what doesn't work and generally just give a well paced and interesting examination of the movie.
The first of two featurettes included on the disc is the twenty-two minute The Big Picture piece which is essentially a making of documentary. Throughout this piece there are interviews with Judge and a few others who were involved in making the movie as well as plenty of clips that accentuate what they're talking about and illustrate their points. There's also some interesting footage of the voice actors at work here and discussion of a live action version of the movie that is work checking out for curiosity value. The second featurette is the ten-minute We're Gonna Score! segment which is an interesting piece about the score that was created for the movie and the various people involved in seeing it through.
Rounding out the extra features are a montage of assault clips called The Smack Down, 3 celebrity interview clips featuring Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly and Snoop Dogg, and a large collection of trailers and television spots that were used to promote the theatrical release of the film. Animated menus and chapter stops for the feature are also provided.Final Thoughts:
If you've already got the individual releases compiled in this set, there's absolutely no good reason to bother with this collection. That being said, if you are a fans of the series and you don't already own these, Beavis And Butt-Head – The Mike Judge Collection comes recommended. Yes, there's material missing and some episodes are edited – this is completely annoying – but for the time being this is probably the best that fans are going to get and the bonus materials definitely add some value to the package as a whole.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.