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Rugrats is an American animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, and Paul Germain for Nickelodeon. The show focuses on a group of toddlers, most prominently Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica, and their day-to-day lives, usually involving common life experiences that become adventures in the babies' imaginations. Adults in the series are almost always unaware of what the children are up to; however, this only provides more room for the babies to explore and discover their surroundings.

The series premiered on August 11, 1991, as the second Nicktoon after Doug and preceding The Ren & Stimpy Show. Production initially halted in 1993 after 65 episodes, with the last one airing on May 22, 1994. From 1995 to 1996, the only new episodes broadcast were "A Rugrats Passover" and "A Rugrats Chanukah", two heavily Jewish-themed episodes that both received much critical praise. New Rugrats episodes began airing regularly again in 1997, and The Rugrats Movie, which introduced the character of Tommy's younger brother Dil, was released in November 1998. A sequel titled Rugrats in Paris: The Movie came about in 2000, and the infant character Kimi and her mother Kira were added to the series' cast. Rugrats Go Wild, a crossover film with fellow Nicktoon The Wild Thornberrys, was released in 2003 to mixed reviews. The final episode aired on June 8, 2004, bringing the series to a total of 172 episodes and 9 seasons.

On August 11, 2001, Nickelodeon broadcast the made-for-TV special "All Growed Up" in celebration of the series' 10th anniversary. The special acted as a pilot for the Rugrats spinoff series All Grown Up!, which appropriately chronicles the lives of the babies and their parents after aging 10 years. Another spinoff series, Rugrats Pre-School Daze was considered, but only four episodes made it past production. Two direct-to-video specials have also been produced under the title Rugrats Tales from The Crib. Tie-in media for the series include video games, comics, toys, and various other merchandise.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Rugrats was formed by the then husband-and-wife duo of Gábor Csupó and Arlene Klasky, along with Paul Germain in 1989. Klasky-Csupo had a major animation firm at the time which also provided services for commercials and music videos. Klasky, Csupó, and Germain were also animating The Simpsons at the time, which they would continue to do until 1992. The trio decided to create their own series in reaction to a proclamation by the children's cable network Nickelodeon that they were to launch their own line of animated shows, which would be later called Nicktoons. With the comedic stimulation branching from the antics of Klasky and Csupó's infant children, the 612–minute pilot episode, "Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing" (never to be aired), went into production.

Peter Chung, along with Klasky and Csupó, co-designed the characters and directed the series pilot, "Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing," as well as the opening sequence. The production was completed in 1990 and they submitted it to Nickelodeon, who tested it with an audience of children. The feedback for the pilot episode was primarily positive. With that, the series went into production. Chuckie and Angelica were added as characters.

Paul Germain felt that the series needed a bully. Angelica was based on a bully in Germain's childhood, who was a girl. In addition to that, it was Germain who decided that Angelica would be a spoiled brat. Klasky initially did not like Angelica Pickles and also protested the character's actions in episodes like "Barbecue Story", where she throws Tommy's ball over the fence.

In a New York article, Klasky said, "I think she's a bully. I never liked Angelica." She never fully approved of Angelica's character development. Her bullying caused Klasky to disdain her. Angelica started to become a problem for the some of the Rugrats staff. In some instances, her voice, Cheryl Chase, had trouble portraying a mean Angelica. To help Chase out, Steve Viksen, one of the writers, would mention that Angelica was the series's J.R. Ewing.

After the episode "The Trial," Klasky complained that the Rugrats were starting to act too old for their age. Csupó often acted as a mediator in arguments between Klasky and the writers, with the writers often winning. Some of the offscreen tensions ultimately found their way into the scripts and, naturally, into the show. In 1993, shortly before Nick premiered the last of the original 65, production of new episodes went on hiatus, and most of the Rugrats writing team left Klasky-Csupo. After the first run days were over, Nick had enough episodes to show every day, and did just that in 1994, scheduling the show in the early evening, when both kids and parents would be watching. After three years of repeats, the show went back into production. However, the tensions between Klasky-Csupo and their former writers still existed.

After The Rugrats Movie and seeing the "new" Angelica in the film, Klasky changed her tune: "I think she's great for the show; I love Angelica."

NicktoonsEdit

Rugrats was Nickelodeon's second Nicktoon, debuting on the same day as Doug (which premiered before it) and The Ren & Stimpy Show (which debuted after). The first run of the series was produced from 1991 to 1994 before production went on a hiatus (episodes that had not yet been released at that point continued to be released through 1995). Between 1995 and 1996, only two Jewish-themed specials were aired, and the rest of the series aired in reruns. Production on new episodes restarted in 1997, and the show aired in Nickelodeon's SNICK block from 1997 to 2000. From 1994 until 2012, Rugrats was Nickelodeon's longest-running Nicktoon, with 172 episodes produced across its thirteen-year run. It was surpassed in 2012 by SpongeBob SquarePants when that series aired its 173rd episode that year.

