Most people remember The Ren and Stimpy Show. If you revisit it, you'll probably remember more of it than you think you do. The show revolved around the two titular characters. Ren - A chihuahua with anger management issues and an obsession to build his pectoral muscles, and Stimpy - An idiotic red cat who was entirely devout to being Ren's friend, despite the repeated, non-stop abuse he was given along the way.
The show was created by John Kricfalusi, and sold to Nickelodeon in 1989, finally airing in 1991 as the first of 3 Nicktoons, alongside Doug, and Rugrats. Now it doesn’t take a genius to see that Ren and Stimpy was of a very different ilc to the other two inaugural Nicktoons. Kricfalusi’s own production company Spümcø produced the cartoon, which goes some way to explain how they managed to slip a lot of their content through the net at Nickelodeon. After a number of public spats with the broadcaster, Kricfalusi was fired in 1993, and the production handed over to a more controllable company - and so the rapid decline of Ren and Stimpy began, with the show finishing 2 years later.
During its heyday, the cartoon was unlike anything that came before it. Each screen, face and background individually crafted in incredible detail. This new animation style paved the way for adult favourites like Beavis and Butthead and South Park; alongside the most glaringly obvious example which is children's favourite, Spongebob Squarepants.
While I was growing up, Ren and Stimpy was on BBC 2, Monday 6.25pm. I wasn’t one of those fancy kids who had SKY TV, so no Nickelodeon for me (luckily I hold absolutely no resentment against those who did...who am I kidding, I still hate them all!). I switched over after Neighbours for a weekly delight. I was young and there were fart jokes and violence. But there was also incredibly engaging, shockingly detailed animation, and some very weird things happening on screen that I can't have understood the full extent of. I had the Megadrive game, a cuddly toy, and shouted Ren's catchphrase “You Eediot!” at every given opportunity - I was a fan. With hindsight, I realise that my parents must not have taken much interest in this aspect of my life...else they may have had concerns about my fascination with this unusual programme.
I mentioned the TV show to a friend. The response - “Wasn’t that the scary one? It was really dark, their eyes nearly popped out and had extreme close-ups on their viens”
I scoffed - “Noo, it was a cartoon. It was funny!”
Looking again - my friend was absolutely right. It was dark, very intense, laced with innuendo, adult humour, violence and graphic imagery. Imagery which is imprinted on my brain forever. The short video below ‘Ren and Stimpy - Never The Same Face Twice’ explains why that might be the case.