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REN & STIMPY
Seasons 3 and a Half-ish

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: John Kricfalusi, Billy West, Gary Owens
Creator: John Kricfalusi
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 373 Minutes
Release Date: June 28, 2005

“HEY, REN, GUESS WHAT.”

“I’m going to have to…KEEL YOU?”

“Maybe.”

Shows ****

The psychopathic Chihuahua and dim bulb fat cat are back for more mischief and mayhem in The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons Three and a Half-ish. No other TV show has merited a better title for a DVD package. I’ve already been informed that the already titled Season 5 and more of 4 has been slated for release later this year.

What’s even more interesting is the back story on these episodes, mostly regarding series creator John Kricfalusi. As it turns out, John K., along with his company, Spumco, left the series in late 1993 over a disagreement with network Nickelodeon over the direction the show was going in. With the network owning all of the rights to the show, the company Games Animation, headed by new series head Bob Camp, was the new production company, and Billy West was doing double duty as the voices of both Ren and Stimpy.

While it’s possible that John K. wasn’t too satisfied about his show losing its edgy quality that the first two seasons delivered, in addition to it belonging to the top network for kids, the question remained, had The Ren & Stimpy Show lost any of its appeal by Season Three? By no means whatsoever—in fact, it managed to be just as funny as its preceding seasons, despite the wacky elements of the show having been replaced by more stupidity and gross out gags.

Another new element of the show was a somewhat upgraded look in the animation field. You could clearly tell that this wasn’t the direction of Kricfalusi. The episodes had garnered a flashy, more contemporary animated look; a look that was more at the level of such other Nickelodeon shows as Rugrats and Doug. While I had high admiration for the style that John K. had brought to the show, the new look never took away any qualities from the show.

And Ren and Stimpy themselves were as insane and as mismatched as ever, and many of the episodes in Seasons 3 and ˝-ish are to be forever regarded as classics. Take the very first episode, which features the short To Salve or Not to Salve, where in which Stimpy is persuaded by a hyper salesman to purchase cans of a product named simply Salve, which has a solution for just about any and every problem. Ren warns the salesman off, but he keeps popping up at every possible turn.

Another classic is An Abe Divided, where our two heroes take a job guarding the Lincoln Memorial, a job that they mistook for guarding a living president. When the scheming Ren gets word of a rumor that a treasure may be located inside Lincoln’s head, he throws everybody out just two minutes after opening the place, determined to see if the riches lay underneath the stone head of Lincoln, or as he’s called in the episode, President Willard J. Fillmore.

Other season highlights include Eat My Cookies, which features a guest voice appearance by Rosie O’Donnell. In this one, Ren and Stimpy become girl scouts just to enjoy a simple life of selling cookies, but Stimpy’s obsession with getting merit badges drives Ren up the wall. Then there’s Ren’s Bitter Half, where in which Ren, after being zapped by Stimpy’s science experiment machine, is split into two different personalities, his evil side and his indifferent side.

I’ll lastly mention the weird but truly memorable I Love Chicken, where Stimpy inexplicably falls in love with a chicken Ren has just bought from the store. They end up getting married, though Ren hatches a scheme to have his chicken dinner once and for all. In the world of deranged humor, this particular episode is a landmark one.

And as a bonus, Powdered Toast Man, voiced by the irreplaceable Gary Owens, makes a return in Powdered Toastman vs. Waffle Woman.

Disc 1 contains episodes:

To Salve And Salve Not
No Pants Today
A Yard Too Far
Circus Midgets
Ren's Pecs
An Abe Divided
Stimpy's Cartoon Show
Jiminy Lummox
Bass Masters

Disc 2 contains episodes:

Ren's Retirement
Jerry The Bellybutton Elf
Road Apples
Hard Times For Haggis
Eat My Cookies
Ren's Bitter Half
Lair Of The Lummox
Hermit Ren

Disc 3 contains episodes

House Of Next Tuesday
A Friend In Your Face!
Blazing Entrails
Lumberjerks
Prehistoric Stimpy
Farm Hands
Magical Golden Singing Cheeses
A Hard Day's Luck
I Love Chicken
Powdered Toast Man vs. Waffle Woman
It's A Dog's Life
Egg Yolkeo

While many may feel that the first two seasons represent the true form of The Ren & Stimpy Show, I truly think that Seasons 3 and a Half-ish contain many classic episodes to emerge from the legacy of Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat. True die-hard fans, like myself, can attest to this, and if you are such a fan, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this superb episode collection.

Video ***

Presented in its original format, Season 3 and a Half-ish boasts the same kind of surprising visual qualities that was seen in the Season 1 & 2 package. The animation looks as tremendous as the format can allow it. Many distinct shots, mostly close ups, provide some impressive visual detail. Colors are nothing short of amazing. As was the case with the first release, this is a presentation that fans will certainly appreciate.

Audio ***

The 2.0 Dolby mix, though a limited sound format, adds up to the absolute best sound presentation for this series that one will ever hope to find. Again, the opening theme of the show sounds most fantastic, and additional music cues fare extraordinarily well. Spoken words are also a big plus. Paramount has done this series very well with its treatment.

Features **1/2

Basically, the only bonus provided is that of commentary tracks, but there are plenty of them; 11 to be exact, and can be found on selected episodes. Not only can you hear the comments of series creator John K. and members of the original animation team, but on a couple of episodes, Ren & Stimpy themselves can be heard with perhaps the most insightful commentary ever!

Lastly, the animated menus are extremely well done, and are in true Ren & Stimpy fashion.

Summary:

The Ren & Stimpy Show continue its eager reception on DVD with the new package of Seasons Three and a Half-ish. This is a collection that is a must have for true series fans, as well as anyone looking for a bizarrely funny TV series. And to Stimpy and Chicken…we wish you a most happy honeymoon!

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