1991 was an excellent year -- it was the year we went to war for 2 months to free Kuwait from an Iraqi despot named Sadaam Hussein. It was the year George Bush, without the "W", was president of the US, with Dan Quayle has his Vice President / Comedy Relief, while Brian Mulroney and Margaret Thatcher were Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain, respectively. It was the year NBC ruled prime-time with The Cosby Show and Cheers, while Johnny Carson ruled late-night for another year. It was a year The Simpsons were already very popular after its first season as a TV series, while America kept "those cameras safely rolling" for America's Funniest Home Videos. At the movies, movie-goers saw great films such as Terminator 2; Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves; Disney's Beauty And The Beast; The Silence Of The Lambs; Hook; The Naked Gun 2 1/2; JFK and Teenage Mutant Ninjas II; among other great films. And in 1991, Rugrats first hit the airwaves on Nickelodeon.
During 2001, Nickelodeon will be celebrating the Rugrats' 10 years of being Nick's successful program. This page will look back at the past, and look into the future of America's favorite TV babies.
But we start their history not in 1991, but actually 1989. That year, Nick
was looking for new, original ideas from animators for a new line of made-for-Nickelodeon
cartoons called Nicktoons. At the request from Nick, Klasky-Csupo submitted
several ideas, all of them passed on by Nick. Their last idea was a show about
life from a baby's point of view, based on Arlene Klasky & Gabor Csupo's
experiences of raising their son, Brandon. Nick liked it, and commissioned a
pilot. While that pilot was never televised, it was a start of something big,
for it was how Rugrats was born. The public's first look at Rugrats
was on a Sunday morning, August 11, 1991, when Nick debuted Rugrats and
2 other Nicktoons -- Doug, which would later slip out of Nick's hands
and into Disney's; and Ren & Stimpy, which was Nick's most-popular
program, until it crashed and burned in a creative rights dispute. Popularity
for the Rugrats wouldn't come until 1994, when the show went out of production
and daily repeats began. When its popularity increased, Nick thought it was
onto something, and not only brought the show back into production, it also
commissioned the babies' first movie, which ended up grossing about US$140
million worldwide in 1999. By 2000, Rugrats was a big success for both
Nick and Klasky-Csupo.
TV history as scheduled -- a page from the Western Illinois edition of TV Guide from August 11, 1991, featuring the first ever TV listings for the first 3 Nicktoons -- Doug, Rugrats and Ren & Stimpy. At that time of day, there wasn't much competition, other than sitcom reruns, public affairs programming, church services, medical programs and of course, "commercial programs" -- infomercials.
For a closer look at television on the week that Rugrats started,
including the full Nickelodeon schedule, click
Very few magazines and papers did any extensive write-ups on the new Nicktoons. The Tampa Tribune not only did an article on the Nicktoons, they also featured them on the cover of their Sunday TV magazine on 8/11/1991, probably one of few Nicktoons magazine covers at the time. For a larger copy, click here.
© 1991 The (Tampa) Tribune Company. From a microfilm copy.
Thanks to the availability of older newsgroup articles at Google, I have recently found some articles on the initial reaction of the first 3 Nicktoons, when they first aired on 8/11/1991. For these articles, click here.
Three months after the first 3 Nicktoons went on the air, Nick was so pleased with the results, they ordered more episodes of each series. For a press release announcing this news, click here.
See The Tweenage Rugrats
Off all the Rugrats episodes, All Growed Up , which featured our favorite Rugrats ten years older, is not only the most talked-about episode in Rugrats history, it was also the most watched program in Nickelodeon history -- and then some. For complete details, click here.
(Left: Tommy Pickles, ten years older, from PR Newswire. ©2001 Viacom.)
Your Top 10 Rugrats Stories
From 1/1/2001 to 3/31/2001, Nickelodeon took an online poll to see what what was their viewers' favorite Rugrats episodes. For complete results, click here.
(Left: from Nick.Com; ©2001 Viacom.)
The above lists are the episodes that the public likes (so says Nick, in the case of their list). But what really counts is the essential episodes -- shows that make up the framework for the entire Rugrats series. For my list on these "essential" episodes, click here.
For the show's 10thj Anniversary, creators Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo talked with Nickelodeon about the Rugrats, and how they became a success. For the interview, click here.
If you like collecting trading cards, then you'll love collecting these virtual trading cards. For details, click here.
And Don't Forget Nicktoons In General
Also turning 10 at the same time as Rugrats is the Nicktoons concept, as well as the other 2 first Nicktoons -- Doug and Ren & Stimpy. For details on all the Nicktoons, and why they should never be forgotten, click here.
Herb Scannell, the president of Nickelodeon, has a few words to say about the Rugrats' 10th anniversary. To read his letter, click here.
Rugrats, Just For Variety
The 7/20/2001 issue of Daily Variety, sold only in the Los Angeles and New York areas, had a special section on the Rugrats' 10th anniversary. For details on what was inside, along with a variety (no pun intended) of congratulatory ads, click here.
(Left: Cover of the 7/20/2001 Daily Variety; ©2001 Viacom.)
The Rugrats Are Real "Stars"
On 6/28/2001, the Rugrats received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For complete details of this distinction, click here.
(Left: The Rugrats' star; from Cooltoons; ©2001 Klasky Csupo.)
Hollywood's talking about the Rugrats -- to read what some of the stars had
to say about them, click here.
First of all, where animated programs in prime time go, Rugrats is probably the third longest-running program in US TV history with 141 episodes (as of July 2001), behind The Flintstones (with 166 episodes) and The Simpsons (with over 200 episodes and counting). Seasonwise, Rugrats is in second place with 10 seasons, behind The Simpsons, which will be entering its 13th season on Fox in the 2001-2002 TV season; The Flintstones had 6 seasons on ABC, 1960 to 1966.
As for other TV series, season-wise, Rugrats is one of the longest-running programs on television.
Rugrats lasted longer than these classic TV shows, all of which ended their run after 9 seasons:
Alice (CBS, 1976-85)
The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS, 1962-71)
Coach (ABC, 1988-97)
Dynasty (ABC, 1981-89)
The FBI (ABC, 1965-74)
The Facts Of Life (NBC, 1979-88)
Father Knows Best (CBS / NBC / ABC, 1954-63)
Little House On The Prairie (NBC, 1974-83)
The Love Boat (ABC, 1977-86)
Night Court (NBC, 1984-92)
One Day At A Time (CBS, 1975-84)
Perry Mason (CBS, 1957-66)
Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-98)
Three's Company / Three's A Crowd (ABC, 1977-85)
The Virginian (NBC, 1962-71)
The Waltons (CBS, 1972-81)
But, Rugrats has a little ways to go before lasting as long as these shows below; will Rugrats outlast them?
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (CBS / NBC, 1955-65)
The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-78)
Happy Days (ABC, 1974-84)
The Jeffersons (CBS, 1975-85)
M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972-83)
Married With Children (Fox, 1987-97)
The Danny Thomas Show / Make Room For Daddy (ABC / CBS, 1953-65)
Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 1968-80)
The Lucy Show / Here's Lucy (CBS, 1962-74)
Murder She Wrote (CBS, 1984-96)
My Three Sons (ABC / CBS, 1960-72)
All In The Family / Archie Bunker's Place (CBS, 1971-83)
The Simpsons (Fox, 1989 to date)
America's Most Wanted (Fox, 1988 to date)
Bonanza (NBC, 1959-73)
Cops (Fox, 1988 to date)
Dallas (CBS, 1977-91)
Knot's Landing (CBS, 1979-93)
Ozzie & Harriet (ABC, 1952-66)
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