REN & STIMPY
The First and Second Seasons
Review by Gordon Justesen
John Kricfalusi, Billy West
Creator: John Kricfalusi
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 418 Minutes
Release Date: October 12, 2004
and gents, I give you--THE CHEESE-A-PHONE! Now we can talk to cheese anywhere in
the world, regardless of their foreign tongues! Go ahead, Ren, say something in
Ren & Stimpy Show holds a
special place in my heart. Please do not think of me as a disturbed person.
I was in middle
school at the time Nickelodeon aired what would become their edgiest, and
downright crudest, cartoon ever. It was 1991, and the cable channel known as The
First Network For Kids was looking for fresh animated material to accompany a
weekly time slot. The people at Nick were more than impressed at the fresh
animated work of the show's creator, John Kricfalusi.
& Stimpy got accepted into the Nickelodeon market in the first place is
kind of puzzling. My guess is the network wasn't afraid to aim gross out gags at
young ones. The level of crude humor in the show wasn't by any means suggestive
or extreme. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, the show never got slapped with any
sort of controversy from the likes of concerned parents. All of the concern was
perhaps savored for MTV's Beavis and
Butthead, which premiered not too long after Nick's cartoon, which was
harmless by comparison.
Ren & Stimpy Show has earned
its labeling of the most demented animated show ever created with flying colors.
It's one of those shows where you simply had to accept it on its own terms. The
plot lines made no sense, and the gags ranged from the gross out to the purely
bizarre. In other words, you need to have a seriously warped sense of humor in
order to enjoy it. Thankfully, I happen to have just that.
The best way to
describe Ren & Stimpy is a warped
take on The Odd Couple, though in the
end I'm not sure which one would resemble Felix or Oscar. Ren Hoek is an overly
tense chihuahua with a short fuse, while Stimpy is a fat cat with an IQ of
around…well….negative 150. They happen to live with each other, even though
Ren can't stand Stimpy's rampant stupidity. But, if Ren did something about
that…well, then there'd be no show now would there?
To give you a
better idea of each character's persona; Ren's dialect closely resembles Peter
Lorre, while Stimpy seems to have channeled the voice of Larry Fine of The Three
Among the duo's
deranged adventures during the first and second seasons, no fan can ever forget
the show's spoof of Star Trek. The
space adventures of Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy resulted in the most pivotal
laughs of the series. One of the early episodes, titled Space
Madness, has Ren slowly going insane to the point where he fears Stimpy is
turning against him. The conclusion involving the History Eraser Button is
episodes in this collection include In the
Army, where the two enlist in the military and The Great Outdoors in which our heroes endure a horrific camping
trip. Two forever classics are two early episodes, Big House Blues which chronicles Ren and Stimpy's stint in a dog
shelter, and Stimpy's Invention, where
in which Stimpy tries to cure Ren's anger by applying an invention called The
Happy Helmet. This particular episode features the monumental dance number to
"Happy Happy, Joy Joy!", a phrase that was incorporated into the show
One episode stands
out in the opening season, and that is Sven
Hoek, probably because it took the show to the highest level of stupidity
possible. It tells of Ren's visiting cousin, Sven from Sweden. Ren's excited
about the visit, until he realizes that Sven shares something in common with
Stimpy, endless stupidity. This episode included a bit of advice I've followed
ever since I've watched it, and that is to never wiz on the electric fence.
To put it
succinctly, The Ren & Stimpy Show
is deranged animated brilliance, courtesy of the fresh animated vision of
creator John K. I have yet to grow out of my admiration for the dimwitted
adventures of the hyperactive chihuahua and the dumbest cat on earth (you hear
that, Garfield--you're a has been!), and I don't believe I will anytime soon,
thanks to the show's timely arrival on DVD.
My to my surprise,
the animated look which I thought would be a challenge to perfect on this format
turned out to be very well handled. Some episodes fare better than others. The
latter portion of the season fares mostly better as there are distinct
differences between the animated motion of early shows and later ones.
Nevertheless, the entire season looks impressive. Colors, no matter how bizarre
it's displayed, is quiet strong and helps to provide eye gazing shots. Fans of
the series are certain to be well beyond impressed.
Here's something I
really wasn't expecting. The 2.0 channel mix provided on this release manages to
make more of an effect than would have ever expected it to. The show's opening
theme alone sounds better than ever, and it gets the channels rockin' and a
rollin'. The distinct music cues that were most frequent in the show sound
incredible, too. Word delivery is a plus, as well. A marvelously well handled
supplied a wonderful package that is certain to delight all fans of the series.
First off, I found the packaging alone to be something of a delight. The extras
are well handled as they are spread evenly across three discs. There is selected
episode commentary from the original animation team, a featurette titled
"In the Beginning", a never aired episode titled "Man's Best
Friend", a pencil test on the Sven Hoek episode, and a storyboard and image
gallery. In addition, several episodes have been upgraded to an Uncut
status--making the laughs an even bit more suggestive than before.