TV & Radio
TV Review: Beavis and Butt-head return while Louis Theroux investigates autism
This week we were pleasantly surprised by the return of Beavis and Butt-head, while Louis Theroux continued his tackling of difficult subjects with Extreme Love - Autism.
“Be careful what you wish for” is a common saying but in the case of Beavis and Butt-head, which originally ran on MTV from 1992 to 1995, waiting fifteen years led to a mixture of expectation in the ensuing hype and belief it would never return.
This week, however, the potty-mouth duo returned to our screens and thankfully, it felt as though they had never left. In fact, the show itself had wisely decided not to age their characters a bit, while smartly adding to their their trademark music video critiques with those of MTV reality TV shows.
Originally broadcast in October 2011, the first episode of the new Beavis and Butt-head (MTV, Monday, 10pm) largely focused on what has become a pop culture punching bag – Twilight. Yet Twilight being mocked by these two actually felt like a fresh experience, or at least it felt as though we’d been waiting to hear for their take on things.
For the episode itself, Beavis and Butt-head decided that since teenage girls everywhere have fallen for vampires, they too must become the supernatural figures. To that end, they rather unwisely allow a homeless man to bite several chunks out of them before waiting for their “ werewolf powers” to kick in.
The story was interspersed with the welcome return of the aforementioned TV critique, which memorably featured Butt-head sarcastically stating after Jersey Shore’s Snooki had told the camera “Like, hello? I’m a slut”, “That’s how she answers the phone…”
As is typical of the show, there were two main episodes within the half-hour, with the second storyline concerning Butthead’s endless mocking of Beavis for crying as they watched a TV show. It was a relatively weaker segment and rather lazily plotted but provided a lot more laughs due to creator and voice talent Mike Judge’s comedic timing.
So while the return of Beavis and Butt-head wasn’t quite the TV event some had hyped, it’s important to remember that while the original series caught the zeitgeist and led to a fantastic movie, the show was always a late night guilty pleasure, rather than unmissable TV.
With that in mind, had viewers kept their expectations in check, it’s difficult to see how they could’ve possibly been disappointed by this return, which will likely be several shades better than the not-so-anticipated return of another TV hit later this year, Dallas.
BBC interviewer Louis Theroux has long since walked away from his ‘Weird Weekend’ past and produced some of the most compelling and uncomfortable documentaries in TV over the years and his latest was no exception.
After visiting horrendous US prisons and shacking up with the most despicable family in America, the Westboro Baptist Church, Theroux has two 'Extreme Love' TV specials planned, the first of which, Louis Theroux: Extreme Love – Autism (BBC 2, Thursday, 9pm), was broadcast this week.
While the programme did focus on the DLC Warren autism school in New Jersey - which cost $54 million to develop, this was a show that did not try to provide any easy redemptive arc for its subject matter. Instead it at times an unflinching look at parents with autistic children and the family life the kids inhabit.
In one particularly tough scene, a 13-year-old named Joey, who was prone to bouts of shrieking and violent tantrums, had to be violently restrained by his mother. When a visibly uncomfortable Theroux asked if he wanted the crew to stop filming, Joey's mother replied: "No. I want people to see what autism is really like."
While there were lighter moments, including a 19-year-old subject turning the tables on interview Louis by Googling him mid-interview, this was an affecting and unmissable watch. Next week Theroux tackles Dementia in what is sure to be another essential night of TV.