On August 11, 2001, Rugrats celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The special/TV movie, "All Growed Up" was produced for the occasion. After the show, a special retrospective lookback aired, entitled "Rugrats: Still Babies After All These Years." It was narrated by Amanda Bynes. Nickelodeon approved of its ratings and popularity so much, they eventually commissioned a full series, All Grown Up, which ran from 2003 to 2008.

Rugrats ended in 2004, along with fellow Nicktoon Hey Arnold!. After the run, two fairy-tale themed direct-to-video films based on the original series under the title, Rugrats: Tales from the Crib were produced and then released separately in 2005 and in 2006.

Voice actorsEdit

Through its full run, Rugrats occupied several main voice actors. E.G. Daily provided the voice of Tommy Pickles, except in the unaired pilot where Tami Holbrook provided the voice; Christine Cavanaugh was the original voice of Chuckie Finster, but left after 2001 for personal reasons and was subsequently replaced by Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson) in 2002. The fraternal twins, Phil and Lil (as well as their mother, Betty) were voiced by Kath Soucie; Dil Pickles (and Timmy McNulty) were voiced by Tara Strong (voice of Timmy Turner). Cheryl Chase initially auditioned for the role of Tommy, but was passed up. When the show came to series, she was brought on board to be cast as the voice of Angelica Pickles. Dionne Quan was the voice of Kimi Finster, however as she is legally blind, in order to do the voice, the producers had to interpret the scripts into Braille, so she could read them by sensing the bumps with her fingers. Susie was primarily voiced by Cree Summer, though in two episodes where she could not be in attendance E.G. Daily filled in. Other regular voice actors included Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles, Jack Riley as Stu Pickles, Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles, and Michael Bell as Drew Pickles and Chas Finster. David Doyle provided the voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles until his death in 1997, where Joe Alaskey took over till the end of the series. In 2000, Debbie Reynolds joined the cast as Lulu Pickles, Lou's second wife, and remained until the series' end.

Episode productionEdit

With Rugrats it usually took a few months to make an episode, for the story has to get written, and then approved. The next process consisted of voice recording, storyboarding, pre-eliminating animation, overseas production & delivery, editing and polishing. All of that had to happen even before Klasky-Csupo sent the master tapes to Nick. In addition, fine animation took time to make. During the first six seasons of Rugrats, shows were primarily divided into two eleven-minute episodes. After the second movie, during season seven,Rugrats made a change with a different format that consisted of three episodes per show, though it returned to its original two-episode-per-show format in the final two seasons.

CharactersEdit

The series focuses on the experiences of a courageous, adventurous one-year-old baby named Tommy Pickles and his group of playmates – several other infants and toddlers, some of whom debuted later in the series. Chuckie, Tommy's bespectacled, redheaded, insecure cowardly best friend; the twins Phil and Lil, noted for their revolting eccentricities and love of digging for and eating insects and earthworms; Tommy's baby brother Dil; Angelica, Tommy and Dil's outrageously spoiled, selfish older cousin and the main antagonist of the program; Kimi, Chuckie's adventurous, playful stepsister (introduced in Rugrats in Paris); and Susie, Angelica's schoolmate and kindhearted, understanding rival who is better liked by the infants and far more reliable than Angelica.

The other characters depicted in Rugrats, include the babies' parents, who are portrayed as often being easily-distracted, leaving their young children free to emancipate themselves from restraints such as playpens or strollers and venture out for to explore. Such adult figures include Didi and Stu Pickles, Tommy and Dil's mother and father. Didi is a sweet, educated, loving mother who decides to return to college in one episode. Stu is an often-feckless toy inventor whose designs have been known to either fail or break. Other parents include Chas Finster, Chuckie's stereotypically-nerdy, mild-mannered father a widower who later remarries; Kira, Chuckie's sweet-natured, kind, and understanding stepmother who Chas marries in Rugrats in Paris; Drew Pickles, Angelica's indulgent, doting father who pampers his daughter to a ridiculous degree; Charlotte Pickles, Angelica's working mother who overindulges her daughter equally if often seen arguing on her cellular phone with an employee of hers named Jonathan; Betty DeVille, Phil and Lil's kind but masculinely-natured mother; and Howard DeVille, the twins' mild-mannered, soft-spoken father.

Susie's parents and elder siblings also make appearances in some episodes, and another major adult character includes Lou Pickles, Drew and Stu's father and Tommy, Angelica, and Dil's grandfather; an elderly widower who later remarries with an active woman named Lulu. Didi's parents, Jewish foreigners named Boris and Minka, also appear numerous times and serve as important characters and are often seen bickering. Other characters of include the Pickles family dog, Spike, who has played important roles in some episodes, and Angelica's pet cat Fluffy.

