Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The 8 Best and 4 Worst Adventures of B&B (According to IMDB)

We couldn't locate any official fan-conducted polls of the best or least favorite episodes, so we figured the rankings on IMDB were a decent alternative. The results seem reasonably close to what hardcore fans might have chosen.

So how did Beavis score on IMDB? The top 8 all scored between 8.5 and 8.7. IMDB breaks their 1-decimal ties alphabetically by episode title, but we chose chronology to break ties because of our personal preference for earlier episodes. The bottom 4 all received a respectable score of 7.0.


#8 "Werewolves of Highland" b/w "Crying" (2011)

Contrary to popular opinion, Season 8 and its noncanonical 2011 premiere episode did NOT pick up where the show left off 14 years prior. Instead, it functions to fill in the gaps. Had the show continued endlessly like The Simpsons or South Park, this is how it would have progressed:

  • Scoring is still their primary motivation, although Beavis and Butthead no longer exclusively think with their dicks or react only to their baser impulses. They’re slightly more adept at quick inferences than in 1997.
  • For some reason, they’re paying attention in class and not goofing off as much as before.
  • ‘90s B&B writer David Felton once described his process as “Go back to the place where thinking begins and stay there.” Now controlled by a different creative crew, B&B generally seem less stupid than they used to be.
  • Butthead’s jokey demeanor drops into his mellow, alluring tone more frequently than ever before. It seems like half of his dialogue is delivered with the same tone he used for the line “Let’s get a little mellow” when they were watching “Fake Plastic Trees,” which is not the same way he used to speak. Many fans noted that Beavis’s voice sounds more grunty.
  • This was the first episode animated with digital ink and paint and not entirely hand drawn.
  • The 2 stories are permanently packaged as an unbroken 30-minute experience instead of the old school methods where MTV would re-air previously aired B&B shorts during the show’s second half.

    We’re unsure why this placed as the eighth best episode ever over classics like “Pipe of Doom” or fan favorites like “Tired.” The jokes aren’t as funny as they used to be, and the stories throughout the 2011 season felt overall conceptually overreaching.

    Fans were initially skeptical of the commentary segments switching to half-videos/half-MTV shows, although the very first Jersey Shore clip from this episode is not bad. In "Werewolves Of Highland," Beavis adds spiciness to a few lines like "Soon, they will do our bidding!" in the same way that he used to deliver his horribly classic Mr. Sulu impression. Moments like those were the ones we were waiting for.

    “Crying” is the stronger of the two stories in this episode, but mostly for its ending when we finally get to see what might have been Butthead’s death scene at age 95, directly beside geriatric Beavis who gives equally as less of a fuck about his friend’s death as Butthead expressed in “The Final Judgement of Beavis.”

    Also, this is the only episode from the top 8 current streaming at MTV.Com:

    #7 "Butt Flambé" (1997)

    Throughout October and November '97, MTV held an extended Beavis and Butthead celebration re-airing what they advertised as "every episode" in chronological order (2-4 episodes per night). It was not every episode, but they probably showed about 170 of them, which they had never attempted before. They re-aired a handful that were previously banned and a few that lifted some of the censored moments. (This was a big deal in the era before binge-marathons and DVR.) Casual viewers were reminded of the minimal, crude non-stories of 1993. The journey from "Frog Baseball" to "Butt Flambé" felt like an eternity.

    "Butt Flambé" was the third-to-last episode, premiering mid-way through the "every episode" celebration. It's as maximal and high-concept as the show ever got, including a B- and C- story, plus a mysteriously open-ended intro and closing scene. It's also (possibly) part of a loose story arc within the show's floating timeline that connects to "Beavis and Butthead Are Dead" and "Prank Call." (These connections will be explored later in this list. *spoiler*)

    Similar to '50s Looney Toons shorts, the simplicity of B&B's universe crafted itself around what the writers chose NOT to include (a tip Simpsons writers could have used from Season 14 onward). The potential scope of B&B's adventures were purposely limited, enabling the writers to get more wild and creative as the show progressed. After showing the "money shots" part of the story 197 times, the adventure that sent Beavis to the E.R. was decidedly less interesting than what happened afterwards.

    From Meeseeks and Destroy:
    Rick: (sarcastically) "Yeah, Morty, this is the part of the story evvvvv'rybody loves - scaling down 650,000 oversized steps."
    Morty: "All right, okay, you know, if this was a story, this part wouldn't be included, stupid."

    Yes, but "the parts that shouldn't be included" are essentially the basis of reality television. It was only a matter of time before TV cartoons ultimately led in this direction.

