Animation · Television

Quick thoughts on Beavis & Butt-head and Good Vibes

Every few years, MTV rolls out an animation block; treating the medium like a fad – hoping against hope that maybe this time, the fad will catch on. Normally I wouldn’t care since I’ve stopped caring about that since somewhere around 1999. (Rightfully so – anyone over the age of 25 should stop caring about and watching MTV.) However, the reason why I relearned where that channel exists on my cable provider’s service is due to the return of Mike Judge‘s two prodigal sons, Beavis and Butt-Head.

My initial reaction to the revival was poor. I was disappointed. B&B were the voices of Generation X (don’t worry Billy Idol, I don’t mean the punk band). I didn’t want to see two of the most iconic characters of the 1990’s transported into 2011. But after watching the first two episodes of the same old, new Beavis and Butt-Head, I have made a complete reversal. In fact, I now believe these two were initially ahead of their time. These two idiots were meant to be the epitome of the devolving Idiocracy that we Americans live in today (those of you reading this in the far more enlightened and educated country of Kyrgyzstan, consider yourself lucky.) Their personalities are far more easily believable if you imagine them watching MTV programs such as “16 and Pregnant” and “Jersey Shore” instead of watching music videos of White Zombie and the Beastie Boys. By maintaining a status quo, Mike Judge has continued the tradition of timelessness in which comic characters never age – e.g.: Archie Andrews, Charlie Brown, Dagwood Bumstead, Beetle Bailey, Bart Simpson, etc.. It is the correct decision. Any changes in the show in terms of character design, wardrobe, or animation styles would have been disastrous.

I have a bad habit of using “Your Mileage May Vary” as a convenient cop-out, but B&B really are the poster children of this trope. You either love them, or you hate them. You get the humor, or you don’t. There is no middle ground. The first two episodes of the 2011 version picks up right where the series left off when their initial run ended in 1997. So any critique, review, or grade of the show now that differs from the 1990’s incarnation is wholly on the critic, and not the show. Since I had no blog in 1997, you’ll have to take my word that my grade has remained consistent. (Or don’t, it’s not like you have to believe everything you read on the web.) The show still has moments of greatness, yet still has moments of falling completely flat. The show is at its best when the humor is subversive. However, there are too many episodes consisting of just one-joke repeated over and over. My grade then and now = (an alliteratively appropriate) B.

Following our dimwitted duo is David Gordon Green‘s “Good Vibes.” Green is best known as the director of “Pineapple Express,” so it’s no surprise that we have a bong full of drug-based and sophomoric humor here. I watched the trailer multiple times, as well as the first two episodes. My first impression was that this show was too good for MTV, and should’ve been on Comedy Central or Adult Swim. Upon further review, I realize that this show is pretty much as So-Cal version of Superbad. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m just surprised no one else has picked up on it yet. It is a good premise for an animated show, and there is potential for comedic and character growth for this series. The first two episodes have done a good job at establishing the setting and the main cast of characters. The real test begins after its initial 12 episode first season (assuming that there will be a second season). However, for a show that has so much risqué comedy, the show has been a bit too predictable. I reserve the right to change my grade at the end of its run. But for now, my grade = B-.

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