Is it too late to cover Adult Party Cartoon? Yeah, if you're gonna say what everyone else has said about it countless times before. Does this mean I'm gonna do a positive review? Well depends on your point of view on that. Plot thickens true believers. Also if the Ren and Stimpy reboot holds water, this is meant to coincide with the property becoming relevant again.
Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon is a pseudo continuation of the 90s staple The Ren and Stimpy Show, but this one is special, as it promised to not hold back on the humor the show was proud to have slipped by the censors. But that was not to be. It's the worst show ever, it killed the integrity of the characters who brought the original show to life, it led to John Kricfalusi to leaving the television industry cold turket, and it created a black hole that swallowed all of humanity to the point no other life could continue on.
Actually at least one of those was bullshit.
The show was a failure, that's undeniable. John wanted the show to demonstrate what he can do unrestrained, but the network wanted to push the envelope on a more extreme take to promote their upcoming animation block. In a way, this wound up looking bad on John's part because a lack of restraint wound up leading to a lack of merit. It seems a stark percentage of the show's critics happened to be fans of the original show, but what about outsiders?
John Kricfalusi was kicked off of the Ren and Stimpy Show after that show's second season, owed in part to missing deadlines and him pushing for far too much for the network. His departure led to a black hole that swallowed- I mean episodes that apparently sucked. But it didn't, I think people just want to diss the Games era episodes to sound smart.
John kept by through independent content and commercial work, but would try his hand at television again with the Ripping Friends in 2001, before that bit it too. But then the winds of luck blew his way. After a country station began a shift to more mainstream content (and by that I mean stuff for the b-movie and edgelord crowd), they would gradually turn into Spike TV.
As it and Nickelodeon were owned by the same company, John got an opportunity to revive the show in his own way, freed from the restraints of censorship due to the demographic Spike was heavily aiming for, and no one wanted this more than the network. Though in some way, their ideas seemed more like suggestions that John went for, either that or he was pressured to drive the point home how networks feel about adults.
The failure of the show can be attributed to a lack of faith in the intelligence of the grown ass men who they cater to, and questions to whether or not John is more than the sum of his squishy parts. Six episodes were ordered, but thanks to, you guessed it, delays, and low ratings, it died off after three episodes, meaning even the network came to their senses so to speak, and John did ultimately hate what came out of it. Billy West notably refused to take part in the show feeling it'll kill his career, the guy's a regular Nostradamus.
But what really brought John K. to the curb was a lawsuit by a subcontractor that killed his production company. What really killed his career wouldn't happen for some time after, and for the sake of not being biased, I won't bring it up.
Adult Party Cartoon was, ironically, my first introduction to Ren and Stimpy, I caught it through commercials when I watched Spike TV with my family during the late nights as a kid. I had also watched The Simpsons and The Sopranos, which probably explains my warped perspective on media and life. Just for the record, my first exposure to Ren and Stimpy proper was Lair of the Lummox, which I caught when I pulled my first all nighter when watching Nicktoons Network.
So About The Show
As blasphemous as it is for me to say, the show still has the spirit of the original, but it also has a lot more swearing and gross-out. Now sure, the latter had appeared in the original as well, dare I say to a similar result in either era, but both at large are just desperate attempts at appealing to older audiences, though really they alienate them because they believe the show is taking them for drooling Eeediots.
And that can really account for the show as a whole, it's just the original with some unfortunate inclusions, and a case for why there's such a thing as executive meddling. Express yourself, but limit yourself from going too far, otherwise the prospect will be tainted.
What made the original show work was subtlety when it came to more adult jokes. Writers would try their hardest to let whatever they could slip by standards and practices, which would pay off when older viewers would look back and pick up on what they were going for. Without any restraint, you're basically left with whether or not you wanna sit through half an hour of frankly repetitive depravity.
Ren and Stimpy have also faced some degradation, being stripped down to basic traits just to push the tone the network wanted. You know those kinds of shows that feature two best friends who live with and do everything together? This show is basically pushing the gay undertones implied, like, to a very obvious extent. I'm all for same sex relationships, but if their reason for being is to drive an edge factor, it comes off as hollow in the long run.
But let's get to the elephant in the room, that one episode spoken in incredibly loud whispers, review fodder for the easily offended, Ren Seeks Help. I have seen the episode twice, it wasn't my first introduction to this show, it was the first episode, and sure I get where it went horribly wrong, but I wasn't really offended, even if I knew what the show used to be.
The way I see Ren and Stimpy is that every episode is in a bubble. It has no set continuity, anything can happen and none would be the wiser. I can buy one bubble that has Ren as a sociopathic... whatever for one episode, and technically when he killed Mr. Horse it was part self-defense and part insanity.
In regards to the spirit, I can compare Ren and Stimpy's time with Ralph Bakshi in Fire Dogs 2 to their interaction with Wilbur Cobb in terms of the lingering sense of discomfort, though Fire Dogs 2 pales in comparison due to how long it dragged on.
I haven't seen the second half of the episodes, the ones that didn't air, though I imagine Naked Beach Frenzy to be blunt with what it has to offer. I at the very least saw the episodes people initially did, the ones that made it to air.
I will say this about the show, I kinda enjoyed Eric Bauza's take on Stimpy. You could never get the same results with a different guy, but Bauza came close. In spite of John returning to voice Ren, having previously done so in the first two seasons of the original show, it doesn't sound the same. This is a plus because it can help mark a means of separation between the two shows.
The show has the same level of animation as the original one, at least in spirit. The characters are more expressive here than they have any right to be, though it does amplify what the writers were going for here. If anything, the animation is the closest you could get to an objective plus. Though it seems they put more time on the characters than the backgrounds and other stuff most of the time. I noticed a background glitch in at least one episode. Priorities.
Yes, Adult Party Cartoon is a bad show and born out of a lack of foresight, fed by a network that were basically clueless to what adults were into and neutered of the subtlety and implicative nature that made the original show so groundbreaking. I mean come on, the original Ren and Stimpy could've been aired on Spike and none would be the wiser, the last few new episodes aired on MTV of all places.
Oh yeah, along with Adult Party Cartoon, Spike aired episodes of the original Ren and Stimpy as well, but then again without any reason the episodes would've lacked a reason for being there. To put it into perspective, this was part of a dedicated animation block which at large only had two other shows. I imagine it would've been dull if Ren and Stimpy made up a stark glut of the block.
I get why people hate the show, but I was able to get past that because I saw this and the original as entirely separate from one another. Take everything you know about Ren and Stimpy and forget it, and you're just left with an edgy show that can either overstay its welcome or provide some half hours of discomfort.
When you take into account the more twisted nature of most Ren and Stimpy episodes, Adult Party Cartoon only amps it up a little higher, at least in terms of the shock, the gross out is otherwise more of the same, if not overkill.
Since only six episodes were ever made, it could make for a fun little binge to see how far you could make it. The first half for beginners, the second half for the intermediate.
At large, Adult Party Cartoon is a case for moderate restraint, and proof that the creator can't always make the best choices for their own creation. But Cans Without Labels is proof that there are worse things in this world.
At the very least Adult Party Cartoon wasn't on Kickstarter and we didn't pay money to see it.