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Rugrats is an American animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain for Nickelodeon. The series premiered on August 11, 1991, and aired its last episode on August 1, 2004.

The show focuses on a group of toddlers and their day-to-day lives, usually involving common life experiences that become adventures in the babies' imaginations.[3][4] It was one of the first three Nicktoons and also aired on Nick Jr. in 1995.

CharactersEdit

Main article: List of Rugrats charactersThe show originally revolved around four children (three boys and one girl) and a dog. The fearless brave leader Thomas "Tommy" Pickles (whose family moved from Akron, Ohio to their current location in California), the cautious toddler Charles "Chuckie" Finster who reluctantly agreed to venture out into the open, unsafe areas of the house, the twin-infants Phillip "Phil" and Lillian "Lil" DeVille who were ready for a new challenge, and Spike, Tommy's dog. The toddlers are able to communicate with each other through baby speak, although viewers can understand them, because it is 'translated'. A running gag in the show is that they mispronounce words or use poor grammar and their speaking is full of malapropisms. An example of this is using the word "poopetrator" instead of "perpetrator" in "The Trial" episode. The group is often reluctantly joined by Tommy's cousin, Angelica Pickles. At three years old, Angelica is able to communicate and understand language from both the toddlers and the adults, which she often uses as an advantage when she wants to manipulate either party. She is usually very mean to the babies. Susie Carmichael, who lives across the street from the Pickles, is also able to communicate on the same level as Angelica, though she is not manipulative. As a result of this, as well as being favored by the babies, she often clashes with Angelica.[5]

After The Rugrats Movie (1998), in which Tommy's baby brother Dylan "Dil" Pickles is born, he was soon added as a character on the show. As an infant, Dil is not able to communicate with anyone, including the other toddlers; once he joined the series as a regular, he aged to four months and was given rudimentary communication skills. Later after Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000) was released, Kimi Finster was added as a character. She is Chuckie's stepsister.[6]

Leaving the safety of their own playpen, the children would explore their surroundings and try to make sense out of what the adults are doing. The babies often manage to get away with meandering off and going on escapades, for the reason that Tommy’s daddy, Stu, is more often than not trying to create toys downstairs in the basement. Tommy's mother, Didi, is normally reading the most modern good-parenting guide too actively to take any kind of notice, and his paternal grandfather, Lou, is customarily sleeping in front of the television, oblivious to their antics.[7] While most of the time, the babies are in their playpen, they always manage to get out using a plastic screwdriver Tommy keeps in his diaper (unbeknownst to any of the adults). When they create any kind of mess or visible damage, they are almost never seen as the instigators, due to them being babies. If an older person is in the vicinity of the mess (usually Angelica), that individual is held accountable. The most treacherous escapade the babies embarked occurred in The Rugrats Movie where they got lost in the forest going against a man-eating wolf and a pack of circus monkeys determined to steal their baby food.

The Pickles are a mixed Jewish-Christian family. There are two episodes that reflect the Pickles' Jewish heritage, one episode deals with the Passover holiday and the other with Hanukkah (in addition to episodes about Christmas, Easter, Kwanzaa, etc.).[8][9]

OriginsEdit

Rugrats was formed by the then husband-and-wife duo of Gabor Csupo 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, Csupo, 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 Csupo's infant children, the 612–minute pilot episode, "Tommy Pickles & the Great White Thing" (never to be aired), went into production.

Peter Chung, along with Klasky and Csupo, 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. Arlene Klasky, one of the show's creators initially did not like Angelica Pickles. Klasky also protested Angelica's actions in episodes like "Barbecue Story" (where she threw Tommy's ball over the fence).

