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As an early-90s adolescent male, I was, unsurprisingly, a huge fan of Beavis and Butt-Head. But it's only now, more than a decade later, that I truly understand and appreciate its greatness.


I thought Beavis and Butt-Head were cool guys. Not in an emulating "let's light things on fire" sort of way, but I would have gladly been their spineless lackey. What I now see as a twentysomething is that Beavis and Butt-Head are not cool, and the show is actually satirizing and mocking the behavior of out-of-control hyperactive 14- and 15-year-olds who think they're hot stuff for get high on paint thinner fumes and making sexually-slanted jokes about their neighbor's cat.


Series creator Mike Judge, apparently on a mission to set right all wrongs surrounding the DVD releases of his material, has hand-picked Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection Volume 1 out of, as an accompanying note indicates, the portion of the series that wasn't, as Judge puts it, "embarrassing." There's two discs full of episodes, most of which clock in under ten minutes. They're culled from the life of the show and presented in vague chronological order, and 14 of them weren't on the previous Time Life compilations.


The episodes are described as "director's cuts," but it's an interesting definition: while pyromania and huffing have been restored, some of the more interesting lines have actually been expunged, like when the boys are sent back to grade school and Butt-Head announces that his cramped desk was "giving [him] a stiffy." Usually these cuts aren't enough to render the episode worthless, but a lot of the time what's left out is funny.


This collection is not complete, as some diehards have been pining for, but the average fan who watched the show when they were younger would be hard-pressed to complain too much about the selection. The highlights include the "No Laughing" episode, where the boys must stifle their snickering during "Sex Ed week" in class; "Rabies Scare," where a sadistic doctor gives Beavis (a.k.a. "Rod Munch") an unnecessary amount of injections after a dog bite; "Pipe of Doom," where Butt-Head is forced to consider the possibility of living out his days with his head caught in an industrial pipe; and, of course, Judge's favorite – and most everyone else's – "The Great Cornholio," where Beavis ingests an inhuman amount of candy and goes on a sugar-fueled odyssey through the halls of the school, requesting "TP for [his] bung-hole!"

No, it's not complete. But there aren't any egregious omissions either. If this is the only collection Judge will endorse, then I'm satisfied. Even though I have no idea what could possibly be included on The Mike Judge Collection Volume 2.




The biggest rub against previous B & B sets was the conspicuous absence of the video segments, which were often the most funny part of the show, especially on some of those "embarrassing" episodes Judge refers to. Obviously this becomes a thorny issue from a legal standpoint: is Motley Crue really going to give permission so the boys can rip apart "Dr. Feelgood" with lines like "The message is 'Vince Neil's a wuss'"? Probably not. We're left with a grab-bag of eight videos with artists ranging from Grim Reaper to the Beastie Boys to Pantera to the Catherine Wheel. By far the most amusing is the boys' viewing of Korn's "Blind," which they feel would be more entertaining if they were feeling light-headed. The ever-resourceful Beavis blows into his thumb and emerges as a dizzy aspiring rock critic: "What it has in groove, it lacks in originality…one is even reminded of Laurie Anderson when she wore curlers." There's also a pleasant appearance by Hum's "Stars" – anything that gets those guys some airplay is fine by me.

The other big extra is the "Taint of Greatness" documentary, which sheds some light on the series' journey from Spike and Mike's and Liquid Television to worldwide phenomenon. Judge is especially enlightening here, explaining once and for all why the boys laugh so damn much. It's because they hang out together so much that they've turned everything into an inside joke that only they share. He also tells some stories about the real-life equivalent of Tom Anderson, and how Daria was the only suggestion the network had for him that he agreed with.

"Taint of Greatness" is thorough in chronicling the show's evolution, even going so far as to include footage of the focus groups who saw "Frog Baseball" before MTV picked up the series. It also takes on the controversy surrounding the show. The boys were cured of pyromania after the show was blamed when a five-year-old boy burned down his house, killing his two-year-old sister who was inside. More than ten years later, Judge and co. still seem a little stunned by the whole thing, which is understandable, but it didn't stop them from having some fun with the show's opponents, particularly the senator who referred to the show as "Buffcoat and Beaver."

Final Score: 7.5/10

Issue Date: December 2 - 8, 2005
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