The Ren & Stimpy Show
The Ren & Stimpy Show was an animated comedy series created by John Kricfalusi about a neurotic chihuahua named Ren Höek and a fat simpleton cat named Stimpson J. Cat. It was one of three original animated programs which made up the original foundation of Nicktoons, along with Doug and Rugrats.
The characters of Ren and Stimpy were created around 15 years prior to the creation of the show, according to cartoonist Bill Wray. Kricfalusi claims inspiration from a photograph of a chihuahua in a sweater by Elliott Erwitt entitled "New York City, 1946" for the creation of Ren. Stimpy is said to be a combination of the two cats in "A Gruesome Twosome" by Bob Clampett. Years later, when Nickelodeon requested new series, Kricfalusi put together a pilot presentation called Our Gang, which featured a live-action host introducing different cartoons in the same vein as Laugh In. Each cartoon was an original parodying a different genre, with Ren & Stimpy parodying the talking cat and dog cartoons. Producer Vanessa Coffey didn't like the general idea, but did like Ren & Stimpy.
Following the pilot presentation, Kricfalusi developed Ren & Stimpy into a full series and successfully pitched it to Nickelodeon in 1989. A pilot was produced in-house by Spümcø in October 1990 and finally aired on August 11, 1991. Although the series was a product of a children's network, The Ren & Stimpy Show was well known for its use of grotesque-looking animation and extremely crass, low-brow humor and was one of the first animated shows to push the boundaries of cable television, along with Beavis and Butt-Head and other animated MTV series. The series thrived on making the audience (as well as network executives) uncomfortable, often through use of extreme violence, animal abuse and gross-out humor in its episodes.
As a result, many of the episodes were censored by the network. It was not uncommon for executives to attempt to have Kricfalusi clean up episodes by removing offensive dialogue and situations. He characterized his relationship with the network as "simple" in the show's early years: he only dealt with one executive who he liked. A second executive was hired, who attempted to ban already produced episodes. Kricfalusi was forced to make a deal with the executive to leave them intact—he promised to make "heart warming" episodes in exchange for the "really crazy" episodes.
Firing of John Kricfalusi
A famous, and final, example of censorship was on the episode "Man's Best Friend." At one point in the episode, Ren savagely beats George Liquor with an oar. The episode was shelved by the network and would not be seen until the series was revived on Spike TV in 2003. John K. was fired from the show he created after the second season. Upon his departure, Billy West took over the voices done by Kricfalusi and George Liquor was removed entirely from the series. After Kricfalusi's firing, he was given the rights to George Liquor (a character that Nickelodeon reportedly hated) and Jimmy the Hapless Idiot Boy.
Kricfalusi's firing wasn't entirely due to content, however. Wray claimed that the main problem that Nickelodeon had with Kricfalusi was the time he took to finish episodes. He said in interviews that a single episode could take as short as 2–3 months to produce or more than 8 months. Kricfalusi claimed that the delays weighed largely on indecision on the network's part and staff members "changing their minds." At the same time, Kricfalusi's high standards also caused delays. According to Wray, Kricfalusi believed that "every step after the storyboards weakens the process" and that he "fought for the integrity of the storyboards." As a result, he caused delays in order to bring the show as close to the original storyboards as possible.
After Kricfalusi was fired, the story often was characterized as portraying Kricfalusi as the good guy and Nickelodeon as the bad guys, a conception which Wray disagrees with due to the fact that Kricfalusi willingly sold the rights to Ren & Stimpy to the network.
Games Animation Years
After John K. and Spümcø were removed from the series, Bob Camp and Games Animation picked up the series for Nickelodeon. Many critics saw the removal of Spümcø as the point at which the series jumped the shark because of the marginalization of its edgy content. The new production studio didn't fight nearly as hard for the type of humor that Spümcø pushed for because, as Camp explained, "(we didn't try to) reflect John's vision. We can't — because we are not John." As a result, the production studio didn't resist network notes as strongly as Kricfalusi and began to make a show more along the lines of what executives hoped for.
The series, as a result, fell into a rut of censorship by the network and self-censorship. The series was officially cancelled in 1996. In 2003, the series was briefly revived on Spike TV as Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon". The once banned "Man's Best Friend" was the first episode aired in this new series. A new Ren & Stimpy show, with Viacom assuming complete control, is being planned for Comedy Central.
|John Kricfalusi||Ren Höek||1||2|
|Gary Owens||Powdered Toast Man||1||2||3||4||5|
|Michael Pataki||George Liquor||2|
|Harris Peet||George Liquor||1|
|Alan Young||Haggis MacHaggis||4||5|
|Season One||August 11, 1991||February 23, 1992||13|
|Season Two||August 15, 1992||May 23, 1993||12|
|Season Three||November 20, 1993||July 30, 1994||16|
|Season Four||October 1, 1994||April 1, 1995||13|
|Season Five||March 18, 1995||October 20, 1996||11|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
- Characters: A listing of recurring characters from the series
|The First and Second Seasons||October 12, 2004||3||
|Seasons Three and a Half-ish||June 28, 2005||3||
|Season Five and More of Four||September 20, 2005||3||
|Best Of Sets|
|The Best of Ren & Stimpy: Set 1||September 15, 2003||3||