In a New Yorker article, Klasky said, "I think she's a bully. I never liked Angelica." Klasky never fully approved of her character development. Her bullying caused Arlene 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. Csupo 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 ceased, 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 will be watching. After 3 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."[10]

ProductionEdit

Rugrats was Nickelodeon's second Nicktoon, debuting on the same day as Doug (which premiered before it) and The Ren and Stimpy Show (which debuted after). The first run of the series was produced from 1991 to 1993 before production went on a hiatus (episodes that had not yet been released at that point continued to be released through 1994). 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. As of 2011, it is the longest-lasting Nicktoon to date, at over fourteen years longevity, and did not cease airing new episodes until 2004. In terms of number of episodes, it is still in first, but by 2012 it will be surpassed by SpongeBob SquarePants, which will have 178 episodes by the end of its eighth season, barring a Rugrats revival or a SpongeBob cancellation; SpongeBob reached Rugrats in terms of years on air on February 29, 2012.[11]

On August 11, 2001, Rugrats celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The special/TV movie, Rugrats: 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 (about 70% of viewers with cable tuned in), 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 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. 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.[12] 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 Chaz 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 7, 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.[13]

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of Rugrats episodes===Other projects=== Main article: All Grown Up!Main article: Rugrats Pre-School Daze==DVD releases== 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 contained only the first half of the Season 2 episodes).[14] Season 3 and 4 were released on September 23, 2011, through the CreateSpace program.[15] Season 5 was released shortly after on October 4.[16] On October 6, 2011, the complete Seasons 6-8 were released through CreateSpace, and Season 9 was released in a "Best of" collection.[17]

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
Rugrats Holiday Celebration 12 August 31, 2004[18]
Rugrats Movie Trilogy Collection 3 March 15, 2011[19]
Rugrats: Halloween 1 September 20, 2011[20]

Nick Picks DVDsEdit

These 2 Rugrats episodes were released on the Nick Picks DVDs.

  • Nick Picks Volume 1: Finsterella
  • Nick Picks Volume 2: All Growed Up

Reception and achievementsEdit

Critical receptionEdit

Since its debut in 1991, Rugrats generally received positive reviews from critics and fans. In a 1995 interview, Steven Spielberg (who, at the time, was producing several competing animated series for Warner Bros.) referred to the show as one of several shows that are the best children's programming at the time. Spielberg described Rugrats as "sort of a TV Peanuts of our time."[21] It was named the 92nd-best animated series by IGN.[22] Rugrats was also considered a strong point in Nickelodeon's rise in the 1990s.[23][24][25][26] In a press release celebrating the show's 10th anniversary, Cyma Zarghami stated, "During the past decade, 'Rugrats' has evolved from a ratings powerhouse, being the number one children's show on TV, to pop icon status. It has secured a place in the hearts of both kids and adults, who see it from their own point of view".[27] According to Nickelodeon producers, this show made them the number-one channel in the 1990s.[28] Jeff Jarvis reviewed Rugrats and stated, "When the Simpsons was a segment on The Tracey Ullman Show, it was just a belch joke with hip pretensions. As a series, it grew flesh and guts. It was my favorite cartoon...until I discovered Nickelodeon's Rugrats, a sardonic, sly, kid's eye view of the world that skewers thirty-something parents and (The) Cosby (Show) kids."[29]

Popularity, appeal, and controversyEdit

See also: Judaism in RugratsWhen Rugrats débuted in 1991, it was not as hugely popular as it would later become. When production went on a hiatus from 1994, Nick began showing Rugrats repeats everyday. More and more people began to take notice of the show, with ratings and popularity for Rugrats and Nick rising. From 1995 to 2000, it was the highest-rated show on Nickelodeon and the highest rated kids' show. The show experienced a wide diverse audience consisting of kids, teenagers and adults alike. Rugrats was successful in receiving an average of 26.7 million viewers every week: 14.7 million kids (2-11), 3.2 million teens (12-17), and 8.8 million adults (18 and over). In addition, Rugrats was seen internationally in over 76 countries.[27] It was the only one of the three original Nicktoons that continued in the 2000s (decade), and had its own spin-off. It is the most successful of the three original Nicktoons. While the other Nicktoons were popular during their run, Doug would later slip out of Nick's hands and into Disney's; and Ren and Stimpy would crash and burn in a creative rights dispute (only to return several years later in a much raunchier version on another network). During its run, Rugrats was enjoyed by a number of famous stars including Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Amanda Bynes, Aaron Carter, Ray Romano, Nivea and Bow Wow.[30]

With 172 episodes produced over the course of nearly 13 years, Rugrats was the longest-running Nicktoon until SpongeBob SquarePants surpassed both benchmarks when it aired its 173rd episode on February 27, 2012.

