I’m old enough to remember when MTV actually played music videos.
I didn’t have MTV growing up, but I still remember. What I did have on my cable package in the early 90’s was the Canadian equivalent known as MuchMusic based out of Toronto, who also played music videos as was the style at the time. But, one day sometime in 1991, MuchMusic or Much for short, started showing episodes of this bizarre and chaotic cartoon known as Ren and Stimpy about a lunatic chihuahua and his simple-minded feline friend who sounded like Larry from the Three Stooges.
I remember having a couple of issues of a Ren and Stimpy magazine in the nineties and creator John Kricfalusi mentioned in an interview within the magazine how he knew Billy West was the man he was looking for after he performed a Larry Fine impersonation. A Curly impersonation would make sense of course, even Moe isn’t entirely unheard of, but who the hell does Larry?! He hired him on the spot.
Within a year, the head honchos at Much decided that showing episodes of Ren and Stimpy didn’t fit the channels format and made a decree that since Ren and Stimpy had no correlation to music videos, airings of the show would stop immediately. The irony of what both Much and MTV would eventually become isn’t lost on me.
There was a compromise however. For one afternoon in 1992, Much would air a marathon of seasons 1 and 2 of the show, and I set my VCR to record every single episode so I could watch them again and again. That VHS cassette is buried somewhere in my home back in Nova Scotia.
However, today on PopLurker with the power of YouTube, we’re gonna kick back with a big bowl of Sugar Frosted Milk, slap on a pair of genuine super elastic time shorts, and look at my absolute favorite episodes from those first two seasons of Ren and Stimpy…ya lousy bum!
7) Stimpy’s Big Day/The Big Shot
The episode that started it all. If you want to get technical Big House Blues was the pilot as it was shown across several film festivals in 1990 as a way to promote the show, but as I’m sure is the case for most of us, the two part presentation of Stimpy’s Big Day and The Big Shot was our introduction to Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat.
Contrary to Ren’s opinion, Stimpy knows as well as we do that you’re never too old for cartoons and after writing the winning poem of 40 million words or less professing his love for Gritty Kitty, gets whisked away to Hollywood while Ren is left home alone, although oddly enough he later appears in an ad for Gritty Kitty alongside Stimpy. Was this an actor portraying Ren? Who knows. Does this make sense in hindsight? Who cares. Ren and Stimpy was never about making sense.
As an audience, we’re introduced to a number of key elements of the show. Ren’s lust for money in the form of Stimpy’s $47 million dollars which he ends up giving away, drawing Ren’s ire for the first but not the last time in the show’s run. We also meet Stimpy’s hero Muddy Mudskipper, as well as Mr. Horse who is not a professional actor, but in fact is a real horse.
6) Powdered Toast Man
Quick! Cling tenaciously to his buttocks and leave everything to him.
In the early nineties, I had no idea who Frank Zappa was, but looking at this episode now and realizing that Zappa supplies the voice of the Pope, I’m really not surprised. A show like Ren and Stimpy seems like it would be right up his alley.
Whether it’s saving the Pope from the mad clutches of Muddy Mudskipper while giving him a taste of his hyper corrosive croutons, slamming an airplane into an oncoming truck to save a cat using his projectile raisin breath, taking over as the President when the Commander in Chief got caught in his zipper, or saving our friends Ren and Stimpy from a bland and boring breakfast, a superhero’s job is never done.
5) Rubber Nipple Salesmen
I always loved the episodes where Ren and Stimpy found themselves in the home of everyday John Q. Taxpayer and his wife for various reasons. I was almost going to include The Boy Who Cried Rat in this countdown (Squeak! Squeak, I tell you squeak!), but this episode about Stimpy living out his dream that someday everyone would enjoy his nipples got the nod instead.
A paranoid Mr. Horse returns fearing the boys are with the FBI and seeing as they’re not selling rubber walrus protectors has no use for Stimpy’s nipples, a crazed fireman in the neighbourhood flattens Ren with his shovel after mistaking them for…circus midgets, before Stimpy finally takes over with the sales pitch and gets their foot in the door.
