?In the ’90s, MTV was airing a handful of racy, gritty, often gut-busting cartoons, and while Beavis and Butthead ruled, shows like MTV Oddities were totally absurd. But awesome, to say the least. The Maxx, one part of the Oddities, became an animated series, or a 13-episode acid trip.
Indeed, it’s a weird show – like its brainy half, The Head – and MTV gets points for following the first dozen issues of the comic. Reflecting all the crazy-ass artwork and dialogue by Sam Keith and Bill Messner-Loebs, the series revolves around the hulking Maxx, freelance social worker Julie Winters, and Mr. Gone, a man equal parts serial killer, rapist and omniscient intellectual. Sadly, the series had a short run, but it offered a subconscious superhero roaming Pangaea and smashing noisy homunculi, among other weirdness. Get ready – these eight episodes are far from sobering.
8) Episode 2
After leaving Julie’s place, Maxx chases down a suspicious Isz, encountering the mystic artist Mr. Gone on the roof of a gas station, and realizing that the white Isz turn evil(er) when they cross into reality. Mr. Gone, annoyed, says, “Too bad. I really hate killing amnesiacs.” The weirdness is just getting started, friends.
Notable line: “I feel really existential today. Like Darby O’Gill and the Little People or somethin.'” – Glorie, teenager
7) Episode 3
Julie, meanwhile, is captured by Isz and locked up in Gone’s hideout, the Bulldog Jar Rubber Factory. This is where Episode 3 takes a witty turn. Gone tries to terrify Julie as she sits in a shadowy room. But even though she is tied up and dressed in a bunny suit, she snips his proverbial balls: “Oh, please, let me guess. I’m supposed to be dressed as every cheerleader and prom queen who ever turned you down for a date, and when I beg and whimper, you finally achieve some tawdry sexual revenge.” And then she beheads him with an Isz tooth, while her subconscious self beheads a doll.
Notable line: “I’m not the one who wears underwear outside her clothes.” – Mr. Gone
6) Episode 6
Sarah, catching a ride from the two, considers suicide when Maxx slaughters a pair of car-jacking Isz disguised as spotted-underwear-wearing thugs. “Nothing makes sense. And if it does makes sense, then it’s all gotta stop,” she says, holding a gun. Surprisingly, she quickly accepts that things will get better, believing Maxx and Julie. Of course, a sociopath would do that. Of course.
Just like everything else in the animated series, Maxx’s origin isn’t quite clear. In part two of this episode, the neighborhood kids speculate his being. “Nah, I bet he’s an artificial being created in a secret government experiment … with plastic muscles and steel bones,” one says. Maxx, donned in bum attire, offers his version: A wayward Average Joe found a mask, put it on, and woke up in a place like the Outback.
Notable line: “Sometimes I think this whole growing-up business is just pain management.” – Maxx
5) Episode 8
At the same time, Julie, knocked out by a stupid tow-truck driver, finds herself in a deep layer of her subconscious, where Little Julie and a dark Jungle Queen reside. Yes, she starts to understand the symbols she’s responsible for – the baby leopards, the Jungle Queen, Maxx, the Pangaea dreamscape – and the world starts to make a little more sense.
Notable line: “Did you know they cancelled Cheers? Yeah, Julie told me the other day. I know all the people who were played by actors … it’s like they all died for no reason.” – Maxx
4) Episode 9
As he subdues the Isz, Sarah drags in the conniving piece of clay that convinced her to drop it off at Julie’s apartment. While Julie is still locked in bathroom, her subconscious self in the Outback starts to remember her childhood, when she became a “jungle queen, ruler of a vast domain,” and when her pet bunny died. Of course, a miniature Mr. Gone, who is waiting to strike her with a poisonous arrow, doesn’t want Julie to connect the dots.
Notable line: “I know about the latitude and longitude of people. I know about the secret fault lines of their souls.” – Mr. Gone as the talking piece of clay.
3) Episode 11
Later, Mr. Gone guides us to Julie’s apartment, where she and the sociopathic teenager Sarah open a bag containing Mr. Gone’s severed head. “It’s just my … dad,” says Sarah, assuming that a block of clay literally was communicating with her. Oops, indeed.
Notable line: “Mr. Gone. Boy, I wish I could get a hold of that slime ball. I’d break his spine, just like Shadowhawk.” – neighborhood kid
2) Episode 7
Maxx argues with the Crappon as the frog flies around on a bicycle, defending his reason for becoming the Maxx. At the same time, Maxx holds a goldfish bowl and evades blue Isz-like beings, or his “fears.” The burning question is whether Maxx bears a rabbit head under that mask.
Notable line: “This is getting quite deep, and I’m starting to fear … I’ll be drowned in an ocean of diet root beer.” – Maxx
1) Episode 12
While there is an air of hilarity behind Julie’s moving day, most scenes in this episode are super-creepy. Gone, as a doctor sews his rotten head back on, tells us a fairy tale, which is really a recounting of Julie’s disturbing childhood, how it went from a sunny to dark one because of a dying rabbit. Pay attention, kids, because it explains most of Julie’s symbols! Her mother kills the bunny with a shovel, scarring Julie’s mind, and giving the girl a lesson about suppression. “That’s how our little story ends, doc,” Gone concludes. “Not with a bang, or a whimper, but with a thwack.” Nice T.S. Eliot ref!
Notable line: “Oh, and doc, don’t go all tense on me just because there’s a small army of Isz waiting behind that door. It’s not like they’re going to devour you once you finish sewing my head back on.” – Mr. Gone