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Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection
The only problem is that it's not actually ‘complete'.
This shouldn't be news to anyone who's actually followed the DVD release pattern for the show, but the original, uncut versions of each episode aren't intact. The short animation segments are, sure, but Beavis and Butt-head had been much more than that. Breaks between each of the mini-sodes featured the dimwitted teens on their couch, harpooning each and every video they saw without prejudice. Despite unapologetically wearing AC/DC and Megadeth shirts at all times, one could have expected Judge to use his show as a platform to oust phony, corporate made music, but no such bias was ever brought to light, as Beavis and Butt-head even flambéed the likes of Pantera and Metallica. As a result, virtually anyone could tune in to these chuckling dolts without fear of having their musical tastes maliciously singled out. Unfortunately, these video segments aren't available in this, nor any other collected run of the show. I understand the reason behind this; it's expensive for studios to obtain licensing for redistribution. That said, considering Beavis and Butt-head were a huge deal for MTV - which back in the day meant ‘Music Television', a foreign concept in recent times - it's a shame to see the show basically neutered. The three included volumes of classic B&B are still fantastic, don't get me wrong, but one can't help but feel that something's missing.
Also included is the feature length film, Beavis and Butt-head Do America, which had released at the height of the show's popularity. Plenty of people undoubtedly groaned at the idea of a relatively thin program getting stretched to 81 minutes, but it fared quite well at the box office and even scored decently amongst reviewers. Roger Ebert had even enjoyed his romp through dumb-ville, and as often as he and his partner, Gene Siskel, had disagreed on film recommendations, they felt this effort worthy of the coveted ‘two thumbs up'. The movie also resonated with fans, as the film kept as close to the show's formula as humanly possible. All the satirical, offensive humor you'd expect from the teens is present, and without any real spit and shine to their dialogue or personalities. Even the animation style was kept in-line with the show… well, mostly. There wasn't as much ‘shaky line' effect, but the core style was 100% accounted for.
But then, like most things that blow up to such lengths, Beavis and Butt-head had faded into obscurity, and years went by.
But the fart-knocking duo came back to MTV. The network no longer really played music, though, so that was something the show had to work around.
And it seemingly said, "No music videos? Fine."
Too lazy to change the channel after so much time, Beavis and Butt-head picked apart the programming of the very network they were allowed to air on. And really, there's no other station on television that could have been a better candidate, what with those muscle-dummied losers from Jersey Shore filling up MTV's time slots around the clock. Oh, and those teen pregnancy shows that ruin the lives of young, struggling families; there's that, too. So, that was their new bag. Cheap to produce ‘reality television' shows had become the target, because today's society is too bored, lazy and stupid to get up and change the channel… and that's where Beavis and Butt-head come in. They represent the lost and hopeless faction of viewers at home that feed ratings to these horrendous shows and keep them afloat, and when confronted with such programming, do what they do best: Rip all that ‘quality' programming to shreds. Bummed they switched their focus a bit? Don't be. They still pick apart musical acts from time to time, including Katy Perry and her song ‘Fireworks'. But as far as their newfound dedication to trashing reality shows, it doesn't make Beavis and Butt-head feel as if it's changed one bit. In fact, I highly prefer this over the music stuff, and the fourth volume of Beavis and Butt-head is probably my favorite part of this collection.
Four retail volumes and a movie inside a single case. That's a lot of Beavis and Butt-head.
But even with all this content taken into consideration, one may still feel compelled to complain about what's missing, and I can certainly empathize. I know if I had purchased each individual volume as they had been released years ago, I'd probably feel ripped off… but this boxed set is sitting on retailer shelves for no more than $30, and at such a low price point, I feel that has to be taken into consideration. So much show for so little dough, this is one hell of a bargain. Yes, it'd be nice if someone put out a massive boxed set with the missing content, and copies of both the film and the fourth volume on Blu-ray, as they should be. Those things aside, this set wasn't released to give the fans something to admire, but to move an old product at a price that may pick up some impulse sales. And at that rock bottom price, you're getting all the DVD's that had been previously released. With lack of completeness aside, it's hard to argue that people aren't getting what they'd be paying for. The only real downside to such a ‘you probably already own this if you're a fan' kind of boxed set, is that it doesn't really entice newcomers to pick this up and check out what put Mike Judge on the map. It's a shame, too, because I feel the satirical take on teens still applies today… just maybe with a few more handheld devices and a change of clothes.
Volumes 1-4 are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and this probably goes without saying, but they're not created equally. Volumes 1-3 stem from the original run of the show, and have a tendency to look a tad muted when compared to the newer episodes which were created in modern years and included in Volume 4. The animation looks clean, however, so the only real complaint I have about the old episodes is that they show a bit more interlacing than future episodes. In overall contrast, Volume 4 has a bit more ‘pop', the animation certainly looks a bit better produced, and interlacing doesn't seem to rear an ugly head.
Beavis and Butt-head Do America is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is mostly devoid of flaw. Colors, black levels and contrast are both strong, and the print used for the transfer is pretty much spotless. You might notice the typical anomalies when watching DVD on an HD display (as I assume most would be nowadays), but there's nothing of real concern to report.
Volumes 1-3 come equipped with serviceable, albeit expected stereo tracks. Dialogue is certainly clean and prioritized over anything happening in the show (which isn't usually much as far as wowing the sense is concerned), but there's a bit of flatness in what I heard. I fully expected as much for this particular show, however.
Volume 4 and Beavis and Butt-head come equipped with 5.1 sound, however. The television episodes have a bit more vibrancy than the old episodes, but the surround channels are pretty much wasted space on the disc. So much of the show is prioritized to be front heavy, that it would have done just well in standard stereo. The film, on the other hand, features some pretty fantastic music and action, and it all comes to life in a big way.
All in all, the audio presentations in this set are about what one would expect… and that's a good thing. It's the unexpected surprises we want to avoid, and this set avoids such pitfalls.
For a breakdown of supplements, please take a look at DVDTalk's prior reviews:
Beavis and Butt-head The Mike Judge Collection
Beavis and Butt-head Volume 4
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
You know, it's easy to be critical of all the problems behind calling this a ‘complete collection', but considering this can be picked up in retail stores for $30 or less, those concerns immediately fade into the ether. The included content is pretty fantastic, and at this price point, anyone with even a minor interest in Beavis and Butt-head should really consider adding this to their collection. Still, it's really difficult for me to offer a solid recommendation. I doubt this set has the ability to draw any new fans, but for those that may be sitting on the fence - undoubtedly wondering if the show will come off as a product of its time like an old Nirvana video - I'd encourage you to pick this up. Trends and styles may have changed over the years, but the real meat of Beavis and Butt-head stems from its satirical take on youth, which is still as relevant as it ever was. If you're already a fan, you've likely picked up whatever Beavis and Butt-head DVD's you need in your life, and no additional content has been provided here to entice you, so I'd recommend you folks hold on to what you have. After all is said and done, this set comes recommended.
-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check Bytesizeimpressions.com for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!