Prior to the big announcement in 2011, I never thought I'd see the day that Beavis & Butt-head would return to television in all its moronic glory. Thanks to Mike Judge, who created the show in the early 1990s, we have a potent shot of nostalgia - and still-vital humor - with these brand new episodes. Beavis & Butt-head - Volume 4 seems like an unusual title, considering volumes one through three are multi-disc compilations covering episodes from the show's original run. But in a way it makes sense, considering that the new Beavis & Butt-head is basically the same as the old. It's not a reboot in any way. The animation is still primitive (though it looks much brighter and cleaner on the newly released Blu-ray, the show's first high definition release). The same supporting cast including Van Driessen, Buzzcut, Anderson, and McVicker are back (sadly no Daria however). And the plots for each of the dozen included episodes are gloriously simple.
Most of the episodes are divided into two short stories. Of course, the word "story" is used very loosely in the world of Beavis and Butt-head, as the hijinks they get up to are usually not carefully developed narratives. The fun of the series has always been seeing the two friends reacting dim-wittedly to the world around them, unfazed by the chaos they often seem to have a hand in creating. While the return of Beavis' alter-ego The Great Cornholio - who becomes an unlikely cult leader - is given a full episode, Beavis & Butt-head is at its best when it keeps things as simple as the characters' mentality. Still working at Burger World, it dawns on the boys in one episode that they are still on the clock while taking the occasional bathroom break. Taking full advantage of this, they leave a restaurant full of unserved customers while simply hanging out in the restroom.
To those familiar with Beavis & Butt-head, that probably sounds like a classic set-up for a funny episode - and it is. But for the uninitiated, it's far better to just watch these episodes than to try and explain them. Despite slightly more ambitious plots like the Cornholio episode and one that finds Beavis and Butt-head unwittingly starting a war in the Middle East ("Drones"), the show meditates on much more basic concepts. Beavis gets stuck in a copier after trying to Xerox his rear end (recalling the '90s classic "The Pipe of Doom"). Beavis and Butt-head mistakenly think that a tweaking meth-head wants to "score" with them. In another episode, after adopting a rat, Beavis' germ-ridden new pet wreaks havoc at Burger World. Any of these could've fit right into the '90s series. While I had to wonder how Judge might've reimagined the characters as young adults, the new Beavis & Butt-head is ultimately so winning simply for following the previously established formula.