EpisodesEdit

Season Episodes Originally
aired
DVD release
date
Premiere Finale
1 13 1991-1992 June 2, 2009 August 11, 1991 May 24, 1992
2 26 1992-1993 June 2, 2009 (eps. 1-13) September 6, 1992 May 9, 1993
3 26 1993-1995 September 23, 2011 September 26, 1993 April 13, 1995
4 17 1996-1997 September 23, 2011 December 6, 1996 December 31, 1997
5 12 1997-1998 October 4, 2011 November 29, 1997 September 17, 1998
6 36 1998-2000 October 6, 2011 November 21, 1998 March 7, 2000
7 14 2001 October 6, 2011 January 15, 2001 May 13, 2001
8 14 2001-2003 October 6, 2011 July 21, 2001 March 1, 2003
9 14 2002-2004 October 6, 2011 ("The Best of") December 21, 2002 June 8, 2004

SettingEdit

Many of the adventures the babies find themselves in take place at Tommy's house; the parents usually rely on Didi, Stu, or Grandpa Lou to babysit the kids while they run errands. Their address is revealed on an invoice in "Tommy's First Birthday" (season one, 1991) as 1258 N. Highland, the original address of Klasky Csupo in Los Angeles. However, a specific city or state is never mentioned in the show. Several indicators, such as a state flag at a post office, license plate designs on the vehicles, and various trips to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the beach, place the characters somewhere in southern California. The location is also hinted at during "Little Dude" (season one, 1991) when Didi, who is a teacher, takes Tommy to her class at Eucaipah High School, referencing the city of Yucaipa, California. It has been implied that this ambiguity was done intentionally to help give the impression of seeing the world through the eyes of the babies, who wouldn't understand the concept of location. The DeVilles live next door to the Pickles and early in the series the Carmichaels move in across the street.

ThemesEdit

Rugrats visualizes ordinary, everyday activities through the eyes of a group of toddlers. Using their imaginations, the babies transform routine tasks into surprising adventures. The show plays with baby talk, having the group constantly mispronounce words and use improper grammar. Challenges often emerge because the babies misinterpret the adults, usually caused by Angelica's deceptive translations. The grown-ups of Rugrats are simultaneously quirky, over-cautious, and oblivious. The series portrays adults as mysterious eccentrics. Episodes usually center on a moral lesson that the babies learn during their imaginative explorations. Angelica serves as a negative influence on the show but her attempts to mislead the babies are always foiled.

DVD releasesEdit

Nickelodeon and Amazon.com have struck a deal to produce DVDs of new and old Nickelodeon shows, through the CreateSpace service. Using a concept similar to print on demand, Amazon made the discs, cover art, and disc art itself. The first and second seasons of Rugrats were released on June 2, 2009, along with The Fairly OddParents first and second seasons (although the second Rugrats set contains only the first half of the Season 2 episodes). Season 3 and 4 were released on September 23, 2011, through the CreateSpace program. Season 5 was released shortly after on October 4. On October 6, 2011, the complete Seasons 6-8 were released through CreateSpace, and Season 9 was released in a "Best of" collection.

Complete Seasons

DVD name Ep# Release date
Season 1 13 June 2, 2009
Best of Season 2 13 June 2, 2009
Season 3 26 September 23, 2011
Season 4 17 September 23, 2011
Season 5 12 October 4, 2011
Season 6 28 October 6, 2011
Season 7 18 October 6, 2011
Season 8 13 October 6, 2011
Best of Season 9 14 October 6, 2011

Other releases

DVD name Ep# Release date
Decade in Diapers 11 September 24, 2002
Mysteries 8 January 28, 2003
Rugrats Holiday Celebration 12 August 31, 2004
Rugrats Movie Trilogy Collection 3 March 15, 2011
Rugrats: Halloween 1 September 20, 2011

Nick Picks DVDs

  • Nick Picks Volume 1: Finsterella
  • Nick Picks Volume 2: All Growed Up
  • Nick Picks Holiday: The Santa Experience

Other mediaEdit

FilmsEdit

In 1998, The Rugrats Movie was released, which introduced baby Dil, Tommy's little brother, onto the show. It grossed in worldwide results, $140,894,675, making it a very large box office success, considering its modest $24 million budget, though it also received mixed reviews from critics. In 2000 a sequel, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, was released, with two new characters introduced, Kimi and Kira. Kimi would become Chuckie's sister and Kira would become his new mother, after marrying his father. It too was a box office success and also received a more positive critical reception. In 2003, Rugrats Go Wild was released. It was a crossover between the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys. It was the least successful Rugrats film both critically and commercially.

Video gamesEdit

Nineteen video games based on the series.