Rugrats was one of very few shows that pictured observant, identifiably Jewish families.[31] Jewish and Christian religion groups gave the show high praises for their special holiday episodes. Nonetheless, at one point the Anti-Defamation League and the Washington Post editorial page castigated the series for its depiction of the Pickles grandparents, who purportedly looked like Nazi-era depictions of Jews.[31]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Award Category Nominee Result
1992 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program Won
1993 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Children's Program Won
1994 CableAce Animated Programming Special or Series Won
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Children's Program Won
1995 Annie Award Best Individual Achievement for Writing in the Field of Animation 'A Rugrats Passover' Nominated
Humanitas Prize Children's Animation Category 'I Remember Melville' Nominated
CableAce Animated Programming Special or Series Nominated
1996 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won
1997 Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Voiceover Charity Sanoy for Dust Bunnies/Educating Angelica Nominated
CableAce Best Writing In A Children's Special Or Series Episode 'Mother's Day' Won
1998 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won[32]
Humanitas Prize Children's Animation Category Episode: Mothers Day Special Nominated
1999 Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
Genesis Award Television - Children's Programming 'The Turkey That Came to Dinner' Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won[33]
Humanitas Prize Children's Animation Category Episode 'Autumn Leaves' Won
TV Guide Award Favorite Children's Show Nominated
World Animation Celebration Best Director of Animation for a Daytime Series Episode 'Naked Tommy' Won
Kids Choice Awards Favorite Movie Won
Cable Guide Favorite Cartoon Nominated
2000 Artios Award Best Casting for Animated Voice Over - Television Nominated
Kid's Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won
Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
TV Guide Award Favorite Children's Show Won
2001 Artios Award Best Casting for Animated Voice Over - Television Nominated
Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Program Nominated
Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame Television Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Won
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming Nominated
Jewish Image Awards Outstanding Achievement Won
2002 Artios Award Best Casting for Animated Voice Over - Television 'Cynthia Comes Alive' Nominated
Emmy Award Outstanding Children's Program Special: All Growed Up Nominated
Kid's Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Nominated
BMI Cable Award Won
2003 Artios Award Best Casting for Animated Voice Over - Television 'Babies in Toyland' Nominated
Kid's Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon Nominated
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Children's Program Won
BMI Cable Award Won
2004 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Children's Program Nominated

HonorsEdit

[1][2]The Rugrats received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a ceremony on June 28, 2001, commemorating the show's 10th anniversary.On June 28, 2001, in commemoration of their tenth anniversary, Rugrats received a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame, making it Nickelodeon’s first (and to date, only) series to receive a star. It was placed at 6600 W. Hollywood Bl., near Cherokee Ave. outside a toy and costume shop.[34]

In the October 2001 issue of Wizard Magazine, a leading magazine for comic book fans, they released the results of the 100 Greatest Toons ever, as selected by their readers, Rugrats ranked at #35. Three other Nicktoons—SpongeBob SquarePants, Invader Zim, and Ren and Stimpy—also placed on the list.[35]

In a list of TV Land’s The 2000 Best Things About Television, ranking the all-time TV shows, channels, commercials, people, catch phrases, etc., Rugrats is ranked #699.[36]

Angelica Pickles placed 7th in TV Guide's list of “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” in 2002.[37]

Rugrats in 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.[38] It was the least successful Rugrats film both critically and commercially.

ComicsEdit

From 1998 to 2003, Nick produced a Rugrats comic strip, which was distributed through Creator's Syndicate. Initially written by show-writer Scott Gray and drawn by comic book artist Steve Crespo, with Rob Armstrong as editor. Will Blyberg came on board shortly after as inker. By the end of '98, Lee Nordling, who had joined as a contributing gag writer, took over as editor. Nordling hired extra writers, including Gordon Kent, Scott Roberts, Chuck Kim, J. Torres, Marc Bilgrey, and John Zakour, as well new artists including Gary Fields, Tim Harkins, Vince Giaranno, and Scott Roberts. Stu Chaifetz colored the Sunday strips. The Rugrats strip started out in many papers, but as often happens with spin-off strips, soon slowed down. It's still seen in some papers in re-runs. Two paperback collections were published by Andrews McMeel It's A Jungle-Gym Out There and A Baby's Work Is Never Done.

