The last of the Mike Judge Collections has arrived, Volume 3, and my mixed feelings are carried over from the previous two releases. For those who weren't keeping up with this DVD series, a quick recap is in order. A few years back, MTV attempted to release a DVD compilation of Beavis and Butt-head, calling it The History of Beavis and Butt-head. Even though this 2-DVD set had shipped to retailers, Mike Judge demanded it be recalled – he hadn't been asked to participate. Reasonable enough, it was his creation after all – and, of course, a phenomenal success that made him a household name. Frustrating as the recall may have been for B&B fans starving for something more than the then-recent Time-Life volumes (which were simply DVD reissues of the VHS collections), a Mike Judge-sanctioned release sounded promising.
Last year, the first of three 3-DVD Mike Judge Collections was released. Tucked inside the box was a note from Mr. Judge himself. He explained that he is very proud of about one-third of the approximately 200 Beavis & Butt-head shorts. Another third he feels are pretty good. The remaining third he finds embarrassing. The three collections contain the two-thirds he thinks are good. In other words, some 70-plus cartoons will not be released on DVD. To make matters worse, the "Director's Cut" cartoons found on Volume 1 turned out to be shortened versions. Probably due to a very vocal fan reaction, the cartoons on Volume 2 were not edited.
The good news is that the 42 shorts found on Volume 3 are also presented in their entirety. Fans of the show will be pleased to find loads of classic episodes on this set. Some of my favorites are found on disc one, such as "Buy Beer" where the boys get 'drunk' from non-alcoholic brew. The Great Cornholio makes an appearance on Disc One as well, in "Vaya Con Cornholio." The superb Christmas shorts are also on the first disc, "Huh-Huh-Humbug" (a take-off on A Christmas Carol) and "It's a Miserable Life" (which spoofs It's a Wonderful Life).
Disc two has its share of great moments as well. "Bride of Butt-head" finds the boys ordering a mail order Russian bride (she ends up ditching them and scoring with Todd). "Woodshop" is another favorite of mine, where the two get carried away with the table saw in shop class. The series finale concludes Disc Two, "Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," and it runs considerably longer than the average episode — about 20 minutes — though much of that time is taken up by clips from earlier episodes.
I could go on and on about my favorite moments, but some things are better appreciated without any set-up. If there are episodes on this volume that you haven't seen (and some of them were not broadcast as frequently as others back in the day), you will enjoy discovering them. For those of us who were watching this show when it was new, these Mike Judge Collections have been real nostalgia trips. I think the social satire has aged very well. Beavis and Butt-head was always a much smarter show than its detractors gave it credit. Rather than promoting anti-social behavior, the show was an accurate reflection of the TV-obsessed youth culture that existed then (and now). One of the subtler running gags throughout the series was that the adults Beavis and Butt-head encountered were usually just as clueless as they were. Of course, the bottom line with this show has always been: it's just plain funny. I hope there is a new generation of fans discovering the show on DVD. But quite frankly I wonder if it all seems a bit quaint to newcomers, what with the edgier fare kids have been raised on (edgier fare whose way was paved, it should be noted, by Beavis and Butt-head).
Disc three houses the special features. The format is pretty much the same was with the previous two volumes. That's by no means a complaint, as these releases have done a nice job of rounding up old B&B tidbits, as well as adding some newly produced supplements to the mix. First up is a selection of music videos with B&B commentary. A real point of contention among many fans has been the omission of the music video segments from the episodes. The expense of music licensing for scores of artists was too much for MTV. While it would be great to have all that material in place (some of the boys' best moments came during those segments), it is understandable I guess. The compromise has been to include a handful of music videos on each volume, giving a nice representation of the wide-ranging topics B&B would discuss (sometimes they focused on the content of the video they were watching, sometimes their commentary would veer off to something entirely different). Volume Three has 15 music video segments, running a combined 27 minutes. The 'Play All' option is a welcome touch.
Next up on disc three is the original, uncut Frog Baseball – the cartoon that started it all. This was Beavis and Butt-head's first appearance. It is most valuable as a historical artifact. There really isn't much to it (it runs well under 3 minutes total). Everything about this short is crude and not all that representative of what the show would develop into. Actually, the meaner personas the boys exhibit here are pretty much in line with the very early episodes. But since Mike Judge has elected not to release many of those early cartoons, new fans are likely to be shocked by Frog Baseball — not necessarily by the animal cruelty depicted, but by how different the characters come across when compared to the late-era episodes collected on discs one and two.
Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-head, Part 3 concludes the retrospective documentary that began on Volume One. This 24-minute piece follows the same format as the previous two installments, mostly interview clips with Mike Judge and others who worked on the series, mixed with clips from episodes (far too many, in my opinion). Here you can see Mike Judge discussing how he was feeling bored by the series in it's final two seasons. We see a few brief shots of him in the studio voicing the characters — far too little, I would've loved to seen more of that.
Many 'Special Appearances' are found on disc three. The funniest stuff is Christmas-themed. The "Letters to Santa Butt-head" is really hilarious — and was originally part of the hour-long B&B Christmas special. Also included are a few short clips from the 2005 VMAs that constituted B&B's return to MTV – the first new material since the series ended. Nice to have, even if Judge can't quite do Beavis's voice like he used to. Rounding out the set are some promos including a few priceless clips of Mike Judge directing the boys on the set of the movie. Also noteworthy: there are newly done promos that were shown in '05 when MTV was promoting the first of these Mike Judge Collection DVDs. In the final one of these promos the infomercial "Decade of Power," featuring Billy Dee Williams interviewing Beavis and Butt-head to promote Volume One, is mentioned. Considering that the infomercial had a considerable amount of new B&B material, it's a shame that MTV did throw that on the DVD as well.
We fans can only hope that Mike Judge eventually sees fit to release the remaining episodes on DVD. But until then, Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection Volume 3 provides plenty of laughs.Powered by Sidelines