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Twenty-five years ago today, iconic shows Rugrats, Doug and Ren & Stimpy all premiered on Nickelodeon. Back then, animation was new territory for the network and the emergence of these now-classic shows was considered experimental. At a time when Disney was the front-runner in animation, here came along Nickelodeon exec Vanessa Coffey, who acted as a consultant for Nick’s foray into cartoons. We can thank her creative and out-of-the-box vision as the reason we were blessed with these shows in the ’90s.
Today, as we celebrate the shows that made our childhood that much more memorable, the creators of Rugrats, Doug and Ren & Stimpy share their ideas of what could happen if they all got rebooted.
Creators Paul Germain, Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo were working on the early seasons of The Simpsons before Nickelodeon reached out to them to create a show. The premise was simple: If babies could talk, what would they say? According to Nickelodeon, they said nine seasons, three movies and a spin-off.
Germain and Klasky agree that our favourite gang of toddlers can definitely come back, but both have differing ideas on how they’d come back. According to Germain, who left the series after the first 65 episodes, it’s up to Nickelodeon to decide if the show should be rebooted. In his opinion, Rugrats should go back to its roots.
“I think the way to go would be to take it back to where it was. I don’t know if we could really do that, but that’s what I would like to see. I think it’s possible,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Klasky on the other hand, believes the technological advances over the last 25 years should be integrated into the show if it’s revised: “The core of this story is about these kids’ little souls and how they’re feeling. So I think if you have that, but skewed with all the technology and what the world is like now […] I think it can only be fun.”
You may not have known Doug’s original name was Brian. Jim Jinkins created the character from his own childhood experiences. His childhood crush was named Patti, Skeeter was based on his best friend and Roger was an older kid who lived down the street. By the time he walked into the studios, he had every character laid out.
In 1996, Disney bought the rights to Doug and according to Jinkins, they have no plans to revitalize the classic tween dramedy. Despite this, Jinkins has started a screenplay that revisits the characters 10 years after show ends.
“I haven’t written the whole screenplay, but some stories are written,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Skeeter’s his roommate. Judy would be a performance artist off, off, off Broadway, just kind of doing weird stuff.”
But what all the fans want to know is: Do Doug and his lifelong crush Patti end up together? Jinkins says it’s not likely. “It doesn’t happen because, really, most people don’t end up with their first love,” he said, sharing the story about he reconnected with the real Patti 10 years after they graduated high school. The real Patti invited Jinkins to her place for dinner and shortly after, Jinkins found out that she was married.
Ren & Stimpy had its start right here in Canada. Creator John Kricfalusi developed the characters while attending Sheridan College in Ontario in the ’70s. Originally, the agitated dog and dim-witted cat we grew to love were merely pets to a gang of human characters. After refocusing it on Ren and Stimpy, it was picked up as a funny animal show for the network.
The edgy show had its share of controversy behind the scenes. Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon had a falling out due to the nature of the show, which irreparably severed ties between them. In 2003, it got revised as an adult-oriented show on Spike, but only survived two months.
“Had I owned Ren & Stimpy, we’d still be making them today. There’d be 20 years worth of Ren & Stimpy and it would have naturally evolved,” Kricfalusi told Machinima in 2012. Despite Kricfalusi’s wishes, it’s very unlikely Nickelodeon will ever pick it up again.
If Nickelodeon can bring back Hey Arnold!, there’s still hope for these shows. We’ll be waiting.