Show Notes – Ren and Stimpy

The Ren and Stimpy Show- Episode 43

Check out our episode on Ren and Stimpy here.

  • Usually just called Ren and Stimpy, The Ren & Stimpy Show was an animated show created for Nickelodeon by John Kricfalusi. It originally aired on August 11, 1991 as one of the original 3  Nicktoons, airing after Rugrats.
  • The last episode ended December 16th, 1995 after five seasons and 52 episodes.
  • The show is fairly known for its darker humor, sexual innuendo, violence, and adult jokes.
  • These things led to much of the controversy between production staff and Nickelodeon’s Standards and Practices department.
  • The show is now widely considered to be fairly revolutionary because of the very things that made it so controversial in the first place
  • The show came back briefly in 2003 from June 6th to July 24th on Spike, as Ren & Stimpy “Adult Party Cartoon”, before being cancelled.
    • Only 3 episodes of this show ever aired with episodes 4, 5, & 6 being included on the DVD Lost Episodes set.
    • This version of the show received negative reviews from both fans and critics.
    • This short lived series is widely seen as the reason why Ren & Stimpy never got a reboot from Nickelodeon

Created by

  • John Kricfalusi
    • Started his career on Super Friends and The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show
    • From 79’ through the mid 80’s he worked at Filmation, and then Hanna-Barbera and DIC Entertainment on an assortment of shows
      • which he once described as “the worst animation of all time.”
      • Supervised the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series for CBS
        • Mighty Mouse was cancelled amidst controversy for allegedly depicting the main character snorting cocaine. Ralph Bakshi maintained that neither he nor Kricfalusi had the character sniffing cocaine, and that the character was sniffing the crushed petals of a flower, which were handed to him in a previous scene in the cartoon
    • Founder of Spümcø along with Jim Smith, Bob Camp and Lynne Naylor
      • They then created a pilot for Ren and Stimpy
    • Kricfalusi was the main director and writer for the show, but had several other writers and a few directors who joined them.

Production

Development

  • According to animator William Wray, John Kricfalusi created the characters Ren and Stimpy in 1978 for “personal amusement” while studying at Sheridan College in his native Canada
    • He was inspired to create Ren by an Elliott Erwitt photograph, printed on a postcard, called “New York City, 1946”, showing a sweatered chihuahua at a woman’s feet.
    • Stimpy’s design was inspired by a Tweety Bird cartoon called A Gruesome Twosome where the cats in the animation had big noses
  • The show was known for its lack of early merchandising
    • According to Wray, the initial lack of merchandise was “the unique and radical thing” about The Ren & Stimpy Show, as no toy company planned ahead for any merchandise for the show, and Nickelodeon did not want to use “over-exploitive” merchandising
  • Kricfalusi estimated Spümcø’s run of The Ren & Stimpy Show cost around $6,000,000 to produce
  • Over time, The relationship between Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon worsened to the point where Kricfalusi would communicate with Nickelodeon only through his lawyer
    • Several of the series’s staff and news outlets ascribe the tension to episodes not being delivered in a timely manner due to “Kricfalusi’s lax treatment of deadlines…” according to a writer for Wizard magazine.
      • some of the delays were attributed to Nickelodeon’s prolonged approval process and withdrawal of approval from scenes and episodes that had been previously approved
      • Another bone of contention was the direction of the series. Nickelodeon later asked the new studio to make it lighter and less frightening
      • Kricfalusi cites the episode “Man’s Best Friend” as the primary reason for his dismissal; the episode features a violent climax where Ren brutally assaults the character George Liquor with an oar and because of references to tobacco
        • This episode finally aired in 2003 for the Spike TV reboot
  • Following the firing of Kricfalusi in 92’ , Games Animation handled the show starting with its third season, with Billy West, Stimpy’s voice actor, replacing Kricfalusi’s role as the voice of Ren

Reception

  • The reviews at the time were mixed, but usually positive. After the show ended, it became far more critically acclaimed as it built a cult following.
  • Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, praised the show for its outrageousness
  • Terry Thoren, former CEO and president of Klasky Csupo, said that Kricfalusi “tapped into an audience that was a lot hipper than anybody thought. He went where no man wanted to go before – the caca, booger humor
  • The show came to garner high ratings for Nickelodeon, averaging three times the viewership of the other Nickelodeon cartoons and becoming for its first year the most popular cable TV show in the United States. The show quickly developed a cult following in college campuses

Legacy

  • The immediate influence of the show was the spawning of two “clones”: Hanna-Barbera‘s 2 Stupid Dogs, in which Spümcø employees including Kricfalusi had some limited involvement after their departure from Ren & Stimpy; and Disney‘s The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show. However, the show had a wider influence on the future of animation.
  • Most importantly, the show had a wider influence on the future of animation in general
  • Mike Judge credits MTV’s willingness to commission Beavis and Butt-head to the success of Ren & Stimpy on the network
  • Writer/animator Allan Neuwirth writes that Ren & Stimpy “broke the mold” and started several trends in TV animation, chiefly the revival of credits at the beginning of each episode, the use of grotesque close-ups, and a shift in cartoon color palettes to richer, more harmonious colors
    • A great example of this is SpongeBob SquarePants and its heavy use of physically extreme drawings that contrast with the character’s usual and more soft appearance.
    • Ren & Stimpy placed 31st in TV Guide’s list of “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” in 2002

Animation

Distributor

Voice cast

Episodes to cover

  • S1E1(a&b), S1E2(a&b), S1E3(a&b),
  • [Chris’s pick:] Unaired pilot “Big House Blues”, and the censored/unaired 2nd season episode “Man’s Best Friend” {aired in 2003 as episode 0 for Adult Cartoon Party (2003)}
  • [Sean’s pick:] S2E4 Sven Hoek

Episode list: List of The Ren & Stimpy Show episodes

Wikipedia: The Ren & Stimpy Show

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101178/

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