The 20 Greatest Liquid Television Segments

By Chris Cummins in Cartoons, Daily Lists, TV
Monday, March 7, 2011 at 8:01 am
14) Winter Steele
Cintra Wilson's Winter Steele made several appearances on Liquid Television (my favorite is embedded above). In these shorts, the titular character -- the toughest puppet to ride a motorcycle since Miss Piggy in The Great Muppet Caper -- goes on a search for her long-lost boyfriend. Predictably, mayhem ensues. In the end, the lovers are reunited (sorta) and the fate of the Lita Ford-esque Winter remains appropriately ambiguous.

13) Bobby and Billy
Pre-Beavis and Butthead, siblings Bobby and Billy were bringing animated chaos to the MTV airwaves in a string of adventures that were the perfect antidote to the saccharine morality of Goofus and Gallant. The pair were junior sociopaths who were more likely to pick up whores and murder their soap box derby opponents than to do their homework and keep their rooms clean. Just ordinary kids really. Harmony Konine never wrote for Highlights, but if he did the Bobby and Billy toons would be the result.

12) Running Man
As a budding anime fan whose world was sufficiently rocked by Akira, the above cartoon (originally a segment in the Neo Tokyo anthology film) was a thing of beauty to behold. Its surprising inclusion in Liquid Television was proof that the show was committed to bringing all types of animation from around the globe to MTV audiences. As Patton Oswalt's recent essay on nerd culture reminds us, today every genre of geekery is accessible instantly. In 1992 when this debuted, not so much. For many an anime-starved teen, when this came on it was a revelation.

11) Uncle Louie
Famed illustrator Drew Friedman made a foray into the world of animation with a number of shorts featuring his Uncle Louie character. Even though the character is a bit of a dick (albeit a lovable one), the Vaudevillian sensibility of these shorts and a distinctive visual style make them stand out. Now if only Friedman would create some animation inspired by his recent Sideshow Freaks book...

10) Miss Lidia's Makeover of the Stars
For the most part, Liquid Television shorts have a timeless quality about them. A notable exception is this skewering of Sinead O'Connor that was probably already dated by the time it originally aired. But I'll forgive the its lack of topicality because it is so hilarious. When Miss Lidia dismisses O'Connor's looks by commenting "such a serious girl to be trapped in the haircut of the funniest stooge," you'll find yourself wishing that Pitchfork's rock criticism was as entertaining. Also, this one gets bonus points for the very Muppety theme music.

9) The Art School Girls of Doom
In the days prior to Rupaul, the only place to see drag queens vamping it up on MTV were in the various Art School Girls of Doom cartoons that blended live action and animation. Having watched the complete run of Liquid Television recently, these toons were the ones that aged the worst. So why are they here? For their cheesy Video Toaster-type effects and their campy humor that would even make Hedwig's angry inch a little less irritable. Also, like many of the entries on this list, The Art School Girls of Doom would make one hell of a great name for an indie rock band.

8) Stick Figure Theater
It's a simple idea really: taking audio culled from films, news reports and music videos ad recreating their images using stick figures drawn and animated on index cards. Throughout Liquid Television's run, the Stick Figure Theater segments spoofed everything from It's a Wonderful Life to Madonna's "Express Yourself." For this entry, I was torn between using the clip for Hindenburg disaster and what you see above. Obviously, cartoon zombies trump historical tragedy.
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