Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Angry Beavers turn 27, and are as angry as ever

The classic Nickelodeon cartoon is streaming on Paramount+.
The Angry Beavers
The Angry Beavers /

27 years ago, on April 19, 1997, The Angry Beavers premiered on Nickelodeon. Created by Mitch Schauer and running over the course of 62 episodes, the animated series chronicled the adventures of Norbert and Daggett, the beavers of the title. And while the show at the time seemed to play as a mild rip-off of the insanely popular Ren & Stimpy Show, these angry beavers deserve to be judged on their own merits.

Look, the DNA is clearly there. Schauer was an assistant storyboard artist on Ren & Stimpy, as well as other classic (less yell-y) Nicktoons like Rocko’s Modern Life and Hey Arnold. But – and this is coming from the perspective of someone who was obsessed with these shows back in the day – there was something about the framing of two animal characters yelling at each other who were friends with a tree stump named Stump – shades of the iconic “Log” song from Ren & Stimpy – that felt like a pale rip-off.

It wasn’t though, and continues not to be Ren & Stimpy 2.0. While the former series erred on the side of surreality and strained the horror of what animation can do – those close-ups of Ren and Stimpy’s faces haunt me to this day – Angry Beavers, despite the name, is much goofier and sweeter. Ren & Stimpy was counterculture; Angry Beavers leaned back to the days of vaudeville and slapstick. If anything, Angry Beavers is arguably more of a kids show than Ren & Stimpy, which was often more in line with MTV’s Liquid Television than what fellow Viacom network Nickelodeon was producing.

This is a long way of saying that nearly three decades down the road, the comedy of Angry Beavers still holds up for both kids and adults because it leaned into the classic tropes that have been omnipresent since performance began. Norbert Foster "Norb" Beaver (Nick Bakay) is the smart, practical one – to use comedy terms, he’s the straight man. Daggett Doofus "Dag" Beaver (Richard Steven Horovitz) is the goofy, emotional one, and the heart of the show – the crazy man of the pair. And the show lovingly pays tribute not just to Vaudeville, but cartoons past through Easter eggs like Daggett’s Rocky & Bullwinkle phone.

But more than anything, The Angry Beavers is just laugh-out-loud funny. It leans into goofiness, and bits, and really like the best of classic cartoons is just trying to make you laugh. With all five seasons streaming now on Paramount+x, there’s never been a better time to check out a cartoon that perhaps has unfairly fallen through the cracks of animated history. Now that’s something to not get angry about.

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