Thomas Pickles and Friends: 90s Sitcoms, Revisited

One of the benefits of working frequently between the hours of 4 PM and 2 AM is that you are available to watch some great afternoon TV.  Recently, I discovered that MTV2, in addition to actually existing, shows two hours of Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World back-to-back from noon til 4.  As you’d imagine, this was a revelation and ever since I’ve been reliving some of my favorite childhood shows.  What follows is the sixth of several look-backs at some of those incredible shows and what made them so (not-so) great.

I’ve met a decent number of people in my life, but I don’t know of any of them that haven’t liked Rugrats.  That show was my shit, I was glued to it for years. Debuting in 1991, taking hiatus in 1994, and finishing up it’s original run in 2004 (Yes. Remarkably the show went for that long), Rugrats was one of the best kids cartoons around.

Of course, in watching it over again for this post, I can’t stand one second of it, but I suppose that’s to be expected now that I’m no longer 6 years old.

There’s a number of ways we could break down this show (a few quick examples that come to mind include: how big of a bitch Angelica was, how nearly all of the characters were voiced by women, the All Grown Up! spinoff not being as terrible as it probably should’ve been), but I think there’s one thing that keeps the show on my mind (aside from re-runs at midnight).

This:

Oh, how I love this song and video, let me count the ways.

In no particular order:

  1. The unnecessary element of having Blackstreet in this song or video. Is there any reason we needed anyone to support Mya? This was when she was at the height of her powers.
  2. The opening scene, a la Tom Hanks in Big at FAO Schwartz.
  3. The continued insistence that these adults, despite their facial hair and grown-ass bodies, are in fact children in a jumbo sized world.
  4. The Jackson 5 sample on the remix.
  5. The fact there even was a remix.
  6. The only real appearance that anyone’s ever heard of Blinky Blink.
  7. The adorable-ness that was Ma$e and Blink’s entire verse, as brothers. Literally, the whole fucking thing.

[Ma$e]
Now Angelica is the one with all the exposure
Dil is the one they drop in the stroller
Tommy got the whole world on his shoulders
Cuz Dil cried to sleep cuz his eyes are beat
And couldn’t have been Chuckie, Chuckie too petro
Chuckie gets scared, Chuckie says let’s go
If I was a Rugrat, it wouldn’t a been so real
Me and my twin woulda been just like Phil and Lil

[Blinky Blink]
Now with one wish, Blink grant you one trip
Where we going this adventure, who you wanna come with
See, you’re my little brother that I’ll come get
Run with, but it gotta be done quick
Though Chuckie is scared and Tommy is sad
And Phil and Lil misses their mommy and dad
So pick a time and date and find a place
And I guarantee you that we all get home safe

I wonder, honestly, why isn’t that song played anywhere anymore? Imagine, you’re out at a bar of some kind where people in the 24 to 30 range hang out. In the midst of 90s rock, 90s rap and all the shit that comes out nowadays, the DJ drops that little gem on you. Are you going to sit here and tell me that your world has not just been rocked? I don’t think so.

As to the actual show… I think one thing that really struck me about it (though I’m sure I didn’t recognize it at the time) was that the Pickles were really the only Jewish family on TV. There couldn’t have been many others and there damn sure weren’t many others in cartoon form. Those episodes where Tommy and the gang re-enacted Passover and Hannukah… are you serious? That was some enlightened shit for a little kid to be watching on a cartoon. Anyone can do a Halloween or Christmas special, but to tackle the fucking festival of lights? Good on ya, Rugrats.

Final few quick thoughts:

  • Think about the theme song for a minute… It’s hard to exactly picture, isn’t it? For such a popular, enjoyable show, the theme song is shockingly un-memorable. Why? I’d venture because there’s no words to it.
  • Thank the lord the creators of the time took some space to plop a black family (the Carmichaels, Susie you’ll recall) in the show. Nothing screams forced diversity like an episode entitled “Meet the Carmichaels”  midway into the second season.
  • I get it, all the characters had parts to play. Tommy was brave, the leader. Chuckie was the pal, but a wuss. Angelica the bitch, Phil and Lil the go-alongers. But my question was, did Chuckie have to be such a pussy? He was pathetic. I realize Tommy was a nice kid and all, but I have to imagine that as soon as the director yelled “Cut!” he couldn’t get away from that grade-A herb fast enough.
  • And on the subject of Phil and Lil… what exactly was the point of them? Twins in a cartoon show? That just says lazy, to me.
  • How whipped was Stu Pickles?

One comment

  1. Ash

    ‘Tommy got the whole work on his shoulders’ I fucking love this song, too! And I’ll never forget the day we admitted to each other this guilty pleasure. Great post Scott.

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