Real or Robots?
Synopsis: Tommy thinks Stu is a robot.
I have to preface by saying that this episode still makes me lose my shit. By that, I mean it’s fucking hilarious. I always loved how the early Nicktoons didn’t patronize kids by using infantile humor and I think this episode is an example of that. The first few seasons of Rugrats were great. Too bad they had to ruin it later by making it so damn innocuous and generic (not to mention the addition of Dil and Kimi).
Tommy and Chuckie are watching a movie in which a scientist plots to replace every man, woman and child with robots. A little kid enters his laboratory and yells, “Oh, no! Dad, you’re a robot!” Since this is a movie-within-an-animated-cartoon-series, I won’t nitpick. Stu, dressed in his pajamas and appearing drowsy as hell, shuts off the television and claims the movie to be too scary for the babies. Well, jeez, Stu, why let them watch it in the first place? I’m pretty sure one of the harmless Not Quite Human movies would’ve sufficed! He takes the kids to the nursery and says good night. He tells Chuckie that his mom and dad will pick him up in the morning. Wait… the same mom who passed away? Maybe she dies somewhere between season one and season two, but even then, there was a Mother’s Day episode in which Chuckie doesn’t remember his mom… that episode, of course, occurs in a later season. This series has a weird time warp kind of like that of the The Baby-sitters Club, in which the characters are permanently the same age for over a decade. It isn’t until the spinoff, All Grown Up, that everyone finally ages accordingly.
Stu shuts off the light and leaves, and Tommy can’t sleep. When Chuckie asks him what’s wrong, Tommy discusses his suspicions. After watching that robot movie, Tommy has been thinking about who among the adults in their life could be robots. He suspects the mailman, the ice cream vendor and even Stu, who in his drowsiness did seem a bit robotic, has been abducted and replaced by a robot. Chuckie is freaked out but still skeptical. Nevertheless, he follows Tommy and the two babies leave the crib and make their way to Stu and Didi’s bedroom.
In the bedroom, Stu is completely out of it and Didi, worried, advises him to work a little less hard and get some sleep, lest he starts sleepwalking like he did the summer before. She reveals that the last time he sleepwalked, he rearranged his sock drawer and tried to make a thirteen-egg omelet on the kitchen floor. Oh, my God, that is hilarious. I only sleepwalked once and it wasn’t as funny as Stu’s domestic/culinary sleepwalking escapade. I just woke up in my kitchen in my pajamas and my sneakers tightly tied. That was when I was fourteen years old, too. Stu immediately conks out before he can kiss Didi goodnight, and she shuts off the light and goes to bed.
Tommy and Chuckie enter the bedroom and find Stu snoring away. Tommy deduces that robots wouldn’t need to breathe, and Chuckie tentatively agrees. He climbs up onto the bed, crawls up to Stu’s face and sticks his index fingers in Stu’s nostrils. Stu snorts and wheezes, and in a powerful attempt to exhale, sends Tommy toppling backwards. Stu wakes up and sees the boys on the floor, staring blankly at him.
After Stu takes the kids back to the nursery, ties the crib back together with shoelaces and leaves, Tommy unties the shoelaces as he explains to Chuckie that he’s still not convinced that Stu is not a robot, explaining that there were noises coming from inside of him (his snoring). They get out of the crib and Tommy gets a wrench from his toy box (a plastic one, I assume), as well as a flashlight.
When they return to the bedroom, Tommy gives the flashlight to Chuckie and crawls up onto the bed. He unbuttons Stu’s pajamas obviously looking for bolts and screws to open up the “chest plate” (like the robot in the movie). He points to Stu’s nipples and says, “See? There they are!”
Holy shit, those things are erect!
The look on Chuckie’s face is fucking priceless.
Tommy takes the wrench and squeezes one nipple and Stu wakes up screaming, which scares the boys and makes them scream, too. I am not ashamed to tell you people that this entire scene still cracks my shit up over two decades later. Mention it to me just once and I’ll be grinning like an idiot all day.
Back in the nursery, Stu takes more extreme measures as he secures the crib a second time. Well, this is shaping up to be an eventful, strenuous night for both babies and adults.
Tommy and Chuckie escape by using… a blanket tied in knots? How very A Man Escaped of him. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less from an infant who knows how to use an elevator.
The boys take Tommy’s toy tool box with them this time. “Tiny Tools.” You know, it’s like these people knew that twenty-some years later, “mind-in-the-gutter” people like me would be recapping and finding dirty humor in seemingly innocuous things like a fucking plastic tool box labeled “Tiny Tools.”
