Monday, December 15, 2008

When Babies Aren't Cute

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

When I moved to Florida and had cable television for the first time, I discovered Rugrats during a Nickelodeon marathon. My first thoughts were not that positive (it was the episode where the parents lose Tommy and Chuckie in the Toy Store - the first episode in Season 2), but after getting sweaty playing outside, I retreated back to the living room and the marathon. After a few more episodes, both of my siblings and I became fans. The second film premiered a week or so after I got my driver's license, and that was the first movie that I drove to see.

Basically, the show features a bunch of babies and their parents. Tommy Pickles, the main character and the leader of the group, usually ends up in some sort of trouble. Malapropisms abound, and it's quite entertaining that the adults in the show cannot comprehend what the television audience can. I guess that's what you get when you have kids between one and two years of age. Three-year-olds Susie and Angelica can understand and communicate with both the babies and the adults. In almost every episode, the parents never even realize that the kids have gone missing or are doing something they shouldn't, and the babies are able to return to their original destination and activities by the end of the show.

Rugrats has done an excellent job intriguing the eyes of older children and parents, particularly with its well-known Hanukkah and Passover episodes (Tommy's mother Didi is Jewish, while his father Stu is Christian). In the teenage spinoff, Tommy is attending classes in Hebrew to prepare for his bar mitzvah. Perhaps one of the reasons why the show finally died out is that the older viewers could just no longer relate, and the younger viewers were turning to crappy shows like Spongebob Squarepants. Or maybe it's because there are only so many things that babies can do, LoL. But somehow Klasky and Csupo were able to write enough scripts to keep the show flowing for years. I personally don't know how, as the babies were unlike any cutesy toddlers usually seen in shows, and all seemed like misfits in some way. Anywho...

Rugrats ran from 1991-2004, making an impressive fourteen years. It is the longest-running Nicktoon, and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001). It had four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Children's Program and four wins for the Best Cartoon at the Kid's Choice Awards. It also had a spinoff (which began as the ten-year anniversary special Rugrats: All Growed Up) and two theatrical-release movies (that each added a new character to the show). In 1998 with Rugrats: The Movie, the group added a three-month old to the how who has no communicative abilities, Tommy's brother Dil. In 2000, with Rugrats in Paris, Chuckie's dad gets remarried, adding a stepsister for Chuckie: Kimi. (There was technically a third theatrically-released film, but it was a crossover with The Wild Thornberrys, which I am not a fan of). From 2003-2008, the spinoff All Grown Up featured the characters as preteens and teens, with a total of 55 episodes. Now, technically there is a second spinoff, which only began about a month ago, but I have yet to see an episode so I don't know that I can really speak to it. If you're interested, it is called Angelica and Susie's Preschool Daze, and apparently runs on Nickelodeon at 6am on Sundays. Four episodes have aired thus far. There were also a bunch of video games... PlayStation's Rugrats: Search for Reptar is definitely a fun game though. The levels were based on various episodes, and you got to play as several different characters, including Spike the dog. And in case you didn't know, Reptar is a green T-Rex that the babies love.

Viacom has removed pretty much every clip of Rugrats on the internet, but here's a few pictures to show most of the main characters.
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