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The Ren & Stimpy Show: The Complete First & Second Seasons: Uncut

A runaway hit on its debut in 1991, The Ren & Stimpy Show's first two seasons — created under the guidance of creator John Kricfalusi, who had the show yanked out from under him by Nickelodeon in Season Three — comes to DVD, uncut (supposedly) and digitally remastered. Choosing a handful of "best" episodes is difficult — highlights include the sci-fi parodies "Marooned" and "Space Madness"; the "Wild Kingdom" homage "Untamed World," with host Marlon Hoëk sharing some truly disturbing Galapagos Island nature footage; "Stimpy's Invention," an episode almost axed by Nickelodeon in which we first hear the dastardly catchy "Happy Happy Joy Joy" song (fun fact: the psychotic rant by the Burl Ives-esque singer Stinky Wizzleteats is actually dialogue spoken by Ives in the film The Big Country); "Rubber Nipple Salesmen," wherein Ren and Stimpy encounter the latex-fetishist Mr. Horse (brandishing a captive walrus who whispers, "Call… the police… "); and "Powdered Toast Man," which features Gary Owens as the hero and Frank Zappa as the Pope (Kricfalusi offered Zappa the part after discovering that the musician was a fan of the series.) Thankfully included as well is "Man's Best Friend," that famous "banned" episode that was deemed by the Nick execs to be too weird, creepy, and violent to ever show again after the first airing. It's worth noting that these are advertised as the "uncut" versions of the cartoons, but exactly how uncut is questionable. Eagle-eyed, obsessive fans of the show who saw early copies of the discs angrily complained that there are still a number of scenes, bits of dialogue, etc., missing from the original broadcast versions of several episodes. Paramount Home Video's DVD release of The Ren & Stimpy Show: The Complete First & Second Seasons: Uncut offers the first two seasons — 33 episodes in all — on three discs. All are digitally remastered, although they still show weaknesses in the source prints, but overall the colors are screamingly bright and the full-screen transfers (1.33:1) are very, very good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English only, no subtitles) is excellent. Extras include the featuratte "Ren & Stimpy: In the Beginning" (11 min.), audio commentary on four episodes; pencil tests, storyboards and stills. Three slimline cases in a cardboard slipcover.
—Dawn Taylor

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