'Beavis and Butt-head' (10PM ET Thursday, MTV) and their instantly recognizable "heheh hehehes" are back, but the news that Mike Judge and the network were resuscitating the slacker duo was a little scary when it emerged last year.
I have many fond memories of the way Beavis and Butt-head fearlessly and sophomorically commented on the overblown music videos and pop-culture icons of the '90s, but in a few years, I'll be exiting television's most desirable demographic, and I probably left MTV's a decade or two ago. Would new-school Beavis and Butt-head have relevance for those unfamiliar with their breathy giggles or would the show return as a musty and ultimately irrelevant museum piece aimed at the nostalgia crowd?
Perhaps an even bigger question: Would they still be worth listening to in the age of social media, which finds us all doing running commentaries on things we find preposterous and moronic?
The good news is, 'Beavis and Butt-head' still have plenty of targets to pick from and they still effectively deploy the same mixture of irreverence, silliness and stupidity. There's still something winning and relevant about their particular blend of cluelessness and surprisingly sharp commentary. And these days, when they're not engaged in their own small-stakes adventures, the stumbling goofballs take aim at the casts of 'Teen Mom,' 'Teen Cribs' and, of course, 'Jersey Shore.'
Watching the duo comment on an attempt by the 'Jersey Shore' cast to map all its hookups was pretty amusing: "This is like a family tree if your family was made of whores." As they stare at one particularly dumb-looking 'Teen Mom' dad, Butt-head shows a certain level of self-awareness: "This guy looks like he might be stupider than us!"
The guys mocked (or rather, predictably slobbered over) one music-video in the season premiere, but it was from a band I'd never heard of, which isn't surprising. In the decades since 'Beavis and Butt-head' appeared, the music industry has become ever more fractured and diffuse; nowadays, reality television (much of it from MTV) is more likely to supply us with the pop-culture knowledge we share in common.
So the decision to skewer the network's reality lunkheads is understandable, but the danger with the new-school 'Beavis and Butt-head' is that taking aim at the same MTV targets again and again might get old. Still, there are ways for Judge and the network to goof on non-MTV targets without necessarily getting clearance to run footage from those TV shows and movies: The premiere takes aim at 'The Bachelor,' for instance, without referring to it by name, and the first segment of the season premiere mocks the 'Twilight' phenomena with typical goofiness (for Beavis and Butt-head, the decisions that flow from the premise that chicks dig werewolves and vampires are very bad).
So it's good to have 'Beavis and Butt-head' back, but it's less exciting to welcome 'Allen Gregory' (8:30PM ET Sunday, Fox) to the small screen. Actor Jonah Hill co-created this animated show, which has him voicing a precocious and obnoxious homeschooled 7-year-old boy who is in for a shock when he begins attending a public school: It doesn't take long for everyone to begin to despise his pretentious ways.
Perhaps Allen Gregory's arrogance is meant to be entertaining, but I just found it mostly insufferable, despite his occasional flashes of self-awareness. I also didn't find it amusing that one of Allen Gregory's dads constantly berated and belittled the other dad.
Then again, I'm probably not in the target demo for this show either. Unless I hear 'Allen Gregory' has taken a great leap forward in originality and intelligence (and so far the writing shows little of either), I'll probably just stick with 'Bob's Burgers,' the genially deranged animated comedy that Fox will bring back in January.
Note: Hill talks about his new show in this clip.
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