Wacky, anthropomorphic red-feathered woodpecker, or wacky, anthropomorphic retarded psycho chihuahua and fat, stupid cat–when it comes down to a head-to-head match-up, which wins: Woody Woodpecker or Ren and Stimpy? Cartoon animals have been a hilarious staple of cartoon viewing for over half a century, and everyone has his/her favorites that you can’t help but LOL over whenever you see their cartoons. The Woody Woodpecker Show and The Ren & Stimpy Show are two of my personal favorites, from the Old School and the New School Eras. When placed under a clinical microscope, and minutely analyzed, compared and contrasted, which of these two worthy opponents will pass muster and be declared the over-all winner?
The Woody Woodpecker Show premiered on October 3, and ran until September 25, 1958 on ABC. Then, it ran from 1958-1966 (Syndication), and from September 12, 1970-September 2, 1972 (NBC), September 11, 1976-September 3, 1977 (NBC), 1987-1995 (Syndication), and from 1996-1997 (Cartoon Network). The character was created in 1940 by storyboard artist Ben “Bugs” Hardaway. The show was produced by the Walter Lantz animation studio and distributed by Universal Pictures.
The New Woody Woodpecker Show is an animated television series based on the original cartoon by Walter Lantz, produced by Universal Animation Studios and aired from 1999 until 2002 on FOX (United States) and YTV (Canada). It is an updated version of The Woody Woodpecker Show with characters from the classic series and a few new ones appearing in their own segments. It lasted 3 seasons, and 53 episodes were made of it.
The Ren & Stimpy Show was created by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi and premiered on Nickolodeon on Sunday, August 11, 1991. The show was canceled on November 14, 1996. It lasted for 5 seasons, and 52 episodes were made. The executive producer was Vanessa Coffey, and it was produced by two different companies, Spümcø (1991-1992) and Games Animation (1993-1996).
Category 1 – Major Characters
The Woody Woodpecker Show
Woody Woodpecker [Voiced by Mel Blanc (1940–1941), Ben Hardaway (1941-1949), Danny Webb (1941–1942), Kent Rogers (1942–1944),
Grace Stafford (1950–1972), Cherry Davis (in Who Framed Roger Rabbit), Billy West (1999–present), Grace Stafford (Mrs. Walter Lantz)]
The Ren & Stimpy Show
Ren Hoek (Voiced by John Kricfalusi (1991-1993) and then by Billy West)
Stimpson “Stimpy” J. Cat (Voiced by Billy West)
Does The Woody Woodpecker Show have the best main characters, or are the best main characters actually to be found in its archrival, The Ren & Stimpy Show? Though I really like Woody Woodpecker, Billy West as the voices of both Ren and Stimpy is phenomenal. His favorite characters, according to Wikipedia’s page on this show, are Philip J. Fry (Futurama) and Stimpy (Ren and Stimpy), both of which he originated. West’s most notable film work was in Space Jam (1996) providing the voice of both Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd; he has provided the same voices for other Looney Tunes films and video games. He’s often compared to Mel Blanc, because he has done so many different voices. Also, Woody Woodpecker is the only major character in his series, really, and though he is pretty cool, with The Ren & Stimpy Show it’s like you get two excellent main characters for the price of one. That’s why I say the winner of this category is The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Category 2 – Secondary Characters
The Woody Woodpecker Show
Buzz Buzzard [Voiced by Lionel Stander (1948-1949), Dallas McKennon (1950-1972), Daws Butler (in “Spook-A-Nanny”), Mark Hamill (1999-2002)]
Gabby Gator (Voiced by Daws Butler in an Ozarks voice, a slightly different southern dialect than he used for Huckleberry Hound)
Space Mouse (Voiced by Johnny Coons. The info is somewhat scant on this character, but he had cartoons made by Walter Lantz Productions, and was in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon, “Spook-A-Nanny”.)
Homer Pigeon (Voiced by Daws Butler)
Charlie Beary (Voiced by Paul Frees)
Charles Beary Jr. (Voiced by Paul Frees)
Sugarfoot (Voiced by Daws Butler)
Cuddles (Voiced By someone–if any readers know, please tell me in the Comments area below)
Smedley (Voiced by Daws Butler)
Knothead (Voiced by Daws Butler
Splinter (Voiced by Grace Stafford)
The Ren & Stimpy Show
There are tons of very funny secondary characters in The Ren & Stimpy Show. A fairly complete list can be found here, but I’ll briefly mention some of the better-known ones.
Mr. Horse (Voiced by John Kricufalusi and later by Billy West)
Powdered Toast Man (Voiced by voice actor and disc jockey Gary Owens.)
Muddy Muddskipper (Voiced by Harris Peet)
The Pope (Voiced by Frank Zappa)
George Liquor, American (Voiced by Michael Patalet and Harris Peet)
Mr. and Mrs. Pipe (Respectively voiced by Billy West and Cheryl Chase)
Sven Hoek (Ren’s Swedish cousin was voiced by Billy West)
Wilbur Cobb (Voiced by Jack Carter)
This is a close call, IMHO. That’s because this category involves some of the best voice acting talents from the Old School and the New School eras, and the voice actors in both of these series have contributed their talents to many other very famous cartoon characters, or were famous in fields besides cartoons, like Frank Zappa being a well-known musician and singer. Just because I really like the varied characters that Billy West has portrayed, and because Frank Zappa and Gary Owens have contributed their voices to the series, I’ll give the win to The Ren & Stimpy Show. What do you feel? Was The Woody Woodpecker Show robbed, or am I correct in my assessment? Let me know in the Comment form below, please!
