Over the years there have been seven thousand eight hundred and nineteen parodies of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and only one less when it comes to Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and most of them are fairly average indeed. Of course there’s exceptions, The Muppets Christmas Carol is one of the best films ever made and the Moonlighting Christmas special which puts it’s own spin on Capra’s movie is a real delight, but the majority are predictable and fairly bland.
Which is why despite being very fond of Beavis and Butt-Head I wasn’t filled with joy when I discovered that this Christmas Special was divided in to two parts and spoofed both of these far too well known tales. I should have had more faith in Mike Judge and co though as this is easily one of the best takes on the stories, with each offering up an amusingly childish, daft and very, very funny version of these famous works of fiction.
The show’s rendition of A Christmas Carol is first up as we follow Beavis trying to starve off boredom while working at Burgerworld by frying a mouse, but soon even that doesn’t entertain him and a dream sequence kicks in with Butt-Head taking on the Jacob Marley role and explaining “In life I was your partner, but now I’m some dead guy with cool chains…Tonight you’ll see some ghosts, or something”.
And that is indeed what happens as Mr Anderson turns up to show Beavis how he’s wasted his life as a youngster (which includes a surprisingly cute and endearing five year old version of the duo), while Mr Van Driessen attempts to show him where he’s going wrong with his life right now. Finally Coach Bradley Buzzcut arrives to show him the future, in what’s the best segment as it features a Terminator style Butt-head who shoots Beavis in the penis, and Buzzcut almost gets through to Beavis by showing him his gravestone with the words “Here lies Beavis. He never scored” engraved upon it, but of course he fails in the end.
The second part of the episode is called “It’s A Miserable Life”, which yes, isn’t that subtle but it’s just as funny as the first as it begins with the inhabitants of Highland praying to God that they hope Beavis and Butt-Head are killed, and the angels up above decide that their demise wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all. So Guardian Angel Charlie is dispatched to ensure their deaths, first trying to get them blown in the river and then persuading them that the world would be a better place if they’d never been born.
As this is Butt-Head’s time to shine he’s the main character and it’s he who Charlie shows the alternative world too, full of everyone being happy without Butt-Head’s influence on their lives, and Beavis is almost angelic himself as he works with Stuart at a homeless shelter. But of course Butt-Head’s a fundamentally stupid and selfish character so he fails to agree with Charlie that he’s a terrible human being, who inevitably ends up dead himself because this is pleasingly twisted stuff indeed.
Both stories are packed full of some fantastic Christmas-y gags, the show’s trademark tv parodies are a joy (one where Robocop saves Christmas is something I’d pay good money to see a full length version of), and what could have been a lazy, slapdash affair has had a lot of thought and care put in to it. Best of all is that any hint of sentimentality or Christmas cheer is completely lacking, so if you’re looking for a bit of Christmas tv which takes joy in celebrating misery, this is something you’ll get a real kick out of.