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Fall TV: 'Beavis and Butt-Head' on MTV

Mike Judge revives his dementedly animated teens from the '90s. Let's see what they have to say about 'Jersey Shore' and 'Teen Wolf.'

September 11, 2011|By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times
  • Animator, writer and director Mike Judge.
Animator, writer and director Mike Judge. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Whoever believes wisdom increases with age may be in for a reality check if they come across the return of MTV's resident idiots, "Beavis and Butt-Head."

Almost two decades have passed since the animated duo first sat on a dingy couch in their living room and fired off insults at each other and music videos playing on their run-down TV. It's a different world now, but the more things change, the more Beavis and Butt-Head have stayed the same — they're still teens, they still wear AC/DC and Metallica T-shirts, and they're still dumb as rocks. And no, they have not yet "scored" with any girls.

Fans of the comedy already know what's coming next:

"Heh-heh-heh. Cool. Heh-heh-heh." Cue maniacal laughter.

New episodes of "Beavis and Butt-Head" will debut Oct. 27 on MTV, the cable network where music videos ruled before being sidelined by outrageous reality shows and glossy teen fare. The teens, who have been off MTV since 1997, are reentering an arena of edgy animation that they helped build and that is now filled with hits such as "Family Guy" and "South Park." The series will be part of MTV's new animation block that will include a coming-of-age series, "Good Vibes."

Leading the comeback is "Beavis and Butt-Head" creator Mike Judge, who is circling back to his first major success after making a splash with Fox's long-running animated series "King of the Hill" and big-screen live-action comedies ("Office Space," "Idiocracy" and "Extract"). This time around, the boys' principal targets will be MTV shows such as "Jersey Shore," "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Wolf" rather than music videos.

Slipping back into the silly vibe of Beavis and Butt-Head was effortless for the 48-year-old Judge, the executive producer and voice for both characters.

"They're pretty pure — it's like a state of mind," said Judge, nursing a bit of a cold as he sipped tea at the MTV Networks' Santa Monica offices. One of his writers had the perfect way to get into the mood: "Go to that place in your mind where thoughts begin and just stay there."

The boys' lack of connection to the changing culture turned out to be a plus.

"They were not necessarily relevant when we started — it's not like they had trendy haircuts or outfits, they didn't have trendy phrases," Judge said. "So now they look the same, although the world has changed around them. They were kind of surreal to begin with, so it doesn't seem wrong for them to step into the modern world."

As he talked, Judge displayed his typical low-key demeanor, which sharply contrasts with other animation moguls such as Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy," "The Cleveland Show") and Trey Parker and Matt Stone ("South Park"), who appear comfortable in the spotlight. Judge doesn't: He seemed a bit squeamish when he appeared as a guest on David Letterman's late-night show during the '90s, even though Letterman was a gushing fan of "Beavis and Butt-Head."

But discussing the daffy duo these days is well within Judge's comfort zone: "When everything is right, 'Beavis and Butt-Head' is the best thing I do. It's the funniest thing I do and the most satisfying."

The idea of bringing them back has been percolating for a long time.

"Over the years I thought about different things, but it wasn't until this time last year that I really considered doing it," Judge said. "I had thought about doing a sequel to the movie [1996's 'Beavis and Butt-Head Do America'], but then it seemed like doing a bunch of episodes would be more fun and less pressure than doing an entire movie."

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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