Category 3 – Over-All Concept
The Woody Woodpecker Show has a simple concept, and that is to show in cartoons the humorous antics and adventures of the wild and crazy woodpecker, Woody, and his pals, family, friends, and foes.
The Ren & Stimpy Show‘s premise is also pretty basic. The series concerns the adventures of the title characters: Ren Höek, a psychotic chihuahua, and Stimpson J. Cat, a good-natured, dimwitted cat. The show is animated in various styles reminiscent of the Golden Age of American animation. The Ren & Stimpy Show premiered on Nickelodeon on Sunday, August 11, 1991, and was the third of the three original Nicktoons. The show’s premise revolves around off-color humor and violent slapstick, taking place in a wide variety of settings.
So, which show does the best job of sticking to its over-all concept? I’d have to say that both shows do an excellent job sticking to their over-all concepts. Both shows are very different in many ways, but they each have anthropomorphized animals as their main characters who do zany, antic things. Both have been fairly big successes on television. Some of my favorite cartoons, Old and New School, have animals as the main characters, and these two are no different in that respect.
The sands of time have a way of messing with one’s memory, and I have not seen a Woody Woodpecker cartoon for many years, but I fondly remember the characters as being some of the wildest, and craziest, I’d ever seen up to that time when I was a boy. So, I downloaded a couple of cartoons starring Woody and watched them. “Hypnotic Hick,” was my favorite of these. A summons server, I. Gypem, has had trouble trying to serve a summons on Buzz Buzzard, so he uses a magnet to attract Woody to his office, and he asks Woody to serve it to Buzz for him. Woody plays all sorts of pranks on Buzz, including putting the summons in a sandwich Buzz is about to eat in his job as a construction worker on a high beam of a building. Woody “helps” Buzz make the sandwich, placing the summons in it as if it were lettuce, and Buzz’s hand in it, as the meat, and of course, Buzz ends up biting his own hand. This is a pretty funny episode, typical of the entire series.
My favorite episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show has to be one of their most memorable ones, “Space Madness,” in which Ren goes insane after he and Stimpy spend too much time in space. Commander Höek (Ren) and Cadet Stimpy are on a mission to explore the cosmos. Commander Hoek begins to display symptoms of “space madness.” Stimpy attempts to calm his sickened Officer while still maintaining his loyalty to his command, but it doesn’t last long. Ren’s eating a bar of soap, thinking it’s delicious food, and foaming at the mouth, is one of the strangest but most funny scenes in the episode.
This is a category that has made or broken cartoons in the head-to-head matches I’ve done so far between Old and New School cartoons. The Woody Woodpecker Show brings with it lots of intangible qualities that help make it a great classic cartoon, but The Ren & Stimpy Show also has some very cool qualities about it that fall into this category, and so the decision about who wins this category was a difficult one for me to make.
The Woody Woodpecker Show has been around for decades, in some form or another, like in VCR tapes and DVDs, and in syndication; Woody also made a reappearance in the cartoon series The New Woody Woodpecker Show, so one thing the woodpecker has going for it is that it’s stood the test of time, which The Ren & Stimpy Show hasn’t done yet. Sure, this is through no fault of The Ren & Stimpy Show, as it hasn’t been around as long; but, still, Woody is a much beloved character and has been for a longer time. Also, Woody’s laugh is arguably the best-known laugh of any cartoon character, even Popeye’s, and the show has a fairly memorable them song. There’s been quite a bit of merchandising done over the years in relation to the series, on top of this–The Ren & Stimpy Show has plenty of merchandise associated with it, but not nearly as much as Woody. And Woody also was a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and this is one quality that I have taken into consideration before that has weighed heavily in my decisions as to who is the over-all winner.
Now, what are some of the intangible qualities that The Ren & Stimpy Show has going for it? I really like their spoofs of products and commercials, like their fake commercials for products like the Log, from Blammo. Also, Stimpy’s favorite song, “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy,” that often drives Ren crazy (it’s not hard to do that, but still….) is catchy, if extremely annoying. The duo’s parodies of Robin Hood and stories like Pinocchio are way cool, as well. Though I mentioned one of my favorite episodes earlier, the one where Ren tries to create a living boy out of scrambled eggs, which he then calls Eggyolkio, is brilliant and delightfully twisted. I’d say that the animation is also better for this series–though, it should be, what with advances made in the field–and the bizarre sense of humor in the series appeals much more to me as an adult than The Woody Woodpecker Show does, despite my still liking it and loving it when I was a boy.
Bottom line? I grudgingly declare the winner to be The Woody Woodpecker Show, but if I was to say what my favorite of the two is as an adult, then I’d say that the winner is The Ren & Stimpy Show. Does my decision on who the winner is correspond with yours? Who would you declare the winner to be? Whether you agree with me, or disagree, or just would like to add your own thoughts/opinions to the discussion, I’d be glad to hear from you! Please add your comments using the form below!