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"Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head": Volume 4 Blu-ray Review

Beavis and Butt-Head Volume 4 Blu-ray cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume Four (2011)
Show & Blu-ray Details

Creator: Mike Judge / Executive Producers: Mike Judge, John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky, Michael Rotenberg, Tom Lassally, Yvette Kaplan

Writers: John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky, Sivert Glarum, Michael Jamin, Andy Rheingold, Scott Sonneborn, Kristofor Brown, DJ Javerbaum, Franklin Hardy, Shane Kosakowski, Boyce Bugliari, Jamie McLoughlin, Greg Grabianski, Joe Stillman, Bo Weinberg, Jeff Goldstone / Directors: Ilya Skorupsky, Ted Stearn, Tony Kluck, Geoffrey Johnson, Bernard Derriman, Jeffrey Hunter

Regular Voice Cast: Mike Judge (Beavis, Butt-Head, Mr. David Van Driessen, Burger World Manager, Coach Bradley Buzzcut, Principal McVicker, Hamid, Reporter, Fat Old Man, Old Woman, Greeter, Truck Radio Voice, Bad-Ass Guy, Clark Cobb, Spanish Teacher, Tom Anderson, Victoria's Dad, Burger World Customer, Cop #2, Husband, Caller #1)

Guest Voice Cast: Lori Nasso (Teacher, Megan, Lawyer, Elevator Woman, Others), Thomas Middleditch (Various), Monica Keena (Teacher, Massage Client, Others), Sam Johnson (Various), Toby Huss (Henry, Todd Ianuzzi, Others), David Koechner (Tech Support Supervisor, Tim, Fireman, Cop, Others, Mal Security Guard, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Homeless Guy, Others), David Herman (Gary, Copy Machine Repairman, Karate Instructor, Chinese Masseur, Police Officer, Others), Pamela Adlon (Crystal, Sapphire, Post Office Worker, School Therapist, Others), Sam Macaroni (Steven, News Anchor, Others), John Ales (Teacher, Others), Chris Phillips (Car Dealership Owner, Others), Laraine Newman (Biology Teacher), Peyton Reed, Steve Gunderson (Judge, Others), Randall Kaplan, Danny Cochran, Kristofor Brown (Doctor, Security Guard), Ashley Gardner, Sage Thalia Gerloff, Adam Welsh (Stewart Stevenson), Beardyman, Jerry Collins, Sue Perrotto, Guy Maxtone-Graham

Running Time: 252 Minutes (12 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

1.33:1 Pillarboxed (with Windowboxed Clips) / 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Season 8 Airdates: October 27, 2011 - December 29, 2011
DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.99 SRP), Instant Video, and HD Instant Video

Buy Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video HD Instant Video

"Beavis and Butt-Head" is about as quintessential to 1990s pop culture as anything. MTV's generation-defining cartoon had its heyday, then vanished, seemingly no more likely to experience a revival than pogs, Nirvana, and Sega Genesis.
The show signed off in 1997, not long after a hit theatrical release. Both the makers and public quickly moved on to other things. Creator, executive producer, and lead voice actor Mike Judge had a new show on network television almost a full year before the end of "Beavis" made it to air. Improbably, "King of the Hill" would run longer than almost any other primetime show, excluding of course its fellow Sunday night Fox staple "The Simpsons."

The viewing public had no shortage of irreverent, satirical animation in Beavis and Butt-Head's absence. Besides "King" and "Simpsons", there was Comedy Central's "South Park", late night's Adult Swim block, and a growing supply of popular and cult Fox cartoons, from Matt Groening's "Futurama" to the ever-expanding universe of Seth MacFarlane that began with "Family Guy."

Meanwhile, Judge seemed unlikely to look back to his breakthrough creation. On the side of "King of the Hill", he broke into live-action film with 1999's Office Space. An underperformer in theaters, it would become one of the best known, most quoted, and most beloved comedies of its time on home video. To a smaller degree, his overdue follow-up, 2006's 26th century satire Idiocracy, performed similarly, barely getting released in theaters but becoming popular enough as a virtually direct-to-video to inspire merchandise and GIFs.

Believing they've survived the "apocaclypse", Beavis and Butt-Head live it up with stolen convenience store snack foods and sunglasses.

It wasn't merely Judge's career path that made a return to his roots unlikely. Things with MTV had ended on something of a sour note, compounded by the fact that Judge exerted his power to ground a pressed and fully produced DVD compilation of "Beavis and Butt-Head" just prior to its scheduled release. When creator-approved DVDs eventually came, they were quite limited and oddly edited, revealing Judge to be less than completely proud of the series.