    #6 "Candy Sale" (1996)

    "Candy Sale" is a good example of a classically stupid narrative in the style of Larry Fine & Curly Howard or Jed Clampett & Jethro Bodine who probably expressed a similarly boneheaded grasp of basic sales exchange at some point.

    Mr. Candy (voiced by David Spade), formerly known as Mr. Manners, got what he deserved. He doesn't exactly say that Butthead is wrong after getting called out for holding his nads while speaking in front of Mr. Buzzcut's class. He later places his hands on Beavis and hyper-defensively loses his cool after they call him a pocket fisherman and a pervert. All signs point to B&B seeming very correct in their insight. "Ohhh no. You're not gonna pull that again. It took me six months to get another job!"

    The B&B Wikia page sheds some insight: They theorize Mr. Manners & Mr. Candy are the same character as Kelly, the doorman in the episode "Babes R Us," who calls on Thor (the security guard "gorilla boy" from "At The Sideshow") to throw their heads into sidewalk pavement multiple times. When they see Mr. Buzzcut finally kicking his ass 3 years later, it's karmic revenge.

    Video stuff: During the Coolio video, Beavis does a impression of Redd Foxx in Sanford & Son and they admit to loving the show because there's lots of garbage everywhere.

    #5 "The Great Cornholio" (1994)

    The Beavis and Butthead Wikia resource claims the original title "Breakfast Burritos" was quickly changed to "The Great Cornholio" during future airings thanks to Cornholio's instant popularity. We've found no other evidence to back up this claim. But if true, this adds some insight to Cornholio's genesis. The show creators had no intention of devising a catchphrase-heavy recurring motif easily exploitable by MTV in the coming years.

    From Taint Of Greatness...

    Mike Judge: "One night sometime right after the L.A. earthquake – maybe it locked a screw loose in my brain. I had an image of Beavis with a shirt over his head pulled up with his head sticking through, like I’d seen kids do when I was a little kid."

    Kristophor Brown (writer/producer): "I had just heard a news report that said 'A medical study says sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children.' My initial thought was, 'why don’t we just call bullshit on this medical study and have him load up on sugar and caffeine?'"

    Mike Judge: "Kris and I wrote a beginning where they go to Stewart’s house. We kinda made it up on the spot, and the rest was really just improvised. I would tell people, 'Maybe no one’s gonna like this. Maybe people will think it’s too out there.' But it ended up being THE favorite episode probably of all time. I didn’t want to do too many [more Cornholio episodes] because the magic of the first time wouldn’t be there – if you wanna call that magic."

    #4 "No Laughing" (1993)

    Many of the '93 episodes have such uneventful narratives, although those episodes did the best job of establishing the inherent boredom of dead-end Highland (a town whose home-state is never established, although we are 99% certain it's a fictional town in Mike's home state of Texas) and dreadfully miserable 7-hour high school days. The shitty animation style from that era adds so much character, establishing a Gummo-esq dichotomy uncovering beauty in the ugliness, liveliness in the boredom, thoughtfulness in the stupidity.

    We get the feeling "No Laughing" would not have been expanded to a 30-minute 2-parter had it premiered in 1994 or later. That said, it has most engaging and most memorable narrative of anything from the first 3 seasons. (The only other 1993 episode to crack IMDB's top 50 was "Closing Time," the one where a health inspector closes down Burger World after B&B spend their graveyard shift throwing fast food into the ceiling fan.)

    Early in the episode, a sharpened pencil flies into Beavis's eye socket. He initially screams, but then laughs it off moments later. The laughs are more than just punchline indicators; they're a natural defense mechanism deflecting certain death. Will their lives forever change after the staff of Highland High removes their privilege?

    It's one of Principal McVicker's first appearances, and his voice sounds uncharacteristically less quavery and more confident. In "Burger World" (a few episodes prior), his character design was not yet designated as the high school principal, but his drive-thru order (to which Butthead replies "shut up") sounds more similar to what happened after "No Laughing." We see him maniacally laughing while knocking back guzzles of bourbon hidden in his desk drawer. It's possible the quavers are a consequence of the alcoholism and drug addiction that B&B allegedly enabled.

    #3 "Beavis and Butthead Are Dead" (1997)

    When the title of the last episode leaked weeks before its premiere, rumors spread that B&B would be among the few TV shows in history daring enough to kill off its titular characters once and for all. The show creators strongly considered the idea. Either way, the title promised an exciting banger of a finale on par with the scene from Beavis and Butthead Do America when the FBI and secret service take aim at deliriously oblivious Cornholio.

