This morning, we were intrigued and (cautiously) excited to read that Mike Judge may just be preparing a whole new round of Beavis and Butt-head episodes for MTV. Since all things are cyclical, we wonder whether this might mean a winding down of the network’s reality-TV obsession, a return to scripted programming, and, since the pair’s famous music video critiques are an essential part of the show, a platform for actual music to appear on MTV. But mostly, we just can’t get enough of those dimwitted cartoon teens. In fact, we’re thinking that in this age of Whitney Port, the only way to revive MTV is to resurrect some of its classic series. After the jump, 10 shows from the network’s halcyon days that need to make a comeback.
120 Minutes (1986-2003) We grew up with this show, staying up late in middle school to nurture our burgeoning indie rock obsession. Most popular in the early ’90s, when Nirvana ushered punk into the mainstream, the series packed two full hours with bizarre, underground videos you couldn’t see anywhere else. (This was before YouTube, remember.) And it was hosted for much of its run by MTV’s famously knowledgeable, nerdy fanboy VJ Matt Pinfield. Since the ’90s seem to be making a comeback and indie rock is more diverse and popular than ever, we think it’s time 120 Minutes made another go of it. Watch: A wackadoo Johnny Rotten interview from 1987
Singled Out (1995-1998) If there were justice in the world, funny Singled Out host Chris Hardwick would still be a household name while Jenny McCarthy, the show’s raunchy Vanna White, would be but a memory. Instead, she’s a world-famous nutty anti-vaccination activist with a quadrillion Twitter followers. Anyway. We loved Singled Out back in the day for its crass take on the dating meat market, and we would far prefer to watch new episodes of this show than, say, the further romantic adventures of McCarthy’s fellow conspiracy theorist, Tila Tequila. Watch: A classic 1995 elimination round
House of Style (1989-2000) In the age of the supermodel, music met fashion on House of Style. The venerable Cindy Crawford was the show’s first host, followed by the likes of Rebecca Romijn, Amber Valetta, and Daisy Fuentes. Just thinking about House of Style makes us nostalgic for a time when fashion on TV was more than just tiresome makeover programs. And the series will always have a special place in our heart for featuring Pat Smear — punk legend and guitarist for The Germs and Nirvana — as correspondent. Watch: A 1992 segment on female musicians and fashion, featuring Lady Miss Kier, Salt-n-Pepa, and one Paula Abdul
Undressed (1999-2002) Sure, this show about the sex lives of teens and young adults was kind of trashy. But the nighttime soap with a rotating cast was also one of the first TV series for young people to realistically portray same-sex relationships and deal frankly with taboo subjects. It was also one of the first TV shows to feature Mad Men phenomenon Christina Hendricks. And, let’s face it, now that we have “sexting,” don’t the kids need a show like this? Watch: Hendricks + Sneaker Pimps’ “6 Underground”
Remote Control (1987-1990) Remote Control was MTV’s first non-music series. After it, the deluge. But that’s no reason to hate on a show that posed pop culture questions through wonderfully lo-fi skits and featured such players as host Ken Ober, Adam Sandler (back when he was awesome), and Denis Leary. And let’s not forget that it was all set in a grown manchild’s basement, where contestants competed from the comfort of La-Z-Boy recliners. Watch: A clip from the very first episode. Check out those ’80s sweatshirts!
Daria (1997-2002) We are huge fans of Daria around here. Thank God it is finally available on DVD. This Beavis and Butt-head spinoff was one of the best TV comedies about high school ever. We would love to see a revival that picks up with Daria in college or as, say, a world-famous, witheringly critical blogger. (Hey, we can dream…) Watch: The opening few minutes of the Daria musical episode
The Sifl and Olly Show (1997-1999) So, maybe they were just sock puppets. But Sifl and Olly were pretty damn funny sock puppets, voiced by Liam Lynch and Matt Crocco. We especially loved their Home Shopping Network spoofs. Although the show was canceled due to low viewership, the characters lived on at Lynch’s podcast. Since it seems there hasn’t been a new episode for a while, maybe it’s time to give TV another try? Watch: “Llama School” video
Al TV (1984-2006) This occasional series, which ran everywhere from one to four hours, popped up every few years — basically whenever “Weird Al” Yankovic had a new album to shill. While his parodies are always the centerpiece, he also makes an excellently wacky talk-show host, full of screwball skits and faux celeb interviews. Since he’s got more charm than any of MTV’s current VJs, we’d like to see the network give him a regular time slot. Watch: Al “interviews” Ozzy Osbourne
The State (1993-1995) There is no way we can do justice to The State, the sketch show that launched the careers of Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, David Wain, and other great comedians. It was a too-short-lived Saturday Night Live for Generation X. And it sure faired better on cable than most of its troupe’s post-State TV endeavors. Although we fear this was a “right place, right time” kind of show, we certainly wouldn’t minding see the guys give it another shot. Watch: If cereal commercials were as dumb as their subtext
Æon Flux (1995) Cult classic Æon Flux debuted as part of MTV’s wonderful animation series Liquid Television. Its futuristic, sci-fi premise and ass-kicking heroine may have made it a hard sell, but we imagine fans everywhere have spent the last 15 years hungering for more of this surrealist cartoon. Watch: The show’s awesome opening sequence. “I am the edge”!