Perhaps the less than glowing reception afforded Judge's two 2009 ventures opened his mind to revisitation. Judge's ABC animated sitcom, "The Goode Family", was cancelled the day after its 12th and 13th (and ultimately final) episodes aired, just two months after its debut. A month later, his workplace comedy film Extract stumbled, grossing almost exactly what Office Space had ten years earlier, not adjusting for inflation. "Goode" was never released to DVD and Extract never took off there, denying each of any remarkable reputation or following.

In the summer of 2010, the once-unthinkable was announced: Beavis and Butt-Head were returning to MTV in all-new episodes. The relaunch not only had Judge's blessing and signature, but also his full involvement as executive producer and character voices. First broadcast from October to December 2011, the 12 new half-hour episodes demonstrated that this was not a new series, but a new season, picking up where things had left off fourteen years earlier with all the same settings, characters, wardrobes, and mentalities.

This title logo of profile shots reveals the show's modified title as "Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head." Naturally, Beavis and Butt-Head have some amusing comments on shirtless wilderness guide Tamarack in MTV's "True Life" episode "I'm Living Off the Grid."

Reflecting the drastic changes that MTV underwent in that time, Beavis and Butt-Head's couch commentary has been expanded to deride not just contemporary music videos but also reality programming like "Jersey Shore", "16 and Pregnant", and "True Life." Though that design might not appeal to the show's original fans now in their late twenties and thirties, it makes the two numbskull teens more relevant to present-day MTV viewers.
And naturally, Snooki, The Situation, et al. lend themselves to immature, sarcastic remarks even more so than the music videos of today you're unlikely to see on MTV. No matter what the target, the commentary produces some of the funniest material, while also nicely breaking up the typically quarter-hour storylines.

Returning to a fondly-recalled universe a long time later without disappointing is one of entertainment's toughest feats. Francis Ford Coppola couldn't do it with The Godfather Part III. George Lucas couldn't do it with his Star Wars prequels. Steven Spielberg couldn't do it with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. On their own merits, most of those creations are fine pieces of work, but they either fail to live up to their predecessors or fail to live up to fans' memories of them. Somehow, the new "Beavis and Butt-Head" doesn't join them. Proving you can go home again, it's more like Toy Story 3, displaying awareness of past successes and upholding the same winning spirit. Of course, where Pixar's imaginative, adventurous movies relate the insecurities and dreams of the human experience in terms of toys who yearn to be played with, Beavis and Butt-Head are mostly about chuckling at innuendo and stupidity.

Back in the '90s, parents and politicians denounced Beavis and Butt-Head, voicing enough objections to the series for MTV to open each episode with a witty disclaimer. Had they actually watched the show, detractors would have been aware of its obvious satire and social commentary. Only youths as braindead as Beavis and Butt-Head would think to imitate their ill-conceived antics or aspire to their pitifully passive lifestyles. As it was in the '90s, "Beavis and Butt-Head" remains quite smart and funny, drawing big laughs out of imagining how schoolteachers, classmates, and adults might respond to two glaring idiots in their midst.

Emphasizing continuity over clarity, the new season comes to DVD and Blu-ray today in a compilation simply titled "Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head": Volume 4 (the creator's name has technically been added to the title in place of MTV). That places the two-disc DVD and single-disc Blu-ray (which we review here) after three 3-disc DVD-only volumes in The Mike Judge Collection, from whose random, incomplete design it gladly departs. For once, episodes are presented intact, complete with Beavis and Butt-Head's TV commentary scenes. Clearing them for home video release was a no-brainer now and the show is much better for it. Excising or separating the music video bits and leaving just 5-minute shorts, the DVDs of the '90s episodes have never felt whole. At last, we get the show exactly as it aired (minus annoying commercial breaks and promotional graphics, of course).

Beavis and Butt-Head leap well into the 21st century with some "Twilight" mockery. In what might be Butt-Head's first time behind a computer, he proves to be the least helpful tech support agent ever.

The twelve episodes of the 2011 season are as follows. Red stars () designate my favorites.

1. Werewolves of Highland / Crying (21:03) (Originally aired October 27, 2011)
Upon getting kicked out of a Twilight movie, Beavis and Butt-Head plan to become vampires to get chicks. They settle for a bite from a crazy man to turn them into werewolves. Butt-Head teases Beavis for crying.
Watched and commented upon: MGMT's "Kids" music video, "Jersey Shore" pizzeria clip, Skrillex's "First of the Year (Equinox)" music video, "True Life" clip, LMFAO featuring Natalia Kills - "Champagne Showers" music video

2. Daughter's Hand / Tech Support (20:53) (Originally aired November 3, 2011)
Inspired by an old movie, Beavis and Butt-Head decide to ask a girl's father for her "hand" (huh huh). Then, the two chums walk into a tech support company and start answering calls.
Watched and commented upon: "16 and Pregnant" clip, "True Life" clip, Katy Perry's "Firework" music video.

