Monday, December 6, 2010
Ren and Stimpy "Season 1-6" DVDs and "Lost Episodes (Adult Party Cartoon)" DVD
I decided that today I'm going to make a bunch of posts dedicated to things I think are massively underrated, perhaps well-received but for some reason never successful, or things that were once quite popular but have now unjustly fallen into obscurity. I know the first thing you're thinking: "Ren and Stimpy is not underrated. Everybody knows it rules and knows it had a massive influence on modern cartoons, and it has a huge cult following." All these are true, but there's one little fact we can't ignore: it's not on TV. Not on any channel, satellite and others, not even a single episode a week. For godssake, even "Minoriteam" is still being aired. I would kiss [as] if they added this show to their roster; it would fit so perfectly into their repertoire, and ideally it could replace their constant airing of those fucking tired-as-hell "Family Guy" episodes I have grown so incredibly sick of. So by this standard, R&S is def underrated at this moment in time. Another thing that piqued my interest in writing about R&S is the glorious return of "Futurama." With season 5 coming to a close recently, it made me think a bit about when R&S had made their "comeback," and why it failed. Although not as great as the originals, the new 'Futurama" episodes and the movies before them did a lot of things right: they got all the original voice actors, they kept everyone (mostly) in character, didn't change the animation style aside from adding a bit of detail, and overall didn't really change the show too much. "Adult Party Cartoon" radically altered R&S, didn't have Billy West on board (crucial), had all new artists, and obviously made the show very blatantly "adult," even though many of the new episodes were written back in the early 90s. I think the jump to making the show raunchier was the primary downfall. The show was already very raunchy and very very adult back in the day, it was just more cleverly disguised and subtle. The subtle innuendos and "I can't believe they just did that on a kid's network!" moments were among the best parts of the original show. When I watch classic R&S now, I never for a moment feel like I'm watching a show for little kids. It so masterfully breaks down age-barriers, thanks in no small part to the transcendental themes of the show. Actually, let's talk about the transcendental elements for a bit. As R&S was a major, major part of my childhood, def my favorite show then and still my favorite show now, I was always drawn into the transcendental mentality R&S presented, even if I didn't know it when I was little. I mean just look at this blog; a review of a Bone Awl tape next to a review of "Saved By The Bell" trading cards! This is not something I do on purpose to be "quirky," these are the things that I really like, and I don't care if my interests seem conflicting by other people's standards, I like what I like and I don't give two shits how schizophrenic it makes me look, and I don't give two shits whether something is "cool" and "hip" or whether being into something will never get me laid again (which I think is most people's fear of exploring unpopular territory, but really it's a stupid fear because it's not nearly as true as you'd probably believe). If I want to completely smash up every window and piece of furniture in a college dorm living room with my shit-faced friends one night (true story, that was what resulted in the third school I was expelled from) and then play a quiet game of "Settlers of Catan" board game with some friendly geeks the next night, I'll do it. I can't help liking what I like, and I deny nothing, and I base what I like on nothing other than my gut feeling. I really think that watching VHS copies of R&S over and over and over as a kid implanted this "nothing is off-limits" mentality I have come to embrace, to at least explore every facet of everything, never thinking even for a moment whether or not people will think I'm "cool" for being into something. That would be my nightmare, to live based on the way others perceive me, to me that would be such an unfulfilling life. R&S sometimes live in a 1950s ranch house and are human-sized and are essentially human, sometimes they are a dog and a cat looking for a human owner, sometimes they are 3 inches tall living in a small patch of vegetation, sometimes they live in a boot, they lived inside a cow once, they lived inside a rotten whale carcass once, a spitoon once, they are fireman, rubber nipple salesmen, pro wrestlers, hosts of a nature show documentary, space cadets millions of years in the future, homeless, sometimes they are the main characters, sometimes not, sometimes they are characters from classic stories like Robin Hood, Ren has played Hitler, Stimpy has played Elvis, sometimes they are elderly, sometimes babies, sometimes they play the role of themselves, stars of "The Ren and Stimpy Show" as a show within a show, sometimes they survive things what normally kill someone, other times they are cautious as if death were a very real threat, the way Ren and Stimpy are drawn is unique to every shot, their bodies get distorted and from shot to shot it sometimes looks like completely different artists' interpretations of the same character. Time and eras do not exist, they all blend into one, but primarily the universe of R&S is set in a mix of the 1920s through the 1970s, but never allowing the time period in which the show was produced to ever be apparent. I could go into so much detail about how R&S has influenced pretty much every adult cartoon you see today, but it's too long a list to go into. Instead I'll make some mention of some things R&S did that you don't really see much today. For one thing, shows today rely heavily on stock animation (recycling animations), R&S didn't just hand-draw every single animation, and every animation was unique, but they went so far as to John K inspecting every single facial expression/animation, and if he ever saw an artist draw an expression that looked to similar to any expression they ever used, he'd make the poor guy redraw it. And another "joke" about Spumco was that John K only hired hot girls whenever he hired a woman. Fact is, this is not really a joke, it's totally true and that rules! I'll leave it at that.