    B&B did not go out with a bang. The last episode was instead a friendly wave goodbye to the hardcore fans. In its final scene, Beavis and Butthead walk slowly into the sunset with their laughter (not unlike the final scene from Do America). Instead of Mike Judge's self-recorded B&B theme song, Liberace's version of "I'll Be Seeing You" plays over the final credit scroll (alongside a once-shown "greatest hits" series of still shots). A final message is shown: "Thank you to all the talented artists, writers and highly intelligent people who worked so hard to make Beavis and Butt-head look so dumb." The last 10 seconds are silent. A blank screen shows "(c) 1997 MTV Networks" with the B&B logo one last time. Along with the majority of Season 7, the episode wasn't re-run as often as previous ones.

    There were no explosions. This was not the fabled episode when Beavis finally scored. Rather, it was the only time Beavis and Butthead opted to throw together a clip show in lieu of video commentary. It's not one of the funniest episodes, so it's a strange choice for the top 3, although its historical significance alone should be enough for canonization. Plus, it's packed with notable moments:

    - Before the show reveals that they're not actually dead, Van Driessen and McVicker discuss the whereabouts of their parents. For a moment, it seemed like the final episode might have uncovered more insight or included prominent show appearances from their moms. (It's assumed their dads are the two former Mötley Crüe roadies who cross their path in the desert segment of Do America.)
    - McVicker's drug addiction and shaky nerves immediately subside after he believes the news of their death.
    - It's never explained how they acquired three weeks worth of nachos, which is the reason why they haven't left the house in so long.
    - We're having trouble figuring out whether Tom Anderson was present throughout Season 7. His last appearance might have been in Beavis and Butthead Do America, and he is probably the character we miss the most who we wish had been present in the final episode.
    - The TV parodies were among the show's most underrated moments, and we're happy the old clips included 8 or 9 of these. "Do these buttwipes actually think we’re gonna sit here and watch the same crap over and over?” Mike was exhausted, but the viewers were not. MTV viewers proved they really could watch the same crap over and over. (This sequence was foreshadowed in Butt Flambé a few episodes prior. In the operating room, the Benny Hill parody clip with the line "I got me finga stuck in me bum" was recycled from the episode when Butthead chokes on chicken.)
    - This was Daria's final show appearance. (She's not in the 2011 season, and her own series premiered earlier that year.) Daria and Stewart seem like the only Highland students even marginally affected. Daria's memories are objective and accurate. Butthead and Stewart's memories are inaccurate, while Beavis is incapable of remembering anything.

    #2 "Prank Call" (1996)

    Harry Sachz first appears deep in Season 6 within the series' last 50 episodes. Along with the Crazy Farmer from "Bungholio: Lord Of The Harvest," he is one of the show's more mysterious recurring characters.

    The story of Harry Sachz begins in "Prank Call." He's a larger dude who drinks beer alone while watching The People's Court. The timeline implies that B&B push Harry Sachz into a maniacal rage with several months of prank call harassment. By the time of "Nothing Happened" (roughly a year later), he's involved in a high speed police chase after stealing a car and is shot by police. In "Butt Flambé" (roughly six months after "Nothing Happened"), he's in the emergency room with bullet wounds in his chest and is later pronounced dead on an operating table. Are all of these events related? So many missing puzzle pieces.

    At the time, he was one of the show's only dead recurring characters. However, between 1997 and 2011, Harry somehow recovers from gunshot death and prominently appears in the 2011 episode "Doomsday."

    A few notable moments from "Prank Call":
    - B&B's phone number is 555-2868 (which appears on Harry Sachz' caller-ID unit, recently purchased out of frustration. "Somebody gawna die."
    - Mr. Stevenson no longer teaches at Highland High School by the time of this episode. "Can somebody get that? That might be the office."

    All three vids are great examples of how video critique could miraculously uncover areas of their intelligence rarely heard outside of their living room.
    - Bucketheads "The Bomb" - Butthead invents a tongue-twister, "Her butt looks better in pants than most chicks butts look naked."
    - Bon Jovi "Something For The Pain" - Beavis defends his love for Jovi.
    - Del Amitri "Roll To Me" - Butthead says the chicks in this video give him a special feeling in his seminiferous tubules.

    #1 "Bus Trip" (1995)

    David Van Driessen should probably stop singing in public. As early as his first appearance in the Peace Love and Understanding short, the first of his nine lives ends abruptly while singing a song about Earth Day at a monster truck rally. "I'd just like to remind everybody that today is Earth Day, and everyday is Earth Day. So I'd like to ask everybody to sort of just mellow out, and if we could all just join hands and help me sing this song, that would be really great! Mm-kay? *Plant a treeeee... Save a treee...*" Around this point, the monster truck lands on his head and crushes his entire body into fragments of flesh, bone and blood. B&B respond "YES!" and headbang.

