Paramount // 1989 // 304 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // April 4th, 2006
All 13 original grossed-out episodes!
Garbage Pail Kids was a cartoon produced in 1989 for CBS, but the thirteen episodes never made it onto American airwaves. A group named Action for Children's Television objected to the show, and their protest effectively stopped broadcast here in the States. Funny thing is the group never even so much as saw a clip of the show, let alone sat through any episodes. So not many people have seen the series, and now we get it on DVD. Wonders never cease, because now we are getting shows on DVD that never even aired. But then, those dang Garbage Pail Kids are celebrating something of a comeback, and I've seen actual new packages of the trading cards near some Target checkout lines. They seem to be the retro toy of the moment in some circles.
But first, I should explain just what a Garbage Pail Kid is. Back in the '80s Cabbage Patch Kids became the hottest dolls on the planet. I remember one fateful Christmas when parents were literally fighting each other over the damn soft-sculptured dolls produced by Coleco from an original design by a dollmaker named Xavier Roberts. Every girl and quite a few boys had put them on the annual Santa wish list, and demand far outweighed supply. It was madness. Topps was a company that made trading cards (baseball and Wacky Packages, which satirized common household products), and they knew it was time for a spoof. So they made an entire collectible card series of really gross kids who puked, farted, and picked boogers, capturing the hearts of toilet-humor-loving kids across the schoolyards who thought Cabbage Patch Kids were stupid. The backlash had begun, led by Patty Puke, Messy Marvin, and Adam Bomb. The sweetness of the Cabbage Patch Kids had given birth to the craze of cards featuring rude and crude creations only kids would love.
So the Garbage Pail Kids were naturals for an entire franchise. First came the ill-fated live-action movie, appropriately called The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, in 1987. It didn't do so well, and, to quote DVD Verdict's own Judge Naugle, "shoddily made and thrown together does not adequately describe this celluloid turd." So it didn't do much to promote the line of trading cards, but it didn't kill the craze either. The next attempt at a multimedia revolution was this cartoon. It's better than the movie, that much I can say. Although I'm still not quite sure what anyone was thinking.
The cartoon stars the following "kids":
* Split Kit -- a punky/preppy kid who is half nice and half naughty and can split in two
* Eliot Mess -- a boy who can take off his head and limbs and hold them
* Clogged Duane -- a boy who can turn his body into goo and enter plumbing
* Patty Putty -- a girl who can stretch her body like that guy in The Fantastic Four
* Terry Cloth -- a girl who can wipe off her face onto her hand, so you can literally "talk to the hand"
They are like superheroes in some way, although I am hard pressed to explain exactly why they win any confrontations with their silly gross skills. Where's Adam Bomb when you need him? I'd take his powers over a chick who can put her face on her hand any day. Mixed in with these kids and their adventures are skits and movie parodies featuring other popular trading card characters. These are freaking bizarre! Imagine an Independence Day alien invasion scenario where the aliens are greeted by trashy kids, or a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark featuring Idaho Spud and the Temple of Trash. Or how about Jaws mixed with Titanic starring Richard Dryfish? At least we don't see Anthony Newley or MacKenzie Austin gagging over poorly rendered foam rubber puppets.
If all this fulfills your dreams as a collector, here's the good news. The transfers are very solid, with nice color saturation and not many problems with scratches or digital artifacts. The stereo mix is more mono than two channel, but it does quite well with the score and sound effects. There aren't any extras, which is a shame. There were teaser ads that ran on CBS before the show was pulled, which could have been included, and nobody relates the history of the struggle to get it taken off the air. I would have loved to see historic footage of soccer moms crying foul that their children would be corrupted by a cartoon. I love America, always trying to save the children.
The truth is that the show isn't even as mildly offensive as the trading cards or the live-action movie. In fact, I found it downright cute at times, with a good sense of morality. Sure, the kids had gross aspects, but they always used their genetic mutations for good causes. Think X-Men, but with sillier powers. The voices sound like actual kids, not adults pretending to be younger. I don't see much in it for adults, except for the nostalgia value, but there's a whole kid vibe to the show that will make it a hit with the underage set. It certainly has an energy that you can't deny, with fast-moving plots mixed with short skits. No need to take your ADD medication before it.
If you're a fan, or the kids love them -- it's worth a look. Nothing truly shocking about the show except for how tame it is. I wish Paramount had provided some extras, but the idea of releasing a show that was never even aired is pretty special in and of itself. The Garbage Pail Kids are obviously a special sort of trash -- the kind that won't burn.
Review content copyright © 2006 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 304 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Garbage Pail Kids Official Site