The Ren & Stimpy Show-The First and Second Seasons Unleashed (1991)

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Released 21-Mar-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Featurette-Ren & Stimpy: In The Beginning (11:21)
Featurette-Svn Hek Pencil Test (14:42)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 431:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bob Camp
Tom McGrath
Peter Avanzino
John Kricfalusi
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring John Kricfalusi
Billy West
Bob Camp
Cheryl Chase
Gary Owens
Michael Pataki
Harris Peet
Alan Young
Vincent Waller
Case Slip Case
RPI $36.95 Music Scott Huml
John Kricfalusi
Shawn Patterson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

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 Svn Hek 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)

  1. Stimpy's Big Day / The Big Shot (23:27) - Against Ren's advice, Stimpy enters and ultimately wins a $47 Million television contest. His rise to fame decimates their friendship, however in The Big Shot Stimpy is forced to choose between the dough and his old friend. Includes the shorts Log and Stimpy's Breakfast Tip.
  2. Robin Hoek / Nurse Stimpy (23:29) - Stimpy relays the tale of Robin Hoek, a brave hero who steals from the rich and gives to the cheerleaders. In Nurse Stimpy, Ren wakes one morning to find himself terribly ill and dependant on the care of his friend. Includes the shorts Powdered Toast and The Oath.
  3. Space Madness / The Boy Who Cried Rat (24:42) - Deep Space explorers Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy are caught in the grip of a mysterious mind-altering state. In The Boy Who Cried Rat, the pair pose as Cat and Mouse and try to hoodwink a married couple. Includes the shorts Sugar Frosted Milk and Yak-Shaving Day.
  4. Fire Dogs / The Littlest Giant (23:32) - Stimpy and Ren join the Fire Brigade and find the job entails a little more than they bargained for. Next, Stimpy shares another twisted Fairy Tale about a not-so-big giant who saves the wee-folk of Thumbsville. Includes the shorts Ask Dr. Stupid and Log For Girls.
  5. Marooned / Untamed World (26:23) - Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy return in an adventure of survival on a bizarre planet. Untamed World takes us to the Galapagos Islands for a look at their strangely familiar wildlife. Includes the shorts My Little Brother Doll, Ask Dr. Stupid, The Oath and Log For Girls.
  6. Black Hole / Stimpy's Invention (24:30) - Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy discover what lies on the other side of a black hole. Then, Stimpy invents a helmet that can make his friend perpetually happy. Includes the shorts High-Fashion Log For Girls and Ask Dr. Stupid.

Disc Two (121:52)

  1. Ren's Toothache / Rubber Nipple Salesmen (22:26) - Stimpy teaches Ren a thing or two about dental hygiene and the dreaded Tooth Beaver. Then, the pair travel door-to-door selling rubber nipples, which proves to be a challenge. Includes the short Super-Deluxe Ultra Log.
  2. Svn Hek (23:02) - Ren's Cousin, Sven, comes to visit and forms a friendship with Stimpy, which makes Ren insane with anger as the two make a mess of the house. Includes the shorts Action Log and Gritty Kitty Litter.
  3. Haunted House / Maddog Hoek (21:41) - A lame and heavily depressed ghost tries to deter the pair from staying in his house. Next, the two pose as professional wrestlers to prove Ren's theory that the sport is bogus.
  4. In The Army / Big House Blues (23:31) - Ren and Stimpy are drafted into the US Army and have to endure the toughest Drill Sergeant of them all. In Big House Blues, the pair find themselves in the pound, where adoption is the only alternative to the big sleep. Includes the shorts Sugar Frosted Milk, Ask Dr. Stupid, The Oath and Log For Girls.
  5. Big Baby Scam / Dog Show (22:56) - Ren hatches a plot for the pair to pose as babies, hoping to enjoy an easy life. In Dog Show, George Liquor shares the finer points of pet grooming and enters Ren and Stimpy in a pedigree event.
  6. Big House Blues (Unedited Pilot) (8:14) - A slightly longer version of the Big House Blues story, with alternate credits.

Disc Three (163:20)

  1. Monkey See, Monkey Don't / Powdered Toast Man (23:33) - The pair check into a Zoo posing as Monkeys, thinking that they can have an easy life. Then, everyone's favourite superhero is completely demystified in a day of heroic adventure. Frank Zappa appears as the voice of The Pope.
  2. Fake Dad / Out West (23:33) - Ren signs up to act as part-time Dad for Kowalski, a massive, hairy prisoner who only eats meat. In Out West, the boys are sentenced to hanging, but not before they have a hoe-down!
  3. Stimpy's Fan Club (22:59) - Ren becomes insanely jealous of Stimpy's vast amount of fan mail, but his friend finds a touching way of balancing things. Includes the short Secret Fan Club Induction.
  4. The Great Outdoors / The Cat That Laid The Golden Hairball (22:39) - Stimpy takes Ren camping, but he's not prepared to go skinny-dipping or battle mosquitoes. Then, the value of hairballs sky rockets, so Ren puts his pal on a production line. The problem is, his fur supply is limited.
  5. Visit To Anthony (23:45) - The boys leave their home in Hollywood, Yugoslavia to visit a young fan in the USA, only to find he is naive, spoilt and very highly strung. Includes the shorts Mr. Horse Returns and World Crisis with Mr. Horse.
  6. The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen (24:15) - While on patrol in the barren deserts of Canada, our pair of newly kilted recruits turn to unconventional sources of food to stay alive. Also includes the shorts Powdered Toast: Vitamin F and Sugar Sod Pops.
  7. Son Of Stimpy (Stimpy's First Fart) (22:33) - In their perennially charming Christmas story, Stimpy embarks on a quest to find his long lost son, an emanation from his derrire named Stinky. Ren fails to understand of course, but will the true spirit of Christmas prevail?

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, Spmc, and created the series Ripping Friends, reviewed by me here. Spmc 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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

All of the menu pages are static and silent. There is no 16x9 enhancement in this package.

Featurette- Ren & Stimpy: In The Beginning (11:21)

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.

Storyboard Art- Svn Hek Pencil Test (14:42)

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.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 equivalent to our collection includes an audio commentary from creator John Kricfalusi on four episodes; Untamed World, Stimpy's Invention, Powdered Toast Man and Son of Stimpy. Region 1 also has an extra 'banned' episode, Man's Best Friend, which features the George Liquor character. There are also additional featurettes covering storyboards, pencil tests and galleries of background art.

Obviously the Region 1 package would be ideal for fans of the series.

Summary

The Ren & Stimpy Show: The First and Second Seasons Unleashed is an entertaining collection of the show's best two seasons.

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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, April 21, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Do they plan to release the rest of the series in Oz - Trevor