Thanks to a winning combination of knowing, multi-levelled writing and perfectly cast vocal performances from an experienced and talented cast, this latter day entry into the ever-expanding field of high quality children's TV animation gave us the world as seen from the all-accepting innocence of a child's-eye point of view.
Nappy wearing toddler Tommy Pickles is the central
character of this adventurous infant ensemble. Along with fuzzy-haired, perpetually scared friend
Chuckie, and twins Phil and Lil, Tommy shares a playpen and endless adventures crawling around the
house and neighbourhood, while indulging in a non-stop series of adventures which deftly parodies
everyday life with the wide-eyed innocence of childhood, which belies the decidedly wry, adult
sensibilities which informs the show's scripting.
To the Rugrats, the world is a place full of mysteries; such ordinary sights as a garbage truck chewing up refuse in the early morning effortlessly transforms in to a terrifying monster on the street outside, as their rich and active imaginations reworks the world around them into a frame of reference which they can readily grasp, if only imperfectly understand. Of course, there's a truly wonderful master-villain in the form of Angelica, Tommy's malevolent three-year- old cousin who constantly delights in terrorising the mini quartet with all the gleefully open cruelty that is such a naturally accepted part of childhood. Angelica is a masterful creation; a pint-sized Wicked Witch of the West with a post-modern hard-nosed LA attitude still being shaped by exposure to all pervading outside social influences, of which she isn't even aware, much less can she comprehend.
Smart, consistently funny, with a warm heart and a genuine sense of affection for the many small sorrows and joys which comprise childhood, Rugrats is that all too rare event; a children's animated series that appeals to adults by cocking a sophisticated snook at grown up conventions, while reminding us of all what we lost when we made the transition from little to large.
Published on January 26th, 2019. Written by SRH for Television Heaven.