An annoying buzz from MTV

June 13, 1996|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The newest MTV series, "Buzzkill," is prefaced by a viewer advisory, like the same network's "Beavis and Butt-head." The conspiratorial and playful tone is the same; only the words are different.

"These are covert recordings of real pranks done to real people in real situations," warns the "Buzzkill" advisory. "Do not try any of this at home."

Not to worry.

The only people who might think of trying any of this stuff at home would be Beavis and Butt-head themselves. In fact, if you turned those cartoon buffoons into flesh and blood and sent them out in a van full of props and costumes to pull some practical jokes, you'd pretty much wind up with "Buzzkill."

"Buzzkill," which gets a sneak preview at 11tonight after the "MTV Movie Awards," has three terminal pranksters, not two. Travis Draft, Frank Hudetz and Dave Sheridan have hit the road to accomplish the same mission: to meld the sensibility of "The Jerky Boys" (that is to say, no sensibility at all, except for in-your-face aggression) with the gimmick of "Candid Camera" (stage pranks on unsuspecting victims).

In theory, "Buzzkill" sounds like a perfect MTV show, especially during the hazy days of summer. What happens with the pilot episode, at least, is that the budget commitment and the level of ad libs seem equally low, and "Buzzkill" is neither as smart nor as funny as it ought, and needs, to be.

The opener, set on the streets of Miami Beach, presents three major segments.

In Prank 1, the trio impersonates some well-meaning, but intolerably cautious, safety instructors. In Prank 2, they pretend to be photographers chasing celebrities at hot area clubs. In Prank 3, the most ambitious and best of the lot, they pass one of themselves (Hudetz) off as designer Isaac Mizrahi and stage a fashion show on the beach, using gullible people as models and observers.

The first prank falls flat and is incomplete. Once it succeeds in irritating its selected victims, it never shows them being let in on the joke -- which must have happened for them to end up on TV.

The second prank is stupid in every sense, from superimposed misspellings to lame ad libs (calling a bald guy Yul Brynner, in 1996, is as lazy as a joke can get).

The third, with a fashion show in which models wear garment bags and bathroom mats, at least includes some visual humor, )) as well as a clear take on the excesses granted to celebrity eccentrics. But even here, there's no evidence that any of the three "Buzzkill" pranksters is remotely humorous in his own right.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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