During the 1980's, animator John Kristfalusi had been trapped in the same rut as animators during those days. A time in which animators had absolutely zero input in the creation or writing of the shows they were forced to put some semblance of life into by networks who would create new animated television shows out of a need for marketing. The result was that the state of animation as an medium for expression was well and truly dead.
Enter John Kristfalusi. Along with pioneering one of the first animated shows completely created and written by the cartoonists, he and his Spumco team created the most widely remembered and one of the most celebrated attempts to revitalize the animation industry with the incredibly groundbreaking "Ren and Stimpy Show"
So.... what the hell happened?
Immediately constrained by the limitations and the aggravation of censors and executives who would not allow the show to become what it truly had the potential to be, and a vast misunderstanding of the revolutionary concept of the "Creator-driven-cartoon" (A term that the network ironically coined), Kristfalusi and his team of animation revolutionists faced roadblock after frustrating roadblock from day one.
Finally, after 2 incredible seasons, and faced with the realization that their meddling was more trouble than it was worth, the network opted for a solution to this problem. However, their solution was one that only a network would think to make... They had removed the duties of working on the show away from Kristfalusi, and attempted to hire away his writers. However, the bulk of them remaining loyal, only a small handful of Spumco employees stayed on.
The result is the beginning of the end, chronicled with this set.
This set is far more educational than enjoyable, especially for most fans of The Ren and Stimpy Show.
Beginning halfway into season 2 (while Spumco episodes were in various production stages), and truly beginning with the 3rd set is when the downfall of the Ren and Stimpy show begins it's steady plummet into a sad, and miserable fate.
The beginning of Season 3 plainly shows the newly appointed company "Games Productions" running off of the vapors of old Spumco ideas, without any clear idea on how to utilize them.
Halfway into season three upon nearly running out of Spumco ideas to steal and re-hash is when the show plummets in every conceivable venture. As it soon begins to become apparent that fresh and interesting ideas have made way to generic plots, it's as if the team just stopped caring or trying.
At this point without a central director, with whole episodes having no directors, and only names used for those that oversaw more aspects of the cartoons than others in place of a Directors Credit. It is this set and the Seasons 4 and 5 set, of R&S that show glimmers of potential being washed down the drain. WIth no potential being left at the end save for a miserable and well deserved cancellation.
However, I should point out that despite my seemingly negative review of the episodes themselves, this set is far from illustrating the indignancies that The Ren and Stimpy Show would receive by seasons 4 and 5. Which makes this set worth picking uip along with one other all important saving grace:
The commentaries on this set, shows many of the original team watching and their reactions to the downward spiral of the show. But this is not all they do.
The commentaries are exceptionally insightful, offering glimpses of what Spumco's full ideas would have been, what they could have done, and the direction they were headed before the show took it's nosedive without them.
Most commentaries will prove to be INCREDIBLY insightful into the education of the process in which Ren and Stimpy were robbed of their formulas of success, and an incredible commentary for "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" which chronicles not only the demise of this show itself, but also a valuable history lesson about the decline of quality animation from the years of 1960 to 1990.
The set receives 3 stars out of 5 from me, because some fun can be dug up from witnessing the beginning of the end for the most original, and most revolutionary animated show of the 1990's.
Trust me... with the next set "Season Five and some more of Four" you will see worse. Much, much worse.