THE RIPPING FRIENDS
(FOX, September 22,
2001-January 26, 2002)
& Mark Dailey
Indigestible Wad variousMerwin
– SlabMichael Kerr
– Chuck NuggettMike
– RipJohn Kricfalusi
– Jimmy the Idiot Boy, Citracett/Stinky Butt the Foul
Ripping Friends was about four massively muscular and manly men who were
dedicated to protecting their city from scum and villainy with as much destruction
as possible. While they wore costumes reminiscent of traditional superheroes,
they didn’t actually have any superpowers as they viewed that as
cheating. No, they did battle through sheer strength and manly forces of will, as
they felt victory could only be achieved through pain. Some of that pain was
self-inflicted as they spent an hour a day on torture machinery and diving on
live grenades. The more it hurt, the more they loved it. The Really
Impressive Prototype City of (Next) Tuesday, or RIPCOT (a spoof on Disney’s EPCOT), served
as their base (it was said they came from the really futuristic time of, well,
|Crac, Slab and Rip face off against the Indigestible Wad.|The
brothers consisted of their leader, Crag (Harvey Atkin at first, then Mark Dailey),
his right-hand man, Slab (Merwin Mondesir), hotheaded Rip (modeled after Kirk Douglas in Detective Story, voiced
by Mike MacDonald), and the childlike Chunk Nuggett (Michael Kerr, who was also
a storyboard artist). They lived with their foster mother, the masculine
He-Mom, and were assisted by Spümcø’s
mascot Jimmy the Idiot Boy (John Kricfalusi), a mentally-challenged drooling
kid created by combining the brothers’ DNA (Jimmy was actually the subject of
his own show pitch, but Kricfalusi didn’t want to lose the rights to the
character). Chunk was often the butt of his brothers’ jokes because he was the
youngest at 35 ½, compared to the others being 36. The brothers’ only weakness
was a lack of meat consumption, which would cause their muscles to shrink and
leave them as frail wimps. Among the foes they faced were Citrocett (Kricfalusi),
a Euroslavian dictator who once gained flatulence-based powers; Flathead (Marvin Goldhar), a worm whose acquisition
of a spine allowed him to wreak havoc; the Indigestible Wad (Atkin), a sentient
wad of gum that sucked moisture out of people and zombified them; and even
their own underpants. The characters were designed by Kricfalusi and Jim Smith.
|Chunk gets no respect.| Before
selling Ren &
Stimpy, Kricfalusi was pitching a number of ideas to various studios
and networks. While they claimed to like the ideas, they ultimately turned
them down because they couldn’t see a way to get a toy company to finance
the show’s production as they were only interested in action characters. Kricfalusi
decided to give them what they wanted and came up with The Ripping Friends—which
still didn’t sell. Even with the success of Ren & Stimpy, Kricfalusi
didn’t abandon the idea and tried to get the concept turned into a film project
with James Cameron attached,
but that ultimately fell through. Finally, it was his partner Kevin Kolde who managed to put
a deal together to get The Ripping Friends onto Fox Kids.
|Citracett holds Jimmy hostage.| Kricfalusi
wasn’t heavily involved with the production of the show early on, as he was
busy working on the Flash-animated Weekend Pussy Hunt (which
also featured Jimmy). However, halfway through production on the season
Kricfalusi saw that supervisors were eliminating the Spümcø style (such as
cleaning up intentionally “off-model” poses, with John Shaw of Funbag Animation
famously leaving Kricfalusi’s style
guide unopened for weeks), and got more actively involved. Not only did he
serve as one of the writers along with Richard Pursel, Robyn Byrd and Ben Jones, but also as the
design supervisory, storyboard supervisor, storyboard artist, key animator,
director and voice director. On that last role, Kricfalusi stated in an
interview that he worked his actors so hard he was afraid Atkin was going to
have a heart attack, resulting in his being replaced with Dailey for half of
the episodes. Kricfalusi was also at constant odds with the network, which
forced him to tone down the more adult aspects of the show and some of the
violence after he felt he already “watered down” the concept enough just so it
would sell (he had hopes of a more prime-time timeslot for future seasons).