Chuckie pleads with Tommy to go back to the nursery. Tommy says not until he finds out for sure that Stu isn’t a robot, and Chuckie exasperatedly throws his hands up and says there’s no such thing as robots. Just then, Stu gets up and starts sleepwalking. He makes this groaning noise that frightens the babies, and they run out screaming.
Okay, bullshit. Didi can’t hear shit going on five or ten feet away from her because of a fucking pillow on her ear? Hell, I can hear shit going on in the apartment below mine, pillow or not.
The babies run downstairs (miraculously without falling) and Stu follows in hot pursuit. He chases them all the way to the kitchen, with Chuckie shouting, “You were right! He is a robot!” Along the way, Tommy finds the TV on and the robot movie still playing, and Stu knocks over a bunch of breakable shit, like clay planters and lamps.
Tommy and Chuckie hide in a cabinet and Stu heads for the refrigerator and retrieves… a bowl of noodles and a carton of eggs. Hold on to your seats, folks, it’s omelet time. Stu is talking to an “audience” as he is dreaming of hosting a live cooking show. As Tommy and Chuckie watch on, Stu drops the bowl of noodles into Tommy’s high chair and calls the chair his “lovely assistant Ramona” and starts breaking eggs on the floor and counting each one, like one-potato, two-potato, three-potato, six-potato, fourteen-potato, sixteen-potato, one hundred nineteen-potato… you get the idea. It’s pretty funny, and the kids think he’s talking in robot code. Actually, my husband has said his fair share of funny shit in his sleep, too. Among my favorites are, “I love chocolate swirlies,” “We don’t have anymore of that stuff on the carts” (in response to me asking him where my cell phone was) and my personal favorite, “Idu diku, Kermit.” (I think he was trying to do his Muppet Babies Animal impression and say, “Okey-dokey, Kermit.” I looked up “idu diku” on Google Translate for fun, and apparently it means “go for beauty” in Serbian and “tenth of the germ” in Estonian. My husband speaks neither language, which makes it all the more hilarious.)
Stu notices the babies watching, and in his sleep thinks it’s Drew spying and trying to steal his recipe. (“This is my cooking show, Drew!”) Tommy and Chuckie run to the living room with Stu in hot pursuit.
I have to admit, this is a pretty creepy image. If my dad walked toward me like this, swung his arms in an attempt to grab me and addressed me as “Drew,” I’d most likely piss my pants.
Tommy sees the remote control for the TV and tries to turn Stu off. When that doesn’t work, he and Chuckie run back to the nursery. Stu dances with a lamp and then falls asleep on the armchair.
All the commotion finally gets Didi’s attention and she goes downstairs. She sees the mess in the living room (I wonder if she went apeshit when she walked into the kitchen?) and sees Stu snoozing on the armchair and doing the “one-potato, two potato” count in his sleep. He addresses Didi as “Ramona” and she’s momentarily pissed until he explains that Ramona is an assistant from his dream cooking show, not a side chick. She realizes he’s been sleepwalking and they go upstairs together. Might wanna confront the lamp, though.
Okay, why does Chuckie have a mouthful of teeth? Animators, did you just say fuck all to continuity?
Stu and Didi stop in the nursery and Tommy and Chuckie, still scared shitless, pretend to be asleep. Tommy overhears Stu telling Didi about a dream he kept having in which Tommy kept trying to open his chest with a plastic screwdriver like he was a robot. Tommy smiles as Didi assures Stu that he (Tommy) would never do that, and Stu remarks that Tommy is a great kid. So great, he’d try to open up your chest with a plastic screwdriver. Oh wait, it was a wrench.
Tommy decides his dad isn’t a robot after all, and Chuckie ponders the possibility of his dad being a robot and I laugh at the visual of Chaz getting his nipples tweaked and screaming bloody murder.
Wait, when did Didi get hot?
Synopsis: Stu buys a doll from a competitor. Tommy thinks this means he’s getting a new baby sister.
We open with Stu working unsuccessfully on a walking, talking doll called Patty Pants. The doll eventually shorts out and stops working. I have to say, that doll is pretty fug.
Tommy and a mailman get caught up in a rousing round of reverse tug-of-war with today’s mail (the mailman wins) when the mailman finally looks through the slot to see an angry dog flashing his teeth and barking. He promptly shoves the last of the mail, a thick catalog, into the slot and into Spike’s mouth, then leaves.
