Originally created 02/19/01

'[filtered word]' is dumb, idiotic fun



As moronic as it is, "[filtered word]" (9 p.m. Sunday, MTV) is cable television's biggest guilty pleasure, and that's saying a lot. Certainly, it ranks up there with "Beavis & Butthead" in its sheer spectrum of stupidity.

However, when it comes down to accomplishing its goals, there are few comedies on television that do it as well. There is no pretense here.

This show is meant to be the dumbest, and it succeeds exceedingly well.

Sunday night marks the first of eight new episodes - and just in time for its legion of bleary-eyed fans.

Having only made eight episodes the first time around, MTV has exhausted the show's welcome by wearing out its repeats.

By now, even the most ardent fan has memorized every detail of the eight. Sunday's new episode shows there are still more insipid moments to be created.

Among the best bits: host Johnny Knoxville stands against a wall and lets schoolchildren kick him in the groin. He wears protection, though it isn't enough to keep him from falling to his knees in pain. This is, after all, how he makes his living.

As if that wasn't enough agony, he then allows a sledgehammer to be pointed at his cup. Later, a golf ball and paint balls are aimed at the same spot.

In other notable segments of idiotic merit ("idiotic," of course, in the nicest possible use of the term), two hockey players bring their fight to the streets and a department store, much to the horror of onlookers.

Another guy squirts a worm out of his nose.

The opening stunt has Knoxville in a huge box and thrown down a flight of concrete stairs. It comes with Knoxville's own preface: "Don't try this at home." Of course, this is the kind of stunt most boys have been doing for centuries anyway.

Why I laugh at this show until my stomach hurts is a mystery. It comes from the same place that makes me laugh at The Three Stooges.

There are a few segments that don't give the same payoff. A skateboarding exercise in which Knoxville and a cohort slide down a hilly street isn't nearly as fun to watch as it was to do.

For old-fashioned shock value, you can't get as basic as this.

As controversial as the half hour has become for its influence on youngsters (who should be in bed by the time this airs), this program doesn't do anything new.

Kids have been doing this kind of stupidity behind their parents' backs for years. Only difference is, this show has a camera recording adults doing it.

Maybe the fact this show captures the spirit of juvenile hijinks so well and so simply is the reason that millions keep tuning in.

It's not clear, however, if spending time laughing at dummies makes us any better than they are. In the end, maybe it's the guy getting kicked around by eager schoolchildren who is getting the last, best laugh.



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