Almost fifteen years have passed since Rugrats finally ended its run on Nickelodeon. The timeless, beloved series has remained a favorite among its viewers since that time. The thing is that until 2009, audiences had been left waiting and wondering if this series would ever receive an official release on DVD. The constant questions and requests were finally answered in 2017 when Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ debut season in a two-disc set in stores. Seasons 2-4 followed later in 2017 and 2018 respectively. That is where the official releases ended. More than three years later, audiences’ pleas were finally heard again though, as Paramount and Nickelodeon released the series’ full nine season run on a 26-disc DVD set May 18, complete with the series’ hour-long specials. Those extras are their own positive to discuss and will be addressed later. The fact that audiences finally get the full series in an official release is itself a positive. Now, staying on the topic of the number of discs, the packaging of those discs proves somewhat problematic. This will be discussed a little later. When this negative is considered along with the positives of the set’s very presentation and its bonus content, the whole still keeps the collection as one of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.
Paramount and Nickelodeon’s brand new release of Rugrats: The Complete Series is a presentation that longtime Rugrats fans will find mostly positive. The appeal begins with the presentation of the series in full, just as advertised. This is important to note because some of the on-demand standalone season sets that Nickelodeon released in partnership with Amazon allegedly were not full seasons. Rather they were allegedly portions of seasons assembled on-demand on DVD in many cases. In the case of this set though, audiences get the whole of all nine seasons of the show in precise chronological order within the precise confines of their seasons. What’s more, the most commonly occurring price listing for the set is $49.95 through Amazon and Walmart while Best Buy barely tops that number at $49.99. Barnes & Noble Booksellers far exceeds each of those prices, listing the set at $79.99. So even with tax and (thankfully) no added shipping & handling, audiences pay just over $50 for the set at its more economic prices. Considering audiences are getting the series’ full run here, and in quite good quality, that price is well worth it.
While the series’ full run and relatively affordable price are clearly positives that audiences will appreciate, the set is not perfect. That is evidenced through the set’s packaging. The clamshell case that is used to house the set saves space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks. At the same time though, that he discs are stacked as much as three high from one season to the next is anything but positive. What’s more, that the stacks overlap one another throughout the case makes the packaging even less appealing. That is because this packaging method greatly increases the odds that the discs will damage one another at some point by scratching one another. Again, yes, it is ergonomic in its design. At the same time though, true, longtime audiences will agree that a long box format with each standalone season would have made more sense and been more acceptable despite the less ergonomic packaging. That is because it would have better protected the discs. Maybe somewhere down the line, Paramount and Nickelodeon will take this into account and re-issue the set in such packaging. In the meantime though, audiences are left to be so gentle with the discs in hopes that they do not inadvertently damage them as they have to constantly move them. Keeping this in mind, anyone who owns the series’ first four seasons in their standalone sets (like this critic) are recommended to keep those sets just so they can avoid having to constantly move the discs around in this bigger set, and instead just worry about Seasons Five through Nine.
This is just one of the problems posed by the packaging. Along with the concerns raised about the discs’ packaging, there is no note as to which discs contain the aforementioned bonus specials. As a result, audiences will be left having to go through each season to find them. This goes right back to the discussion on the discs being stacked and risking damage as a result. So this is in itself another insult to longtime Rugrats fans. To save audiences that trouble, here is a guide to follow: “Runaway Reptar” is located on the third disc of Season 6. The All Grown Up pilot, “All Growed Up” is located on the third disc of Season Eight. The ‘Tales from the Crib” specials are located on the fourth disc of Season Nine along with the holiday special, “Babies in Toyland.” Now, keeping the bonus content in mind, it rounds out the most important of the set’s elements.
As noted, all of the Rugrats specials are featured here. The “Tales from the Crib” specials are available on a standalone DVD at a relatively low price while “Runaway Reptar” is available as part of another standalone Rugrats DVD. “Babies in Toyland” is also featured in the Rugrats holiday DVD box set. Until now, those DVDs were the only way to own those stories. So in essence, audiences get for the first time here, the entirety of the Rugrats series from beginning to end. While the musical numbers in the “Tales from the Crib” specials are forgettable, the stories themselves are entertaining. Audiences will love the breaking down of the fourth wall in “Snow White” as Queen Angelica tries to figure out how to get rid of Snow White (played in this case by Susie Carmichael). The reminder from the announcer that what was done in the original story cannot be done in this story because it is family friendly will have plenty of audiences laughing. The jokes about three jacks in the Rugrats take on Jack and the Beanstalk makes for its own laughs, too. In the case of “Runaway Reptar,” Tommy and company’s use of their imaginations as they try to figure out why Reptar has gone bad in a movie is itself moving. Classic sci-fi fans will love the spoof of the original Godzilla vs. Kong and Godzilla vs. Mecha Godzilla here, too. The babies’ wonderings about what the future will be like for them in the All Grown Up pilot is entertaining in its own right, considering that the series had shown them as babies for so many years up to the point at which it originally aired. All things considered here, the bonus specials add their own enjoyment to the presentation of the series here. They and the full run of episodes make for plenty of reason to own this set. That is even considering the highly problematic issue of the set’s packaging. Even with that in mind, the set still proves itself among the best of this year’s new family DVD and BD box sets.
Paramount and Nickelodeon’s recently released official full series presentation of Rugrats is an entertaining but imperfect presentation. That audiences finally get the full series in one, official set will appeal to any of the series’ longtime fans. That is because up until its release May 18, audiences only had the series’ first four seasons available in official box sets. It shows that someone(s) at Paramount and Nickelodeon finally listened to audiences’ pleas. While the presentation of the series in full is positive, the packaging thereof detracts considerably from its appeal. The packaging presents all nine seasons in a clamshell package with each season’s discs stacked as many as three high. This greatly increases the chances of damage to the discs, especially considering each stack overlaps another in each season. This means the discs have to be moved far more than necessary. That increased movement of the discs increases, again, the odds of the discs getting invariably scratched. A long box presentation with each standalone season therein would have been far more proper here. Time will tell if the people at Paramount and Nickelodeon heed that advice and eventually re-issue the collection in that more proper setting.
The lack of a guide for the bonus content makes the set’s packaging even more problematic. That is because it will lead audiences to have to otherwise search through the discs, moving them just as much, just to find the extras. That they are so spread out across the set’s seasons makes things even more problematic.
On the opposite hand, the fact that the bonus content is collected here together for the first time ever adds to the appeal again. That is because the specials have only been available separate of one another up until now. So to have them culled here along with the series’ run puts the finishing touch to this presentation. The collective content’s presentation makes the set at least one of the year’s top new family DVD and BD box sets, but not its best. It is available now. More information on all things Rugrats is available online at https://www.facebook.com/Rugrats.
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