TV

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Heh, heh... heh: Beavis and Butt-head have the last laugh

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As TV comebacks go, this probably doesn't rank as one that most folks expected, needed or even wanted.

But now that they've returned, it's a weird, slightly unsettling kind of fun to admit that it's sort of nice to have Beavis and Butt-head back.

MTV's dim-witted duo of cement-headed metalheads, who were pilloried by many for being contributors to the decline of civilization during the final gloaming moments of the 20th century, have been resurrected by creator Mike Judge and re-installed as the no-longer-music-focused cable network's most pointedly amusing commentators.

Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-head, which premiered last week, airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on MTV. In addition to playing out their own demented brand of cartoon nonsense in brief, nothing-short-of-stupid storylines, they've been handed the fish-in-a-barrel task of poking fun at the other titles and characters (Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant and the like) that have taken up residence in MTV's lineup since B&B snickered off into the sunset a dozen or so years ago.

Judge, who followed his Beavis and Butt-head success with an impressive 13-season run of King of the Hill on Fox, said he didn't hesitate even slightly when MTV's brass approached him last year about reviving the headbanging tandem.

"King of the Hill was done, and I just thought, 'Who am I to turn this down?'" Judge said last summer during MTV's portion of the U.S. networks' semi-annual press tour in Los Angeles. "I really like doing it. I've been through development on animated shows (and) I've seen a lot of animated shows getting developed, and I just started thinking that I had a couple of pretty good characters there, (so) maybe I should just do it while I still can.

"I think it still works; it feels like it does. I also feel like I'm a better director now than I was back then, and we have better resources and I've met a lot of really great writers that I've worked with."

If last week's debut is any indication of what lies ahead in the series' 12 new episodes, Beavis and Butt-head remain as dull-brained in their antics and as sharp-witted in their commentaries as ever.

The pair's return included a riff on the Twilight franchise in which they decided their best chance to score with chicks was to become a werewolf or vampire like the ones in those movies that make young girls swoon. After hearing that the transformation comes as a result of being bitten by one of those creatures, Beavis and Butt-head get themselves chomped on by a fur-faced menace that turns out to be a disease-riddled homeless guy; instead of becoming chick-magnet werewolves, they turn into hepatitis-addled, comatose invalids.

Equally amusing were B&B's voiced-over comments about footage from other MTV shows, particularly Jersey Shore. We all know that Snooki, J-Woww, The Situation et al. are an unrelenting waste of pop-culture space, but there's something about the way the newly reconstituted cartoon-dunce duo skewers them that feels particularly satisfying. It's probably not something that anyone would have imagined hearing during their first tour of TV duty, but considering some of the other assaults on good taste that are happening on the tube these days, it might just be that MTV -- and perhaps even television in general -- needs Beavis and Butt-head.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 3, 2011 E7

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