Thursday, November 03, 2011

We need teepee for our TV-hole

Beavis and Butthead returned to MTV last week, and my wife recorded it. I had heard about it, of course, and I had no disinterest in seeing it, but seeing it on the DVR queue was something of of surprise; being MTV I figured it would be something I'd simply come across while flipping through the guide (the digital era equivalent of flipping through channels just to see what's on), which is pretty much how I saw the first incarnation of the show back in the mid-'90s. It wasn't something I sought; it was something I encountered.

There was something about that process of happening upon it and finding it entertaining enough to keep me from changing the channel that, I must admit, elicits a certain level of nostalgia in me. I have extolled the virtue of this time of DVR technology, and do find it amazing compared to the "good ol' days" (which, in this instance, were merely about a decade ago), but there is something about the ease of programming one's own viewing by recording shows that makes recording something like Beavis and Butthead seem not quite right. I won't say it's wrong, but it's merely not applicable to foreplanning with the DVR. It's not, per se, the sort of show where, when scrolling through the hours and hours of shows we have records, it would elicit in us that urgency to watch it when we have so many other options.

The show was essentially a paean to that time when one would watch MTV (or any channel) for hours on end because in the middle of the day there'd be nothing else on. And while it's not that such things cannot still occur, between recorded shows, on-demand, and online content, it's difficult to really feel like there's no other options at any time of day or night.

Some shows are the sort one notices a show is on and has that inspiration to watch it right then, and one can tune in part way through without missing anything (because there's no larger narrative to need to have seen the beginning; Beavis and Butthead was always such a show, because it was mocking the pop culture of the time, and the stories between the mocking were not so convoluted that one could not grasp the plot (or even need to grasp it) to get the jokes. Frankly, sometimes it was better consumed with only seeing a little bit of it at a time.

I presume the new show that premiered last week was in that same vein. I say "presume" because, despite it being right there on the DVR queue, we haven't quite found ourselves inclined to actively choose to watch it. That's the trouble (as it were) with DVRs; there's no level of watching something without intention.

That might be the real reason resurrecting Mike Judge's brilliant idiots won't work for us in 2011: the type of viewing we do now requires a dedication to still want to watch it when it's not merely what is on.

(If you were expecting some analysis of whether the show has any relevance in this age, given how pop culture has changed since the '90s, I must offer only apologies. Obviously I'd need to have actually watched it in order to offer that. I'm sure eventually there'll be some weekend when I'm scrolling the guide for something to occupy a little while between watching recorded shows and MTV will be airing an episode of Beavis and Butthead, and I'll switch to it. Then I'll report back.

Unless some other channel is showing Office Space at the same time, that is.)

1 comment:

  1. What was funny twenty years ago isn't necessarily so funny now.

    ReplyDelete

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