The catalog is from a toy company called Eggbert, a competitor of Pickles Toys. Stu thumbs through the catalog and sees that Eggbert has released a doll similar to Stu’s Patty Pants doll called Tina Trousers, available for next-day delivery. Tina Trousers is actually a lot cuter-looking than Patty Pants. Tina Trousers is basically a walking, talking version of Baby Alive. (I totally had one of those when I was seven!) In fact, Tina Trousers actually gets realistic diaper rash. Inventive? Stu bemoans the fact that his doll can’t even say the right catchphrases, let alone wet realistically. Didi assures him that Eggbert always hypes up products that are never any good, and advises Stu to order one and see for himself. Stu decides that this is a good idea and goes to order one. I have to agree that this makes perfect sense. Stu can check out his competitor’s project and see exactly where the flaws are and release a better doll. (I hope this means refining her physical appearance a bit, that Patty Pants doll is scary as fuck!)
Holy shit, you guys. Something actually makes sense in the Rugrats universe! Somebody hold me! Anyway, Didi shows Tommy the Patty Pants doll in the catalog and tells him that a “new baby” is coming in the mail. Tommy is rightfully confused.
Betty shows up with Phil, Lil and Chuckie and Stu is downright rude to her. He bursts into the living room asking Didi for the catalog, then says, very rudely, “Oh, hi, Betty.” What the fuck? Didi explains to Betty that Stu is just stressed out over the Patty Pants project, but that’s still no excuse to be an asshole. Betty and Didi put the babies in the playpen and head to the kitchen for some coffee. Tommy tells his friends that his parents are getting another baby. Phil and Lil reveal that Betty wants another baby, too. Okay, Betty? You have two infants right now; don’t go back for seconds if your plate’s already full. Just sayin’. Chuckie asks Phil and Lil where Betty would find another baby, and Phil and Lil argue back and forth whether you go to a store or a stork brings them. Chuckie puts a stop to the argument by saying that his mom (the one that supposedly died) told him that he came from the hospital. Tommy says the baby his parents are getting is coming in the mail. Chuckie is impressed that Tommy’s family is getting a baby that’s going to be pushed through the mail slot (insert birthing joke here).
The next day, Tommy is sitting on a little stool in front of the mail slot, waiting for Tina Trousers. The usual mail comes through, but no doll. Stu opens the door and immediately demands to know where the package is. The same poor mailman from the day before, who has been attacked by every dog on the block up to this point, tries to keep his composure as he explains that the package was too large to carry and that Stu would have to pick it up. Stu starts screaming that he doesn’t have time to go to the post office and that the postal service isn’t as good as it used to be. God, STFU, Stu.
Tommy, unnoticed (of course), dives into the mailbag and looks for Tina Trousers. He sees a baby magazine, flips through it and says, “Baaaaaaaby,” rather lustily, and I die a little inside.
When the mailman arrives at the post office, Tommy crawls out of the bag and onto a stool next to a conveyor belt. He spies a package that – I guess – is kind of shaped like a baby (it turns out to be just a vase). He climbs onto the belt, and… well, you can guess what kind of Rube Goldberg-esque shenanigans unfold….
What. In. The. Fuck.
No, seriously, what in the fuck? Did the writers and animators just not give a shit? Good God, that is horrible! That poor guy. That poor dead guy. Imagine… being trapped in there for the rest of your days, alone, starving to death. Since he’s a skeleton, it’s pretty obvious he’s been down there a long time. I wonder how long before his family just gave up looking for him?
Obviously, if the only other living human to have ever reached this little area died and was never heard from again, then it’s clear this room was never, ever intended for human use and it’s pretty fucking pointless to have those levers (unreachable ones, at that), isn’t it?
Well, after that series of events (which, of course, also goes completely unnoticed, because it’s fucking Rugrats), he finally makes it to the end of the line, where the Tina Trousers package awaits. The box is not even wrapped in any sort of paper, so Tommy can see the doll through that little cellophane window on the box. He opens the box (which isn’t even taped shut, proving Didi’s point about the Eggbert company not exactly being high quality) and dives in, making conversation with Tina Trousers, whose only response is, “Mama!”
Stu is in line at the post office, and when the postal clerk at the package desk calls on him, he immediately starts screaming at her. Literally. She actually calls him out for being rude, but he doesn’t get the memo. She hands him the box and tells him there’s no charge because the box is damaged (which Stu snaps at her for, as if she has anything to do with the condition of the box), and Stu storms off muttering about the shitty service at the post office. Stu, you’re a dick.
And of course, he never notices that Tommy is in the box with the doll, not even when he opens the package and takes out the Tina Trousers doll. Clueless idiot. It isn’t until Lou comes into the kitchen and sees the package that he finds Tommy in the packing peanut-filled box.
By the way, I just love how this episode indirectly foreshadows a certain new addition to the Pickles clan a few years later.
Damn it, Dil, why did you (and Kimi, for that matter) have to go and shit on one of my favorite Nicktoons? I curse the day you were born!