Ren & Stimpy: Seasons Three and a Half-ish
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The gross misadventures of a manic Chihuahua and a fat dimwitted cat get idiotic as they struggle their way from what was once a genius show to a faltering third and fourth season. Now quick, cling tenaciously to my buttocks!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
As soon as the third season of THE REN & STIMPY SHOW hit, a sudden black cloud of disgrace hovered over it. Why? Because the show got taken away from the brilliant mind of John Kricfalusi and his company Spümcø, and dumped into the lap of Nickelodeon and a new company, Games Animation. Heading this company was Kricfalusi’s good friend and associate, Bob Camp. Many of the old players from Spümcø actually stayed around, but with Kricfalusi out of the picture, the show just lost its heart. From then on out, the basic equation of “Dumb Fat Cat + Mean Hyper Dog + Gross out humor = Good” was followed, which is missing the point entirely of why the first two season were so great. The earlier episodes were brimming with wonderful comic timing, depth, and an overall creative genius. That’s not to say all these later episodes are terrible; in fact, there are a number on the first two discs that still have a hint of what was so enjoyable from before the switch. This is most likely due to that, during the abrupt change, many episodes were still in progress, and were then finished later by the new company. So yes, there is still shining moments of hope throughout this box set. But unfortunately, by the time you get to the third disc, a gradual decline has commenced. The animation, writing, directing, and voice acting all start getting lazier. Speaking of voice acting, Kricfalusi was the original voice behind Ren, with Billy West (voice of Fry in FUTURAMA) doing the voice of Stimpy. Well, after the change, Billy West started doing both voices. Not only is his version of Ren unbearably lazy and unexciting, but he seems to be bored with voicing Stimpy too. Damn. This show really hit a downward spiral...
The 29 episodes offered here range from agonizingly tedious to moderately hilarious, but not a single one of them rises above what was presented during Kricfalusi’s reign. One of the highlights include “Stimpy’s Cartoon Show”, in which Ren goes about trying to help Stimpy make his new animated movie. Problem is, he has zero talent, so Stimpy says he can be the producer – the guy who tells the artist what to do, and later takes all the credit. Funny stuff. But then we get on to other episodes like “Hermit Ren” (where Ren goes to live in a cave) that are just plain idiotic. Maybe I’m being harsh. Even at it’s worst, the third and fourth seasons of REN & STIMPY are still a helluva lot better than some of the other trash cartoons on TV. Still, that doesn’t negate the fact that a show glimmering with genius was morphed into nothing more than a gross-out sketch show. If nothing else, get this box set for the memories. Or to watch in as awe as the enterprise of one of the greatest cartoons ever made gets torn down.
If you don’t like commentaries, then the special features here wont mean anything to you. However, if you are a fan of the show and enjoy hearing the words of the original Spümcø crew, then you should love this as much as I did.
Audio Commentaries: Out of the 29 episodes (most of which are about 11 minutes), 11 of them have commentaries. What makes things really odd (in a good way) is that the original team speaks for the commentaries, regardless that their influence on the show was nearly gone completely. Every single track is superb, and almost always more entertaining than the actual cartoon itself. John K. makes some pretty snide comments during many of these, but I guess I would be upset too if my baby was taken away.
Ren & Stimpy Commentary: This is an “in-character” commentary track, where John K. and Eric Bauza play Ren and Stimpy talking about their memories of the episode. It is certainly nice to hear John Kricfalusi back in fine form, but the track itself is rarely funny, and completely repetitive. Listen to it for a couple minutes and then switch it off.
Fans may still be encouraged to pick this up, and the commentaries seem to seal the deal. But those who are already satisfied with only having the first box set should leave it that way. It’s a little depressing watching these episodes get worse and worse. Despite all that, there is some fun to be had with the leftover brilliance of the mastermind who once helmed the show, John Kricfalusi. You have to decide for yourself if it’s really worth it. In my opinion – you should just stick with seasons 1 and 2.