3. Holy Cornholio (21:26) (Originally aired November 10, 2011)
Beavis accidentally screws an action figure into his hand. At the hospital, with pain pills bringing out his Great Cornholio alter ego, he is mistaken for the reincarnation of a cult's leader.
Watched and commented upon: "Jersey Shore" clip, T-Baby's "It's So Cold in the D" music video, Cage the Elephant's "In One Ear" music video, "Teen Mom" breast augmentation surgery clips

4. Drones (21:03) (Originally aired November 10, 2011)
On a class field trip to a military base, Beavis and Butt-Head start playing what they think is a video game. In fact, they're piloting drone aircrafts over the facility and the Middle East.
Watched and commented upon: deadmau5 featuring Rob Swire - "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" music video, MGMT's "It's Working" music video, "Jersey Shore" clips, Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" music video

Beavis and Butt-Head pack on the pounds with Mexican and other food in "Supersize Me." Beavis and Butt-Head are celebrated as heroes for their efforts to help filthy chicks in "Spill."

5. Supersize Me / Bathroom Break (20:45) (Originally aired November 17, 2011)
Inspired by Morgan Spurlock, Beavis and Butt-Head plan to get chicks by getting fat through 30 consecutive days of eating at Burger World. Back down to their normal statures, the two realize and exploit the fact that they get paid bathroom breaks at Burger World.
Watched and commented upon: A rich family's "Teen Cribs" tour, Snooki's spray tan cooldown from "Jersey Shore", Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Kisses Over Babylon" music video

6. The Rat / Spill (20:41) (Originally aired December 1, 2011)
After their attempts to kill it are unsuccessful, Beavis and Butt-Head adopt a rat as a pet and bring it to their workplace.
Misunderstanding the phrase "filthy chicks", Beavis and Butt-Head volunteer to clean oil-drenched birds.
Watched and commented upon: Oh Land's "White Nights" music video, Battles featuring Gary Numan - "My Machines" music video, clips from "Cuff'd" and "Jersey Shore"

7. Doomsday / Dumb Design (21:06) (Originally aired December 1, 2011)
Beavis and Butt-Head's belief that they've survived the "apocaclypse" isn't exactly accurate, although they do seem to be the only ones around. Inspired by a group protesting the teaching of evolution, Beavis and Butt-Head object to learning anything they can't easily understand.
Watched and commented upon: Plain White T's - "1, 2, 3, 4" music video, The Human Centipede (First Sequence) on Beavis & Butt-Head's movie review show, "True Life" clip

8. Copy Machine / Holding (20:54) (Originally aired December 8, 2011)
Beavis gets his butt stuck in the school's copy machine, prompting a media frenzy and emergency rescue effort. Then, the pals are mistaken for drug dealers and invited to visit the set of an adult movie.
Watched and commented upon: A foot fetish on "True Life", Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go - "Cinema" music video, "Jersey Shore" clip, clip from Spike's "The Ultimate Fighter"

Beavis and Butt-Head look to begin their bounty hunter careers with the wrong post office picture, of President Barack Obama. Outlandish music videos like Jake Walden's muggy "For Someone" remain a perfect target for Beavis and Butt-Head to skew.

9. Used Car / Bounty Hunters (21:21) (Originally aired December 15, 2011)
In the market for a used car, Beavis and Butt-Head drive a hard bargain. Beavis and Butt-Head try being bounty hunters, to disastrous effect.
Watched and commented upon: An embarrassing slutty mom on "True Life", boating on "Jersey Shore", Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP's "We No Speak Americano" music video, Avi Buffalo's "What's It In For?" music video

10. Time Machine / Massage (20:33) (Originally aired December 15, 2011)
On an historical reenactment field trip, Beavis and Butt-Head wake up and believe they've gone back in time. Beavis and Butt-Head set up a massage business in the mall.
Watched and commented upon: "16 and Pregnant" clip, Porcelain Black featuring Lil' Wayne - "This Is What Rock N' Roll Looks Like" music video, "Jersey Shore" hook-up family tree clip,

11. School Test / Snitchers (21:25) (Originally aired December 22, 2011)
Beavis and Butt-Head are prepped by their school's staff for an important standardized test. Beavis and Butt-Head witness local icon Todd commit a crime and have to testify, but their character is questioned on the stand.
Watched and commented upon: dog poop on "Jersey Shore", 3Oh!3's "Touchin On My" music video, "16 and Pregnant" clip, "True Life" clip

12. Whorehouse / Going Down (21:04) (Originally aired December 29, 2011)
In an effort to score, Beavis and Butt-Head join in an abortion clinic protest, hoping to get inside. Then, the two get stuck in an elevator.
Watched and commented upon: Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars - "Billionaire" music video, Jake Walden's "For Someone" music video, boat kickball on "Jersey Shore", Earl Greyhound's "Shotgun" music video

Beavis experiences a copy machine error of the butt variety. Recycling '90s animation, Beavis and Butt-Head's couch commentary scenes look noticeably rougher than Season 8's new visuals.

