Beavis And Butt-Head: “Copy Machine”/“Holding”
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Beavis And Butt-Head: “Copy Machine”/“Holding”

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Beavis And Butt-Head

“Copy Machine”/“Holding”

Season 1, Episode 8

Like the object of Vanessa Williams’ affection, Mike Judge went and saved the best for last. Or penultimate, as it were. Tonight’s warm-up for next week’s season finale was crisp, hilarious, light and ridiculous. All of these are, naturally, optimal ingredients for quality Beavis And Butt-Head.

During “Copy Machine,” while catching up with True Life: I Have A Fetish, Beavis unleashes his/Judge’s interpretation of a growling hardcore singer/restaurant host barking out directives to waiting customers. (It makes sense in context.) It’s the show’s funniest moment since returning and one of several spit-takes in that very scene alone, never mind the episode’s cumulative 22 minutes. 

There is very little in the way of serious social commentary between both “Copy Machine” and Holding.” Not that there could or should be when the plots involve Beavis getting his ass stuck in the school copy machine and white-trash porn stars mistaking he and Butt-Head for meth dealers, respectively. 

For once, our misfit icons aren’t the biggest idiots in the room. In “Holding,” that honor would belong to the aspiring XXX auteur rolling film out of his mom’s basement and arguing with his assistant over what’s a better use of their budget: drugs or “a dual-band, HD-streaming router” (that cracked me up). When the cops show up in a raid, even poor mom—who’s been heard but not seen up to that point—gets arrested in her bathrobe. It’s a great, slightly mean-spirited kicker, and one that admirably requires extra animation for a small but memorable sight gag.

“Copy Machine” aims its satirical weaponry in the direction of local newscasts, a favorite target of Judge’s, as we saw just last week in “Doomsday.” Now, the generic network correspondent is on the scene at Highland High School, where Beavis manages to get his ass stuck in the copy machine (despite infectiously chanting “Do not copy my butt” to himself the entire time) and, possibly, shards of glass stuck in his rectum. Even when Beavis escapes, with no damage to what Butt-Head describes as his “female artery,” the reporter lingers, stretching it into a feature on the dangers of mishap-induced rectal bleeding. Or, as a resident medical expert puts it, “He will not only be scarred rectally, he will be scarred psychologically as well.” 

At the risk of overstating things, “Copy Machine” is an especially great example of how Judge has gotten better as a storyteller in the years since B And B first went off the air, and how it serves him 14 years later, even if he’s merely sketching additional chapters in the lives of two teenage simpletons. “Copy Machine” has a beginning and an ending that complete each other (Beavis falling for Butt-Head’s peer pressure after his ordeal and copying his butt again is just perfect), and introduces the right amount of supporting humor and distraction within the margins. All the bit parts tonight get big laughs, from the aforementioned half-assed porn crew and cops in “Holding” to the foxy science teacher who earnestly reasons aloud that sawing Beavis out of the copier isn’t an option because the school would be liable. 

By now, Beavis And Butt-Head 2.0 has successfully distinguished itself from what Judge produced back in 1993-97. Butt-Head is still a hormonal, borderline illiterate menace to no one, but he’s also become quite the eloquent armchair critic in an era of pop-culture know-it-alls. Just revisit his voice-over during Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” video, which he imagines as a metaphor for virtual masturbation, an area in which he fears “the Chinese are killing us.” Beavis, of course, is still completely ADD and not exactly a leader of men, but has also become, by turns, hysterically indignant and slightly more Zen. After getting put in the squad car at the close of “Holding,” despite having once again failed to score, he reflects to Butt-Head, “You know, I always imagined my first time would be like this.” If anything, we’re the ones who probably never imagined that Beavis And Butt-Head’s second life could be this rewarding.

Stray observations:

  • Wow, there are a lot of good one-liners. In no specific order of hilarity: “Oh good, she’s gone, now I can get back to FootTube.” “What do you say we go over to airport security and watch people take their shoes off?” “Welcome to your final resting place.” “Eh.” “Kramer, party of three, your table is ready.” “You’re gonna die.” “You have now masturbated. Congratulations.” “I wonder if after you’re done, you can use that helmet to watch Meet The Fockers or something.” “The moon.” Beavis: “There’s a law of intelligence?” Butt-Head: “Yeah, you better hire a lawyer, Beavis.” “So are they actually at Dave & Busters?” “Eat, drink, play.” “Okay, now come get your tokens guys.” “Luckily, I sleep in the smoosh room.”
  • I love that there are new recurring characters, like the uptight, young science teacher—and that old favorites, like McVicker, seem back for good.
  • Can’t go wrong with a classic “Come to Butt-Head” invocation. 
  • I really wish the videos would always be as lengthy as the Benassi clip. They sure do shine during them.
  • Do you guys agree that the show hit a peak tonight? If not, what was your favorite episode?
  • Next week’s the finale, so see ya then, and thanks for reading and chatting this whole season.