9 July 2002 | Hancock_the_Superb
Part Two: Post-1994
. . .
In 1997, at fans' urgings, Klasky-Csupo, with a more complex soundtrack and somewhat better looking animation, brought back Rugrats after a three-year hiatus.
Though not as classic as the old show, it still managed to maintain some of the charm and energy of the original series. A few of the better episodes which somewhat harkened back to the older series, including "Radio Daze", a spoof of the old Dick Tracy radio shows, and such typically whimsical episodes as "Send in the Clouds" and "Dust Bunnies". All episodes were enjoyable; even "The Family Tree", the set-up for the first Rugrats movie, was decent. In 1998, however, two tragedies befell the rugrats, sending them into a void from which they would never emerge.
First, the brilliant voice of Grandpa Lou, David Doyle, died. For fans of the actor or of his character, his last episode on the show, "Lady Luck", while hardly classic, should be cherished as his magnum opus. This left a void in the show which could never be completely fufilled. The replacement, Joe Alasky, tries hard but sounds more like he's drunk and suffocating than the much older Doyle did. Even the relatively annoying Alasky nonetheless held the show together well enough. But even he couldn't save the show from the next catastrophie.
Personally, I felt Rugrats was FINE. Most fans found it FINE. Even kids did. The show's creators should've stopped while they had a modicum of respectablity and originality left, in 1998. But:
At the end of the two-part "Family Tree", Didi reveals to Stu that's she's pregnant. Oh boy. Well, this still isn't necessarily a bad thing; it can be saved. If they could make an at least interesting new character, than perhaps the show's existance could be prolonged for the better.
But, in the at-best mediocre "The Rugrats Movie", we're introduced to Dylan Prescot (Dill) Pickles. Hah hah, great joke. We get it, not funny, boo.
But what's even worse is that Dill is a screaming piece of crap. Literally. He's there simply to be cute (which he's not) and to make poop jokes (hah hah!). He abuses the other rugrats (especially brother Tommy), walks around in a surrealistic walker (the "Kangaroo", or something equally absurd), poops himself, and says stupid baby talk. Now the babies are forced to babysit Dill. Whoo, what fun!
But even worse is that the adult characters are dumbed down. In the 1991-1994 - and, to a lesser extent, from '97-98 - they were humans. They had real concerns. They acted realistically. Well, they were a bit negligent, but they weren't too contrived. They are instead reduced to spouting stupid one-liners and observations. Their previous portrayal provide the framework, but not the characters, of the adults. Their characterization in these later seasons simply plays upon the cliches established in the earlier episodes ('97-98 included).
In "Still Babies After All These Years", creator Gabor Csupo claimed that they invented Dill so that there would be someone even "less evolved than the other rugrats". Yeah, right. Those of us over the age of seven or who have IQs higher than -10 can see that you were just doing this for money. Make the show run on and on. Get dumber characters and plot lines. Milk that cow as much as you can.
By 1999, however, Klasky-Csupo had, shockingly, already gotten tired of Dill. So, they made "Rugrats In Paris".
Personally, I find nothing wrong with the film itself - it had a good plot, funny jokes (especially the "Godfather" references), and a great voice cast. Well, actually, yes, I do:
Grandpa Lou got married; Lulu (oh, match up similar names, whoohoo, funny!) is the wife's name. Now, Chaz gets married, too. Kira, the mother, and Kimi, the daughter, two typically PC Japanese characters, join the family. Oh, and there's a dumb dog. Spike, the dog, falls in love with Kira and Kimi's dumb dog and it's just stupid.
What little respectability the Rugrats had maintained following Dill's addition (not much at all, with "Submarine" being the only episode that was even tolerable - ruined, of course, by Dill) was gone. Now, the cash hogs at Nick are caving into to the stupid kids' demands. Why does the majority have to be stupid?
So, Rugrats just barrels on into oblivion. It is doomed to implode in on itself, like the dreams of Ms. Bitters. There may be more movies, and the series shows no signs of stopping. Rugrats was inducted onto the Hollywood Walk-Of-Fame - I don't know whether to be happy or sad.
And then, in July 2001, a last-ditch effort to save Rugrats occured. The grand redoubting of the tyrant Klasky-Csupo - which has destroyed such great shows as "Aah! Real Monsters!" (actually one of their own), "Rocko's Modern Life", and now, "Invader Zim"(!), brings us: teenage rugrats! Lame, lame, LAME! That's all I have to say. The only thing different is that the babies interact with the adults. Whoo-hoo.
So here Rugrats is: from great show to money-starved pig. Enough said.