The Ren & Stimpy Show-The First and Second Seasons Unleashed (1991)
Featurette-Ren & Stimpy: In The Beginning (11:21)
Featurette-Svën Høek Pencil Test (14:42)
|Year Of Production||1991|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Ren & Stimpy were a staple of 90s television and to this day are widely regarded as unique and hilarious. I have many fond memories of watching this show back then, and I was particularly excited to see the the first two seasons arrive on DVD. The show has a rather complicated history, one that is very well documented across a myriad of websites on the internet. I'll attempt to give you a quick rundown of the show and what makes it hilarious.
For those who don't know them, Ren (John Kricfalusi) and Stimpy (Billy West) are your classic odd couple; a Chihuahua and a Cat who live together in a relationship full of adventure and friction. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll flinch in disgust at the antics this pair get up to.
After pitching the concept for many years, creator John Kricfalusi sold the series to Nickelodeon and participated in the production for two seasons, arguably the show's best, acting as director, designer and artist while voicing one lead character, Ren Hoek. As has been widely documented, Nickeloden frequently clashed with Kricfalusi over the final product and even went as far as to edit some episodes before airing. The episodes presented here on DVD are in various forms; some remain cut and others are restored. For example, the Svën Høek episode presented here has been restored with a short piece of video inserted that shows a timecode on the top of the screen. Big Baby Scam still contains fade-outs where footage is missing, while other renowned cuts, such as Powdered Toast Man burning the American declaration of independence, have also been restored. There are many episode guides on the internet that detail the cuts that Nickelodeon made, and these would be a good place to start if you wish to make a very detailed comparison with the episodes presented here. Personally, I think these feel a little more expanded in comparison to the episodes I viewed years ago, so I'm happy.
In a move that baffled fans of the show, Nickelodeon fired Kricfalusi prior to the end of season two and continued without him, making a watered-down version of the show that paled in comparison. Without the creator, there just wasn't the level of humour or confronting imagery, and it was widely panned by devotees. Rest assured that the episodes presented here are the original, side-splitting 'classics'. Nowhere else will you see a Chihuahua baby-sit a gigantic, hairy, convicted murderer. How rarely does a TV show follow a retarded feline as he searches for his own fart in an emotional Christmas fable?
Yes, unique is an appropriate way to describe this show. Uniquely hilarious.
Disc One (146:05)
Disc Two (121:52)
Disc Three (163:20)
I must make mention of the show's outstanding music - it is integral to the humour. Who could forget classic songs like The Lord Loves a Hangin', Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy and the anthem of the Kilted Yaksmen? The short commercials in each episode have their own memorable jingles, such as Log, which brilliantly lampoons banal children's advertising.
John Kricfalusi continued at the helm of his own animation studio, Spümcø, and created the series Ripping Friends, reviewed by me here. Spümcø also produced the classic music video for Tenacious D's F*** Her Gently, as well as a video for Bjork. Ren & Stimpy have enjoyed a revival of sorts courtesy of the internet, however their original two seasons remain their best.
These episodes were broadcast in 1.33:1 full frame, and that is how they are presented on DVD. Given they are approaching fifteen years old (I can't believe it's been that long!), this is a good presentation.
The source of this PAL transfer appears to be both analogue and NTSC. Corrupt frames are present and the image doesn't look all that fantastic on a big screen. I noticed that viewing on a CRT display smaller than 80cm is considerably more pleasing to the eye. That said, the level of detail is acceptable for this animation and there are no serious analogue hiccoughs to speak of.
The colour depth is good, but not nearly as vibrant as more recent productions. The NTSC source certainly would not have helped in this regard.
I didn't notice any compression issues, however small film artefacts can be seen quite often, which is to be expected from this form of cel animation. Specks of dust and dirt appear now and then, as well as some minor scratches. The Powdered Toast Man episode on disc three suffers from considerable and persistent telecine wobble.
English subtitles are included in both standard and Hearing Impaired forms. I viewed a little of each disc with subtitles enabled and found them accurate and easy to read.
All three discs are dual-layered, however the layer breaks don't seem to interrupt any episodes.
There is only one soundtrack; the original stereo mix presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I'm told the dubbed Japanese language version is a crack-up, however it is not included here.
The dialogue is easy to discern and free of any distortion. Audio sync is as accurate as can be expected. Although this is a stereo soundtrack with good depth, I can't say I noticed any specific panning of any kind. Unfortunately, I did recognise an obvious audio dropout during the The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen episode at 17:30.
The score has a very jazzy feel, with copious electric guitar. Much of the music is attributed to Screamin' Lederhosen, which is comprised of Chris Reccardi and Scott Huml. This score is perfect - in fact, it is impossible to imagine the series without the fantastic musical accompaniment.
The subwoofer and surround channels are obviously not used.
|Surround Channel Use|
In this short featurette John K. and Bob Camp discuss many aspects of the series, from character development to the beginning of Spumco's relationship with Nickelodeon. There are also many anecdotes from the show's production. This featurette can be found on disc one.
Here we get to see the entire episode in storyboard form with a simple audio track of character voices and some effects. It's interesting from a production point of view, and gives a little insight into the making of the show. This feature is on disc two.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Obviously the Region 1 package would be ideal for fans of the series.
The video and audio transfers are good, but show a few flaws.
The extras are interesting, but we are missing four commentaries and an additional episode.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using DVI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|