As I was watching this one and listening to the interactions between the husband and wife, I kept hearing Danny Devito’s voice reciting the lines and come on, tell me the same guy who played Louie De Palma and later Frank Reynolds wouldn’t have been perfect casting here.
4) Space Madness
Much like with Rubber Nipple Salesmen, I’m presented with a few options for favorite space related episode, and while I love the humor of Black Hole, especially when Stimpy realizes he had correct change for the bus all along before they implode, Space Madness was the clear winner.
There are several episodes; if not all of them, that show how fragile Ren’s psyche really is, but this one really takes the cake, or maybe it takes the ice cream bar.
Ren dives deeper into insanity and the longer he and Stimpy are isolated in space together the further he spirals down at the hands of Space. Madness. From threatening proper dental hygiene to confiding in his beloved ice cream bar that he’s had since he was a child.
Stimpy has problems of his own, being tasked with guarding the ever important history eraser button. Can Stimpy resist the urge to press that button? Will he avoid the temptation to push the beautiful, shiny, jolly candy-like button? Let’s allow Stimpy to speak for himself…
3) Sven Hoek
The whole magic nose goblin deal in this episode has always grossed me out, but that was part of the shows M.O., gross-out humor. But it doesn’t stop it from coming in at number three on my countdown, I absolutely love this episode that sees Ren’s cousin Sven coming to visit.
Tired of Stimpy’s ineptitude, Ren is relieved to have his cousin stop by the house, but is horrified to discover that Sven and Stimpy may as well be cousins themselves as their personalities match each other to a T.
You’d think Ren would have known or remembered this aspect of his family tree, but again the show isn’t necessarily about making sense, it’s hear to make us laugh and quote it incessantly. To this day, I’ll quote Ren’s “But first. Fiiiiirst!” prior to carrying out some menial task. I’ve never whizzed on the electric fence though, and neither should you.
2) Mad Dog Hoek
There are two distinct reasons I love this episode so much that pits the boys in a tag team wrestling match against the Lout brothers, Lump and Loaf.
First, there’s the use of Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse throughout the Lout brothers dismantling of Stimpy especially at the hands of the feared flying butt pliers. Powerhouse was the ringtone on my phone for a couple of years back in the early part of this decade, it’s a song that always puts a smile on my face no matter the situation.
The second reason I love this episode so much, is after the match is over Ren tries to offer a balanced and calm interview with the ring announcer until Stimpy tosses him aside and rapidly dives into a crazed old school wrestling promo, screaming and yelling and spouting nonsensical gibberish, like many of your favorite coked up wrestlers of the 80’s used to do, that I can’t help but laugh so hard I can’t breathe and have to clutch my sides in delighted agony.
1) Stimpy’s Invention
Here it is the big cheese (as opposed to the big sleep), numero uno for the best Ren and Stimpy episode ever. The episode that catapulted the show; in my opinion at least, into legendary status. It seriously has it all.
Ren’s insanity is magnified by a million when Stimpy feels that Ren is sad and puts all of his brain power, as limited as it may be, to developing a solution to make sure Ren is never sad again by creating the Happy Helmet. But, boxing Ren into a singular emotion just rockets him over the cliff.
If Mad Dog Hoek had me laughing until I couldn’t breathe, Stimpy’s Invention especially with that musical number at the end from our old pal Stinky Wizzleteats had me rolling until my ribs hurt and my body was shaking.
I told you I’d shoot, but you didn’t believe me! Why didn’t you believe me?! That’s very funny, a fly marrying a bumblebee. I’ll teach your grandmother to suck eggs. There are few songs across animation history that can match the hilarity and the insanity that is Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.
These were my seven favorite episodes and I didn’t have to Ask Dr. Stupid to come up with them either. I’m sure I’ve left a few of your favorites off the list, and if any of you Lurkers want to argue for episodes from seasons 3-5, I honestly tried watching a few of those and well…
No sir, I didn’t like it.
Jonathan may not be the granddaddy of all liars, but you can find him lurking around on Twitter.