Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Ripping Friends (2001)

From the twisted mind of John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy), the Ripping Friends exploded onto television screens in 2001, airing on Fox. Right now, here's the series opener, "The Indegestible Wad":



14 years earlier, Kricfalusi had worked with the legendary Ralph Bakshi on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, which featured a revival of Bakshi's 1960's superteam, the Mighty Heroes. The story goes that Kricfalusi had created the Ripping Friends before introducing Powdered Toast Man to the Ren & Stimpy Show, and that the Friends were originally meant to be starring in a feature film after Kricfalusi was axed by Nickelodeon. The Friends didn't last long at Fox, as the series was quietly cancelled without much fanfare. Cartoon Network picked up the series for their [adult swim] division, but it didn't last long there, either, and hasn't been seen since being dropped by CN.

The idea was that the Friends were an extreme satire of common superhero cartoons, but the plots were a little too over the heads of the target audience. Considering that Fox also had Japanese imports like Digimon: Digital Monsters on the schedule at the time, the sudden culture shift and shock from one program to the next would be too disturbing for young viewers. It's clear from the designs, though, that Kricfalusi may have been inspired, without saying so, by the Mighty Heroes, although it would be a bit of a stretch to suggest that these were all Strong Man clones. Jimmy, the Idiot Boy, the team's mascot, had previously appeared on Ren & Stimpy, and was also Spumco's mascot.

Rating: C-.

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