    Mike Judge has admitted that, aside from Beavis, Mr. Van Driessen was his favorite of all his voices, although he always felt uncomfortable whenever he got stuck singing one of Van Driessen's incredibly shitty folk songs like "Men (Have Feelings Too)" or "Lesbian Seagull." It seems like every time he sings in public, he's interrupted by a violently traumatic near-death experience. To B&B's credit, it's usually not their fault, although in "Bus Trip" it's partially their fault that Van Driessen was standing a little too close to the front of the bus.

    Is this the single greatest moment in B&B history?

    It's a moment when we are definitely NOT reminded that they are cartoon characters portrayed as gloriously tragic humans. His crash through the school bus window is amazing enough to get shown three times from three different angles. He warns the class earlier that the descent down "Mount Pierrdido" (huh-huh, mount) will be "quite a work out," but the MTV equivalent of a Wile E. Coyote moment is probably not what he had in mind.

    By '95, the character designs, voices, animation style, stories and jokes were as close as they would ever get to what Mike Judge had in his head when he first started. By '97, the animation had grown slightly too slick, the stories were just barely too polished, and they were no longer pacing the episodes with video commentary. So it's possible that this moment from "Bus Trip" might the culmination of their best season. It's one of those episodes that has at least one joke (sometimes more than one) within pretty much every line of dialogue.

    The show's pacing shouldn't be underestimated here. Following the bus accident, the A.D.D. nature of the show abruptly pivots to commentary for a forgotten '90s band called The Rake's Progress that focuses on milk delivery. An old guy with a long white beard is shown drinking milk from a carton. Butthead responds, "Hh-hh. I like it when old people let their mouths hang open? 'Cuz they don't remember to close it? Hh-hh." The timing of this one-liner occurs just when viewers might be cooling down from Van Driessen's gut-busting moment about 45 seconds prior. It's a 1-2 punch that just about leaves us dying in laughter, helpless against B&B's powers.



    #4 "Car Wash" (1993)

    When a new set of animators were commissioned to work on Season 3, Mike Judge felt unsatisfied with the Hanna-Barbara style subtlety in the characters' movements and gestures. "Comedians" b/w "Car Wash" is a great example. It's kind of strange seeing the way the audience applauds at the juggler in "Comedians." In Taint Of Greatness, Mike specifically notes Butthead's gestures in "Car Wash." He's shown shrugging, moving his eyebrows in an unusual manner and waving his hands while describing a plan to Beavis. The creators understood the nuances of classic animation well enough to know that it wasn't appropriate for this show.

    Either way, "Car Wash" is a strange choice for the 4 least favorite episodes. We always thought of "My liver! My liver!" as one of the show's more memorable early moments.

    #3 "Yogurt's Cool" (1993)

    This episode from late in Season 2 was frequently run during Summer '93's weekend Moronathons. The story starts out okay with B&B watching a girl licking a froyo cone in a TV commercial, and it might be the only time Butthead says "Whoa. Huhuh. I'm getting a boner." The rest of the story is pretty bad. They buy yogurt cones at a mall and immediately hate the taste. Instead of returning their money, the store manager pushes the cones in their faces and laughs. B&B get revenge by smearing the yogurt on the walls of the mall. After they run into a mall security guard, the story abruptly switches to a meeting with a high school guidance councilor. This final scene feels like it was pulled from an entirely different episode, and it doesn't refer to the mall sequence at all.

    In the video commentary, Rick James' "Superfreak" and T'Pau's "Heart and Soul" (two of the greatest songs of all time) are both stamped with the official "this sucks" tag. Their assessment of "Heart and Soul" resembling a phone sex commercial seems ok, but the writers might have expanded that concept into more bizarre and sillier areas in a future episode.

    #1 & #2 "Sign Here" b/w "Give Blood" a.k.a. "Blood Drive" (1993)

    Is this episode actually that bad? As mentioned earlier, Mike Judge hates both parts, and was "burying [his] head in the sand" after its premiere. But it was a success anyway. Both parts of the episode start with the TV parodies and fake commercials that became often used throughout the series. There's something to be said when the strength of the characters and the freshness of the format can still generate over a million new fans within 5 days even though it's probably the series' poorest animation quality and includes two of its weakest stories. (To be fair, "Yogurt's Cool" looks worse and has NO story.) The strength of the format itself is noteworthy since it hadn't been attempted on MTV before, and it was the perfect point in history to show cartoon metal fans' negative reactions to Hall & Oates and Huey Lewis. (P.S. We're fans of both artists.)

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