The first complete season of the ‘00s favorite baby adventurers
Likes: Klasky-Csupo, Rugrats
Dislikes: Not getting extras
Hates: TV series best-of collections
However, that's changed now that Paramount has released budget-priced season sets, starting with the first 13 episodes. Finally, kids who grew up in the ‘90s (and the older viewers who tuned in as well) can reconnect with the rawest versions of Tommy Pickles, his family and his crew of fellow toddlers--ever-quarrelling twins Phil and Lil, neurotic, bespectacled Chuckie and Tommy's scheming older cousin Angelica--as the series finds its footing and establishes the characters, not to mention cleaning up the animation, which gets a polish throughout the first season. After a full storyline in the first episode, the show gets down to business of splitting each episode into two short stories, ensuring that whatever plot Rugrats decides to tackle, it won't outstay its welcome.
The first season doesn't have the recipe down yet that resulted in the show's better later episodes, but the elements start to be put in place, including the show's Godzilla stand-in Reptar, a unique integration of the Jewish faith via Didi's somewhat stereotypical patents and a willingness to experiment in displaying the kids' imaginations, as seen in episodes like the beautifully-animated "Slumber Party". Part of the appeal is certainly the trademark look of Klasky-Csupo animation, with its handcrafted aesthetic, but the talent of the cast, led by E.G. Daily as Tommy, helped make the show a longtime favorite, with plenty of recognizable voices, like Fridays star Melanie Chartoff as Didi, animation vet Michael Bell as Stu's brother Drew and the always enjoyable Christine Cavanaugh as Chuckie, not to mention cameos by Jeremy Piven and Chick Hearn.
The first thirteen episodes of Rugrats arrive on two DVDs, which are packed in a standard keepcase with a tray for the second disc and an embossed slipcover. The discs have static anamorphic-widescreen menus with options to play all the episodes or select shows. There are no audio options and no subtitles.
The audio arrives via center-balanced Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, which aren't exactly going to shake your home theater, but they fit the show as it originally aired on Nickelodeon over 25 years ago. Voices are nice and clear and enjoy good separation from Mark Mothersbaugh's tone-setting tunes, making for a pleasant listening experience, with no concerns about distortion.
At such a low price, it's nice to just have a complete season of Rugrats available, even if the show didn't hit its stride until later in the run. This set is presented in decent shape (problems seem to be inherent in the footage) and offers no extras, but the show remains as entertaining as it ever was, especially if you're bringing some nostalgia to the party.