There was a time when cartoons were pretty much limited to 30 minute toy adverts. We call this the 1980s. Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course, but this was how the world was.
Then along came The Simpsons and that pretty much changed everything. Here was a animated TV show that the adults were enjoying just as much if not more than the kids. In the wake of The Simpsons we had things like Beavis & Butthead, King of The Hill and The Critic, shows that were animated but aimed at a more mature audience.
Alright, not all of these were as successful as The Simpsons but there was an audience for these kind of shows.
MTV, following the success of Beavis and Butthead, produced a half hour block of animation called MTV’s Oddities, which included The Maxx (which we will come back to another day) and the show I want to talk about, The Head.
Now, The Head was a weird show. Let’s get that clear right away. It told the story of an alien, Roy, who came to Earth in order to save the it from another alien and took up residence in the head of Jim, a young student. And by took up residence, I mean lived inside his head. And not by shrinking himself, Jim’s head was made large enough for Roy to live inside. The two of them then tried to save the world and generally become heroes.
The look of the show only amplified this weirdness, the style being roughly similar to Beavis but very much ploughing it’s own furrow. It was quite grotesque in place, with a vibe not that far away from early Cronenberg or Lynch.
The first season of the show had the running theme of t2he alien invasion but also had Jim meeting up with other ‘human anomalies’ like the guy who had his mouth in his chest. The characterisation in the show was great which, despite the surreal tone, always felt real. Jim’s lack of self confidence and his faltering relationship with his love interest gave the show a great emotional core that wasn’t there in many other shows.
It lasted two seasons on MTV, the second dispensing with the serial nature of the first season which also meant that it wasn’t as successful. It was also somewhat overshadowed by The Maxx which had a more visceral look to it. And that was that, gone. The show is rarely repeated these days but is available on DVD, in America at least.
The show stuck with me, initially down to the look of the show but after that due to how well it was written. It was funny and had great characters. It’s not a comedy powerhouse like Family Guy or The Simpsons but it has it’s own niche and deserves a wider re-release on DVD. Or at least some brave soul should get some episodes uploaded to YouTube. There isn’t really been a show like The Head since it finished and that is a real shame.