During this time, Nickelodeon also published 30 issues of an all Rugrats comic magazine. Most of these were edited by Frank Pittarese and Dave Roman, and featured stories and art by the comic strip creators and others. The last nine issues featured cover art by Scott Roberts, who wrote and drew many of the stories. Other writers included Roman, Chris Duffy, Patrick M. O'Connell & Joyce Mann, and Jim Spivey. Other artists included Joe Staton and Ernie Colón. The magazine also included short stories, many by Pittarese, and games, as well as reprints from an earlier, UK produced Rugrats comic.

Finally, Nick produced a special, 50 page comic magazine retelling of the film Rugrats In Paris, edited by Pittarese and Roman, with script by Scott Gray, pencils by Scott Roberts, and inks by Adam DeKraker.

Video gamesEdit

Live performancesEdit

Rugrats - A Live Adventure was a show about Angelica's constant attempts to scare Chuckie. To help Chuckie combat his wide range of fears, Tommy invents a magic wand called the "People-ator" to make Chuckie brave. Angelica, however, wants Chuckie to stay scared, so she steals Tommy's wand. The Rugrats try to get it back, but to no avail. Angelica becomes Princess of the World. Eventually, Chuckie becomes brave thanks to the help of Susie, Mr. Flashlight and the audience.[39] Many songs were included in the play, including the theme song. Despite some criticism, the show was well received.[40] The show had two 40-minute acts, with a 20-minute intermission (or a commercial break).

MerchandiseEdit

Merchandise that was based on Rugrats varied from video games, toothpaste, Kelloggs' cereal to slippers, puzzles, pajamas, jewelry, wrapping paper, Fruit Snacks, Inflatable balls, watches, pens, pencils, markers, cookie jars, key rings, action figures, and bubblegum. The show also managed to spawn a popular merchandise line at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, EBay, Hot Topic, JCPenney, Toys "R" Us, Mattel, Barnes & Noble and Basic Fun, just to name a few.[41]

The Rugrats had their own cereal made by Post called Reptar Crunch Cereal. The Rugrats and Reptar were predominantly featured on the front, there's a board game on the back, and a special $3 rebate for Runaway Reptar on the side. This cereal was released for a limited time only, sold at US supermarkets 8/1/99 to 9/15/99 only, and not all supermarkets carried the cereal. To memorialize the movie, Rugrats in Paris, another Rugrats-based cereal came out in October 2000. Simply called the Rugrats in Paris Cereal, it has a similar appearance to Trix; it's a sweetened, multi-grain cereal with small-round bits in plain, red, purple and green. Small Eiffel Towers could also be seen.[42] Rugrats made fast-food appearances as well with the most appearances being on Burger King. Their first fast food appearance was in 1994, when the Hardee's fast food chain offered a collection of Nicktoons toys as premiums that were included with kids' meals at Hardee's. All 4 Nicktoons at that time were featured—Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, Doug and Rugrats. Other food items that feature Rugrats were Fruit Snacks, Macaroni and Cheese, Bubble Gum and Campbell's Rugrats Pasta with Chicken and Broth.[43]

In their first tie-in with Burger King, 5 Rugrats toys were offered with their Kids Club meals, a different one with each meal. Each toy came with a 12-page (including covers) miniature version of Nickelodeon Magazine, which featured the toy's instructions, word search, picture puzzle, "Say What?”,a scrambled word puzzle, a coupon for Oral-B Rugrats toothpaste & toothbrush, and entry blanks to subscribe to Rugrats Comic Adventures, Nick Magazine and the Kids Club. From 1998 till 2003, "Rugrats" based-products included watches and various toys.[44]

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