A ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ comeback? Uh ... OK
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org October 25, 2011 5:34PM
“Beavis & Butt-Head” returns to MTV, this time to critique the world of reality television.
‘BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD’ ★★1/2
9 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays on MTV
‘GOOD VIBES’ ★★1/2
9:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays on MTV
‘ALLEN GREGORY’ ★★★
7:30 to 8 p.m. Sundays on WFLD-Channel 32
Updated: November 27, 2011 12:34PM
It’s been nearly two decades since we first met Beavis and Butt-Head, Mike Judge’s animated duo of delinquents who spoke as crudely as they were drawn.
Their MTV series, a cult phenomenon, ended its nearly five-year run in 1997. Now, the boys are back with a dozen new episodes starting Thursday.
Fourteen years have gone by, but Beavis and Butt-Head haven’t aged a bit. They’re still slackers sporting heavy-metal T-shirts, (barely) attending Highland High and delivering boob-tube color commentary from their couch.
The boys haven’t changed, but the world around them has. And that’s a problem with resurrecting the series. It used to be pretty funny watching a couple of doofuses analyze Vanilla Ice and Judas Priest music videos. These days, the television landscape is different. B&B’s updated observations are aimed largely at reality TV shows like “Jersey Shore,” which happens to be full of living, breathing humans who are a few IQ points shy of Beavis and Butt-Head.
“This guy looks like he might be stupider than us,” Butt-Head says while watching one of the deadbeat losers on a clip of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.”
Butt-Head’s right — and that’s what’s wrong. Reality TV has blessed us with so many idiots to laugh at, it’s overkill to have a couple of animated jackasses describe what a jackass Snooki is.
Having Beavis and Butt-Head tackle 21st century topics isn’t all bad. The premiere includes a pretty humorous story line that plays off pop culture’s obsession with vampires and werewolves. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, this time around, the line “This sucks, change it!” gets uttered more often by viewers than by the nose-picking, grunting characters who made it famous almost 20 years ago.
Back then, David Gordon Green, 36, was a fan of the show. Now, Green has his own animated series, “Good Vibes,” that debuts after “Beavis and Butt-Head” on MTV.
“Good Vibes” is a coming-of-age tale about an overweight, socially awkward teenager named Mondo who moves to a Southern California beach town where even the bums are buff.
“In a world full of Kardashians, I’m just the Khloe,” Mondo opines to his tramp-stamped, cougarific mother, a cocktail waitress at Tiki Tako.
“Good Vibes” is a raunchy show whose double D cup overfloweth with boob jokes. If I were a 16-year-old boy, I’d probably give it four stars. As a 42-year-old woman, I’m not nearly that generous. But I have to admit that “Good Vibes” delivered some good laughs in between crotch punches and penis punch lines.
Just like the creator and producer of “Good Vibes” took inspiration from the animated shows he grew up on, Jonah Hill (“Moneyball,” “Superbad”) credits “The Simpsons” for planting the seed that blossomed into his new animated series, “Allen Gregory.” (Hill, 27, a diehard “Simpsons” fan, used to tell his parents he wanted to live in Homer’s hometown of Springfield.)
Sandwiched in a cozy time slot between “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” “Allen Gregory” is the latest addition to Fox’s Sunday night animation block.
It’s the story of an uber-pretentious 7-year-old, Allen Gregory DeLongpre, who boasts about being friends with Sandra Bullock and lobbying for fuel cell technology on Capitol Hill. (He’s a little like Stewie from “Family Guy,” minus the matricidal tendencies and British accent.)
When Allen Gregory’s gay dads can no longer afford to homeschool their son, he’s forced to mix with hoi polloi at Feldstein Elementary School. (Feldstein is the real last name of Hill, who nails it as the smug voice of Allen Gregory.)
With a backpack full of condescension and a lunch box loaded with sushi and pinot grigio, Allen Gregory doesn’t exactly fit in at public school. Same goes for his adopted Cambodian sister, who joined this dysfunctional family after Richard DeLongpre “selflessly went onto that website and clicked, ‘Add Julie to cart.’”
“Allen Gregory” gets less funny when it veers away from the schoolyard and into the home, where the vibe feels a bit too malicious at times. Case in point: Allen Gregory seems almost disappointed when one of his dads — the non-obnoxious one — doesn’t have “full-blownsies” AIDS.
Even so, the absurdity of an omniscient sophisticate still in short pants carries plenty of comedic potential. Let’s hope Hill learned a lot of lessons from “The Simpsons” and makes the most of it.