DVD Review: Garbage Pail Kids - The Complete Series
Release Date: April 4, 2006
Distributor: Paramount Home Video
by Dan Weltin
Published: April 7, 2006
In 1989 CBS purchased 13 episodes of a Garbage Pail Kids cartoon based on the popular Topp’s trading cards. The show even had a great lead in: Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Unfortunately, before it ever aired, Action for Children’s Television protested claiming blatant commercialism. In addition, letters poured in from parents and teachers pleading for the cartoon to be stopped. It worked.
Now, nearly 20 years later, 80s nostalgia lives again, as the first and only season is released on a two-disc DVD set.
Despite parents’ concern, the show is actually quite tame. It seems the creators anticipated heat from adults, and instead of using characters such as Gore May who eats her own snot, or Deaf Geoff who ruptures his head with a boombox, they featured five of the milder Garbage Pail Kids. For instance there’s Clogged Duane who can liquefy himself; Elliot Mess who can scramble his body parts; Split Kid who is half normal kid and half punk rocker; an elder version of Patty Putty who can stretch herself; and then a girl simply called Janet who can wipe her face clean and put it on her hand. These kids are actually normal kids, but when trouble arises, they “trash out” and turn into their dirtier alter egos.
Each episode is split into two main parts. The first is a movie parody such as "Supernerd" or "Butch Casualty and the Sunburnt Kid". The back half of the show follows the adventures of the aforementioned five kids who save the day from criminals who reprogram batteries to ruin toys or steal the head of Wrinklin Lincoln from Mt. Trashmore. These two parts are bridged by small takes that are similar to the content on the back of the trading cards: bad jokes, commercials and a segment called “Would We Lie to You?” featuring ridiculous and fictitious facts.
True fans of the trading cards will be able to recognize cameos by many of the Garbage Pail Kids, including Hot Doug, Alien Ian, Nat Nerd, Miles Smiles, Totem Paula, and Michelle Muck, to name only a few. They are everywhere. It’s probably more enjoyable just looking for characters than it is actually watching the episode.
The episodes themselves are not very funny -- even for kids, the then primary audience. There are too many bad puns and practically every joke is about trash, which should come as no surprise. It’s smart that the show is broken up into different segments because a full 20 minutes of either story would be far too long. The eight to 10 minutes they actually run is pushing the audience’s patience and attention span already. Only the clips in between the main blocks are mildly amusing and the enjoyment is probably heightened by their short length.
There are no bonus features, nor is there even an insert listing all the episodes. Viewers only get the 13 episodes to decide the show’s worth. Which is too bad because a gallery of poplular Garbage Pail Kids cards would have been a slick extra. I guess again CBS was trying to refrain from grossing anyone out.
Nowadays more 20-somethings will buy this set for nostalgia than children looking for animated entertainment. Unfortunately, it won’t entertain either audience. This DVD collection is best as a piece of pop culture history, much like the cards themselves.