|Taking the pain.| The
Ripping Friends was originally supposed to debut in September of 2000 and then in May of 2001,
but ended up coming to FOX on September 22,
2001. The series’ theme and music were composed by Steve London, with additional music
by Ernest Lee and Zoran Borisavljevic. Along with
Funbag, animation duties were handled by Animagic
Studio, PIP Animation Services
Inc., Q-West Studios and Red Rover Studios (now part of House of Cool). Kricfalusi made special
point to give a shoutout to Sound of
One Hand, a small audio studio that allowed him to go full experimental
with the sound design of the episodes. Along with the main story, each episode
featured a short segment called “Rip Along with the Ripping Friends”, where
viewers were asked to send in letters about problems they were having (such as
why toys no longer came in cereal boxes) and the Ripping Friends “ripping” the
offenders to shreds. Viewers were encouraged to participate by ripping pieces
of paper in front of the TV screen when told to. These satirical
segments were intended to be an homage to classic cartoons and make use of
previously produced footage so greater focus could be placed on the actual
episode; however, the intent was lost on the animation studios who re-animated
the footage anyway.
|Too hot for TV? A hot dog and a bun get a little too...intimate for the censors.| Because of
when the show debuted, the episodes “The Infernal Wedding” and “Jimmy’s
Kidnapped” never aired during its original run because the material was deemed
offensive following the September 11 attacks. Additionally, a portion of one of
the “Rip Along” segments was removed for its implied sexual nature. The segment
dealt with the disparity between the number of hot dogs per package versus
the number of buns, and featured a male hot dog slipping inside of a female
bun (a possible inspiration for one of the gags in Sausage Party?).
|Ad for The Ripping Friends' debut on Cartoon Network.|With a $400,000 per episode price
tag and a toy deal
with Playmates never materializing
beyond a prototype stage, the series was cancelled with only 13 episodes produced.
In September of 2002, Cartoon Network’s
Adult Swim picked up the series and aired
it completely uncut. The series also aired occasionally on Teletoon in Canada, where it was produced,
and briefly on the CNX
channel in the United Kingdom and ABC
in Australia. Creations Group Limited developed a video game for the Game Boy Advance with
consultation from Kricfalusi that was published by THQ. Two VHS
tapes containing two episodes each were released, and later combined into a
single DVD. Madman
Entertainment released the complete series to DVD in Australia.
“The Indigestible Wad” (9/15/01) – A wad of chewing gum
gains sentience and wanders the town sucking the moisture out of people,
turning them into zombies.
“The Infernal Wedding” (10/13/02) – Citracett decides to
seduce He-Mom in order to get close enough to get rid of the Ripping Brothers.
“Flathead’s Revenge” (9/29/01) – A flatworm takes one of the
brothers’ backbones and wreaks havoc on the town.
“Frictor” (10/6/01) – Crag tries to help get some friction
in Jimmy’s smooth fingers, but when the brothers’ callouses are exposed to
radiation they create Frictor, the master of friction.
“Rip’s Shorts” (10/13/01) – After being thrown into space,
Rip’s shorts become evil and gain the ability to take control of anyone.
“The Ovulator” (10/27/01) – The only one not suffering from
the beef shortage, Slag is sent out to solve the mystery of the missing beef
and finds a chicken holding cows hostage.
“ManMan and BoyBoy” (11/10/01) – Crag decides to save BoyBoy
from his “crimefighting” partner when it’s discovered their exploits are merely
putting BoyBoy in danger.
“Stinky Butt” (11/17/01) – After being banished by the
brothers to the nether regions of Earth, mystical energy gives Citracett the
ability to control his flatulence.
“The Muscle Magician” (11/24/01) – Being made fun of for
being younger, Chunk runs away to join a circus that ends up having a magician
that can control muscles.
“Jimmy’s Kidnapped” (12/15/02) – When Rip causes Jimmy to
run away, Citracett and his gorilla friend capture him.
“Dr. Jean Poole” (1/12/02) – He-Mom gives the brothers a
lesson on girls and sets them all up on a date with Dr. Jean Poole.
“The Man from Next Thursday, Part One” (1/19/02) – A time
traveler breaks into RIPCOT’s vault to steal the brothers’ “perfect” DNA to
make a weapon to use against them.
“The Man from Next Thursday, Part Two” (1/26/02) – The time
traveler’s plot revealed: he seeks revenge for the brothers ripping the nail
off his giant thumb and putting it back on the wrong side.
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