“Ickis, Oblina and Krumm are back for a second season of spine-chilling, gut-busting adventures!”
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters ran for four seasons on Nickelodeon starting in 1994. Season 2 consists of thirteen episodes, each consisting of two minisodes which can and often do stand alone, making the series appealing to viewers new and old alike. It’s easy to simply pop in a disc and choose an episode at random. The downside is a lack of connectedness to the characters who simply become “the teacher,” “the dumb one,” “the screw-up,” and “the know-it-all.”
The show features three students — Ickis (Charles Adler, The Super Hero Squad Show), Krumm (David Eccles, Rugrats), and Oblina (Christine Cavanaugh, Rugrats) — and their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger, Hot in Cleveland), at The Academy (a school for monsters).
One of the reasons Real Monsters lasted as long as it did is the gross-out factor. Parents felt okay that their kids were watching characters spewing, because they could chalk it up to the actions of imaginary beings. And it’s a pretty universal conceit that kids will watch most gross things without complaint. The other reason is the show’s predictable nature; there are only a few ways an episode plays out…1) The Gromble holds class, picks one who has to “scare up” a scare to share, Ickis almost never has one and gets threatened with expulsion if he doesn’t find a way to complete the assignment; 2) The story has nothing to do with the classroom and focuses on one of Krumm’s bodily functions; or 3) The trio of friends take on an adventure unrelated to a class assignment, where Oblina — the best student — helps Ickis and Krumm solve whatever dilemma plagues them.
Presented in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, the above average quality is standard for a Shout! Factory release. Real Monsters’ artistic style is reminiscent of other Nickelodeon cartoons produced in the same era, notably Duckman and Rugrats. Nostalgic as that may be, the visuals do date the show. The palette is rather flat with only the slime and other gross concoctions getting a bright touch. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix holds up well, with all its many screams coming through crisp and clear. There are no special features, which isn’t too surprising.
In all honesty, I found Real Monsters pretty forgettable fare. Then again, I wasn’t a fan when it was originally broadcast. I fully recognize the show has fans who’ve been enamored since its inception. The series works best when it parodies classics, like in the minisode “Rosh-O-Monster,” but it’s safe to say the Rashomon references went completely over the target audience’s head. So if you enjoy obscure references to things like that, or you’re a fan of things that are “so stupid it’s funny,” Real Monsters might be something you respond to.