Beavis and Butt-Head makes triumphant return

Benjamin Smith

Before Oct. 27, it had been 14 years since new episodes of “Beavis and Butt-Head” last aired.

After watching the first four episodes, it’s clear that reviving the series is the best decision MTV has made since they got rid of Carson Daly.

The revival of the show about two bawdy, snickering teens picks up right where it left off 14 years ago without missing a beat. Beavis and Butt-Head still meander around the fictional town of Highland, Texas, participating in idiotically idiotic acts of idiocy. The only real major difference between the show’s old and new formats is that instead of solely watching and criticizing music videos, as was a cornerstone of the original “Beavis and Butt-Head,” the two now mostly lend their unique brand of sardonic commentary to MTV’s reality lineup — shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom.”

It’s the kind of brevity MTV has been in dire need of since the first manipulative piano melody was laid over some wide shot of Lauren Conrad walking on a beach in an effort to make you feel things about her white girl problems.

Mike Judge created “Beavis and Butt-Head” in 1992 for two animated shorts that later aired on MTV’s “Liquid Television” — an Emmy Award-winning animation showcase that ran from 1991-1994. MTV gave the dim-witted duo their own series in 1993 — its popularity sparked the 1996 feature film “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” and the spin-off series “Daria.”

Beavis and Butt-Head’s middle-aged neighbor Tom Anderson also served as the precursor to Hank Hill, the main character of Mike Judge and Greg Daniels’s long running animated series “King of the Hill.”

The show has retained a cult following in the years since its cancellation, but over the past decade, the series’ mainstream popularity in youth culture faded. The belated release of a series of three-disc DVD sets beginning in 2005, though, did a lot to turn that around and lay the groundwork for the second coming of “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

Prior to this, “Beavis and Butt-Head” possessed an essentially non-existent home video presence largely due to the legal complications of obtaining the rights to the music videos that were lampooned by the aimless juveniles in the series. Syndication had trailed off by the 2000s and Judge noted in a 2005 interview with the Houston Chronicle that not even he knew the whereabouts of all 200 original episodes, saying that some of them probably only exist on VHS tapes at people’s houses.

The release of what MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment labeled as “Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection” introduced the series to a new generation of apathetic teenagers. Since 2005, the series has cultivated its popularity anew, rising out of the dustbin of 1990s nostalgia beyond the majestic Furby and all of the movies with excessive amounts of Melissa Joan Hart to a renewed position of relevance.

MTV reported that the season premiere pulled in 3.3 million total viewers — a ratings hit according to the New York Post.

“Beavis and Butt-Head” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on MTV.

Published on Thursday, November 10, 2011 as: 'Beavis and Butt-Head' returns, recaptures audience of original