By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
As Seen on TV!
Your Tivo won't tell you who shot J.R. — DVDs will!
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Loosely categorized as a children's show, The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993-'96) followed the benignly surreal lives of two redheaded brothers with matching names. With plenty of adult fans still fueling an online cult following, Nickelodeon finally acquiesced and started releasing DVDs last year. (Seasons 1 and 2 are available now, with the final installment slated for a February 28 release.)
To the unfamiliar, the show must be a strange animal. Its creators seemed to have sidestepped conventional test marketing, instead catering to weirdos and outcasts. This was television for the kids who listened to They Might Be Giants and would later commiserate with Freaks & Geeks. Perhaps inevitably, the show never gained mainstream popularity because it was too hip: The likes of LL Cool J, Juliana Hatfield, and Deborah Harry would drop by to play citizens of Wellsville.
While it's never a bad idea to start from the beginning, the second season features one of the series' biggest turns, marking the farewell of Little Pete's personal superhero Artie, the Strongest Man in the World, with a two-part episode. On the upside, it also introduced Steve Buscemi and Iggy Pop as warmhearted, if funny-looking, suburban dads. —Lindsey Thomas
Aeon Flux—The Complete
Created by Korean-American animator Peter Chung and inspired by the artwork of Austrian artist Egon Schiele as well as Japanese anime, Aeon Flux first appeared on MTV's Liquid Television animation showcase in 1991. The show was spare on dialogue and heavy on stylized violence and gore, an entrancing revelation to this writer whose animation exposure thus far had mostly involved animals wearing bow ties and cracking jokes.
You could appreciate the show without paying much attention to the precise plot. Week after week, a statuesque assassin from the anarchist country of Monica led gory missions to infiltrate the neighboring land of Bregna. Ultimately, the success or failure of these missions didn't make a whit of difference to the show's stylish dystopia; Flux has a habit of dying, only to reappear in the next episode, intact and ready for her next adventure.
Now available in one potent megadose, the collection contains three DVDs featuring the Liquid Television shorts and the 10 1995 "third season" 30-minute episodes, as well as featurettes, production art, and other works by Peter Chung. Surely it's a coincidence that this geek fetish object appears on store shelves at the same time as Aeon Flux hits the big screen in a live-action movie starring Charlize Theron. Some foot soldier in Sony marketing can claim mission accomplished. —Corey Anderson
After School Specials: Autographs, Class of '81-'82
Brentwood Home Video
Twenty-five years after creating a generation of martyrs, the "after school special" remains the term we invoke to describe anything in the problem-child pantheon, from a latchkey kid forced to hang with the ruffians to the wunderkind football player gorging on a diet of steroids. This two-disc set of award-winning episodes from 1981-'82 not only invented a new terminology, but spawned an entire channel. Where would After School Specials' ugly stepsister, the Lifetime Network, be without these victims of neglect, alcohol abuse, self-hatred, and parental loss? On that note, where would Tori Spelling be?
Oddly, these four stories aren't how you remember (or imagine) them—edifying tales on par with 1950s filmstrips about hygiene and snowball-dance etiquette and boozy driving disasters. To start, they're more gut-wrenchingly depressing than they are hokey or ironic. (If you don't get choked up a little during "A Matter of Time," when a girl loses the mother who barely knows her, you have a steroid heart). Instead, these are little cultural artifacts that remind us how teens were perceived during the divorce decade, before tough love and Reagan-era ideology turned them into dolts who brought everything on themselves. —Molly Priesmeyer
"Time sucks," declares Butt-Head, as he and his ever-present companion watch the gas meter outside the house, waiting, waiting, waiting for something good to come on TV. And he's right, though for now, time seems to be on his side. Beavis and Butt-Head is enjoying a second wave of popularity, with reruns on Comedy Central and heavy advertising for this, the first of three sets of "The Mike Judge Collection." According to the show's creator, the discs will contain the two-thirds of the series that doesn't completely suck. Though including "director's cut" episodes that are actually shorter than those that appeared on TV...well, it does seem like something that an ass muncher would do.
Indeed, basic cable might still be your best bet for catching this underrated (except by adolescent boys) show. The extras here aren't too exciting, except for the one that shouldn't be considered an "extra" at all: the paltry 11 examples of the music video clips with B&B commentary that formed the heart of the show. Yeah, I know, licensing issues, blah blah blah.... But seeing the few video clips reminds you that a lot of the best comedy comes when the boys are doing what they do best: watching TV. Such as when they surmise that "that Pantera dude" must have gotten his ass kicked by his dad a lot as a kid: "Dammit, Pantera, this beer's warm! Get me another one!"