VIDEO and AUDIO

So faithful is the new "Beavis and Butt-Head" to its predecessors that it actually employs the 1.33:1 "full screen" aspect ratio that has become outmoded by HDTV. On a simply-animated program such as this (still hand-drawn, though now digitally colored), you might not place too much importance on picture quality, but the Blu-ray's pillarboxed 1080p visuals are nothing short of stunning most of the time. The exception is in the couch commentary scenes, which actually seem to recycle and rework standard-definition animation from the '90s incarnation and, as a result, look considerably less clean and vibrant.
One wonders how much time and money this approach saved, especially since there are plenty of new scenes of them sitting in much the same place. Perhaps it was a stylistic choice, a compromise between having the whole show look like that and the more obvious route of spotless all-new animation.

The shows and music videos that Beavis and Butt-Head watch are typically windowboxed widescreen, so as not to assume greater dimensions than them. Beavis and Butt-Head evidently don't have an HDTV; the show and video excerpts are clearly not HD quality. They're not even SD quality. This may have been another concession. Another is the usual constant presence of a "Beavis and Butt-Head" title bubble over the content. The episodes are as they aired on TV; "Jersey Shore" profanity remains bleeped as does the rare animation expletive.

The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is very nice, with both the original material and the licensed clips being spread throughout the channels. The animated segments boast an impressive amount of directionality. All of it is crisp and intelligible, although volume levels are a bit inconsistent, especially from menu to bonus feature. In a much-appreciated, rare touch from MTV, English subtitles are provided for the hearing impaired.

A shaded Johnny Knoxville moderates, while creator Mike Judge answers questions at Beavis and Butt-Head's 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Panel. Snooki talks to Butt-Head through the magic of editing in one of four Interruption shorts.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The disc barely makes good on the rear cover's "and more!" claim for a grand total of three supplemental listings, all of them presented in HD.

First and best is MTV Geek footage from the show's 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Panel (19:17). The Q & A session is moderated by "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville, whose questions prompt Judge to discuss his life and the show's origins, eventually coming around to this revival which he teases to great audience enthusiasm. The last few minutes open the floor to audience questions, including one delivered in a great Cornholio impression. It's a solid piece.

Next come four "Beavis & Butt-Head Interruptions", running 1-2 minutes each (4:57 in total, though a "Play All" is missed). These shorts edit Butt-Head and to a lesser degree Beavis into "Jersey Shore" phone calls. The gag requires knowledge of and appreciation for the reality show that I lack, but it's an okay effort.

Beavis and Butt-Head briefly advocate silence in this succinct pre-movie short. Todd keeps Beavis and Butt-Head in line on the Blu-ray's menu.

Finally, we get "Silence Your Cell Phone" (0:17), a brief Beavis and Butt-Head short which we can easily deduce was meant to play in theaters before movies.

The fitting menu plays the brief theme music while stills and clips take their turns moving around the screen, whose border matches the packaging scheme. The disc does not support bookmarks, but gladly, it does resume playback to some degree.
Other studios have employed BD technology to remember which episodes you have watched, even across multi-disc sets, and such a feature might have been nice here, but as is, it is safe to say that the only way the DVD could be considered superior to this Blu-ray is in its uniformity to past releases and even that is limited.

The unslipcovered standard eco-friendly Blu-ray case contains a single-sided insert, which vouches for the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It's crazy how quickly 16:9 has become the television standard. It wasn't long ago that Paramount used to have to explain the black bars widescreen presentations would leave on standard TV. Nor was it long ago that programming from the Viacom cable family regularly came to DVD in 1.33:1. Too bad the back of the insert wasn't used to provide a list of episode titles and synopses.

Though Beavis and Butt-Head never age, "Crying" gives us a look at elderly retirement home versions of the character. Beavis and Butt-Head rock out to the video game that is in fact piloting real military drone planes.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Amazingly, the new "Beavis and Butt-Head" is just as funny as you remember the original run to be. It's rare for a production lapsed so long to be able to return to form without missing a beat, but Mike Judge and his crew have done just that, updating the world around the two immature, idiotic antiheroes but retaining the same comic charm. This revival is satisfying enough to recommend seeing and revisiting. And the home video presentation is also satisfactory. Is this a show you'll need to opt for Blu-ray over DVD? Probably not, but the price difference is minimal and the picture and sound quality must be at least a little better here.

Buy Beavis and Butt-Head: Season 8: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video / HD Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed February 14, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Judgemental Films, Ternion Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment, MTV Production Development, Viacom Media Networks,
and 2012 MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.