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JJWeatherman

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Cartoon Retrospective: Rugrats

For anyone reading this that's not informed: I'm writing a series of blogs about cartoons. My loose plan is to feature one cartoon per blog and tell you--dear reader--why I love each featured cartoon. We can then proceed to recall the 'good ole days' of our respective youths.

Full series:

  • Part 1 -- "Hey Arnold!"
  • Part 2 -- "The Magic School Bus"
  • Part 3 -- "Rugrats"
  • Part 4 -- "Spider-Man" (You're reading it!)

Rugrats

I'm not going to mention Reptar in this blog, but there he is down in the corner. Enjoy that.
I'm not going to mention Reptar in this blog, but there he is down in the corner. Enjoy that.

Surprise, surprise. I was a child of the 90s, and I watched Rugrats. Is Rugrats super played out this day and age? Maybe, but it doesn't change the fact that Rugrats was one of my favorite cartoons as a wee lad. Having gone back to watch a few episodes of it on YouTube, it actually holds up. That may or may not be pure nostalgia talking, but I enjoyed reliving some episodes none the less. I'm finding, as I write these blogs, a common denominator between my favorite cartoons. That denominator being: super memorable and unique characters.

Spike was a G
Spike was a G

Rugrats is obviously no exception, as many of you I'm sure remember. The characters are endless: Tommy, the fearless leader; Chuckie, the scaredy-cat; the always fighting twins, Phil and Lil; and Angelica, the older bully. Those are the most prominent characters, but there are other just as memorable characters that appear throughout the series such as: Susie, friend to the babies; Kimi, Chuckie's step-sister; Dil, Tommy's baby brother; Tommy's parents and grandpa, Stu, Didi, and Lou; Phil and Lil's Parents, Betty and Howard; Chuckie's dad, Chaz; and of course the dog, Spike.

Best buds! :D
Best buds! :D

Whew, that was quite a few characters. If I had to choose two that I most closely related with growing up though, it's hands down Tommy and Chuckie. In the show, Tommy and Chuckie are almost polar opposites. Tommy finds adventure and danger to be exciting, while Chuckie wants nothing to do with it. This dynamic ends up playing a big part in most of the episodes. When I was young I had a friend that was similar to Tommy, and as you may have guessed, I was more on the Chuckie side growing up. I can recall a specific moment when my friend and I were getting our usual adventure on, and exploring the local wilderness. There was a spot, where in order to get through, we would need to cross these super thorny bushes. I wanted nothing to do with it, but my friend tried his best to convince me by saying "Come on. Are you a Tommy, or a Chuckie?" So then I thought to myself for a minute before coming to the conclusion that "eff this, I'm a Tommy!". We then both proceeded to trample through this treacherous patch of thorn bushes. Minor scrapes and scratches may have been acquired. That just goes to show you: Kids that watch Rugrats learn to make stupid decisions! :P

I think a very large reason I liked Rugrats as a kid--and continue to like it--is the incredible ability to relate with the babies. Everything that they do--no matter how crazy or magical--is something that I too most probably did as a kid. The show has a great way of capturing the delightful thoughts of blissfully ignorant babies. A good example is an episode where Tommy's dad Stu decided to order an extravagant and complicated toy for the babies. This toy ends up being more trouble to put together than it's worth, but that doesn't stop each of the babies imaginations from running wild with the box that the toy came in. Each of the babies has their own box fantasy, and it's just an absolutely perfect example to me of how kids think, and I love it. I know I was that way as a kid as well. This episode's on YouTube, so check it out!

There was another episode in which Tommy's grandpa fakes that he is sick with a "bug" in order to get out of trouble, and out of doing yard work. The babies hear about the "bug" and naturally think that there's a real creepy crawly bug inside Tommy's grandpa. It's moments like this that makes this show so terrific, as the babies come to the conclusion that the only way to get the bad bug out of grandpa, is to get a whole bunch of "good" bugs from the back yard, and have them fight (!) the bad bug. How amazing is that?! Whoever writes these episodes is a great person. The simplistic logic of the babies in nearly every episode, and how that leads to interesting events, is always top-notch.

Nine years older and wiser does not make them more fun. :(
Nine years older and wiser does not make them more fun. :(

I can't write about the Rugrats though without bringing up it's attempt to grow up with it's audience. That's right, I'm talking about the "All Grown Up!" spin off. In this cartoon, Tommy, Chuckie, and the rest of the gang are now several years older as the title suggests. To be honest, I didn't watch a lot of this series; It just didn't appeal to me nearly as much without the things I mentioned earlier, like the babies simple (yet amazing) logic. It could very well be a case of people not taking too kindly to change, but I have only heard negative things about the "All Grown Up!" show. It's sad really that the series had to go out on this kind of note, but it doesn't take away all the great original series episodes. Maybe I'll see if I can find a couple of the "All Grown Up!" episodes on YouTube to see what I think about it. That's not a high priority though; I'm perfectly happy looking back on the original cartoon, which was without a doubt one of my favorite shows as a child.

As always, feel free to share your own Rugrats memories. Cartoon memories in general are always welcome too. :)

<3

--JJWeatherman

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