The first episode of the first season of Rugrats.
The episode begins in Tommy's bedroom. Stu and Didi wish Tommy a happy first birthday as they hang a "Happy Birthday" banner over his crib. As Didi changes Tommy's diaper and dresses Tommy in a pair of blue overalls, Stu tells her about the Hoverama, a toy he invented and is planning to give to Tommy as a birthday present. Didi and Stu then take Tommy to the kitchen to feed him his breakfast of strained carrots. As they try to feed Tommy, they go over the plans for his first birthday, including a puppet show that is planned to happen at 11:00. Grandpa Lou, who is hanging up party decorations, overhears, finding the puppet show pointless if its audience of one-year-olds won't even remember it, but Stu and Didi insist on giving Tommy only the best for his first birthday. As they continue attempting to feed Tommy, Tommy sees a commercial for Huskie's Choice brand dog food on a nearby television. This commercial gives him the idea to want to eat dog food, so Tommy distracts Stu by splatting his strained carrots on Stu's shirt. As Didi is distracted with trying to clean up the stain, Tommy escapes from his high chair and crawls over to Spike's food bowl, only for Lou to stop him, telling him he doesn't want to eat dog food when he has his own breakfast to eat. When Lou looks at Tommy's strained carrots, he admits that the dog food does look more appetizing by comparison.
The doorbell rings, and Didi answers it. Betty and Howard have arrived for the party with their twins, Phil and Lil, and Chuckie Finster, the neighbors' son. As they drop the kids off in the playpen, Betty overhears Lou complaining about the puppet show, and greets him by slapping him on the back, asking him how he's been lately. An irritated Lou tells her he felt better. Betty then overhears noise in the basement, and asks Lou what's going on. Lou tells her that Stu is building the Hoverama as Tommy's birthday present.
As the babies play in the playpen, Didi and Betty notice Spike chewing on Tommy's teddy bear, and rush outside to stop him. As they do, Tommy tells Chuckie, Phil, and Lil about how he tried to eat Spike's dog food, but Lou stopped him before he had the chance. Chuckie asks Tommy why he wants to eat it, and Tommy believes that eating dog food will turn him into a dog. He wants to be a dog, believing that he could do whatever he wants, including sleeping in the flowerbed. As he says this, Lou scolds Spike to stop rolling around in Didi's flowerbed. Phil and Lil are enthusiastic about becoming dogs, but Chuckie isn't, since dogs get fleas. This only entices Phil and Lil to want to become dogs even more than before. Before the babies can leave the playpen, Didi and Betty dress them in party hats and take pictures of them. Betty is eager to start the party, but Didi tells her to wait until all the guests have arrived. Betty asks her who's missing, and Didi tells her that Tommy's cousin, Angelica, is. The babies are all shocked when they hear that Angelica is coming.
Angelica is dressed in a special party dress as she asks her father, Drew, if she can play with Tommy when they arrive at his house. Drew tells her yes, and there are lots of good things to look forward to, including the cake Aunt Didi is baking, and the puppet show Uncle Stu is going to put on. As he tells her this, Angelica tries to reach for the present Drew bought Tommy, only to be stopped when Drew stops his car at Tommy's house. In the basement, Stu has just finished wrapping up the Hoverama, when his messenger robot tells him the doorbell is ringing. Stu goes over to his control panel and finds out that Drew and Angelica have arrived. He greets them and tells them he'll be right up to see them. When he gets up, Stu tells Drew about the Hoverama as he puts Angelica in the playpen with the babies. Didi dresses Angelica in a party hat and takes pictures of her. When she leaves, Tommy nervously greets Angelica and asks her what she knows about dog food. Angelica shows her true colors towards Tommy when she demands that she be the first to play with his toys when the presents are opened, but only briefly, as she becomes curious about dog food. Chuckie tells her about how Tommy believes eating dog food will turn him into a dog. Upon hearing this, Angelica decides she wants to be a dog so she can bite the mailman, and agrees to help Tommy and his friends get some dog food.
In the second act, Tommy draws up a plan to get Spike's dog food as Betty looks over the cake Didi baked. Didi is nervous, as she wants the party to be perfect, and the puppet show she booked is fourteen minutes late. The doorbell rings, and Betty tells her the puppet show may have arrived just now. Didi answers the door, and her parents, Boris and Minka, have arrived as guests for the party. Tommy crawls into the kitchen, about to reach Spike's food bowl, when Boris and Minka find him and give him hugs and kisses. Stu, who now has his Hoverama ready, is glad that Boris and Minka have arrived, as now that everyone's here, they can open presents.
In the living room, Didi opens Tommy's first present, a toy fire engine from Drew. Stu is unimpressed with it, but Phil and Lil fight over it until Angelica takes it from them. Stu then opens his gift to Tommy, the Hoverama, which is revealed to be a remote control flying saucer. Lou doubts that himself, let alone Tommy, can fly it, but Stu insists that anyone can figure it out. He tries to demonstrate it by pointing the remote control at the Hoverama, but it does nothing. Stu then realizes that he forgot to put the batteries in the remote, embarrassing himself in front of Tommy's friends and family. Didi tries to calm him down by telling him the Hoverama will be Tommy's favorite toy once it's up and running. Didi then opens Howard's present, a pair of baby monitors that Drew and Lou use as a pair of walkie-talkies. They have a lot of fun with them, but Didi suddenly notices that Tommy is missing.
Tommy is in the kitchen, about to crawl up to Spike's food bowl, but Didi catches him and brings him back to the living room, telling him that he has many more presents to open. Tommy doesn't want to open any more presents. All he wants to do is eat dog food, so he does the only thing he can do; cry. As Didi tries to calm him down, she tells Betty that so far, the party has been a disaster. Betty disagrees, telling her that the dads are happy with the presents thus far. The doorbell then rings, and Didi, believing the puppet show to have arrived, puts down Tommy and rushes to the door.
A caterer is at the door, and brings in the puppets and the puppet stand that Stu and Didi rented. Unfortunately, Stu and Didi only rented the puppets and the puppet stand, but no professional puppeteers, which leads her to inform the other adults of the bad news. Stu then has an idea; he and Drew could fill in for the puppeteers, but Drew and Lou both object to this idea, as the last puppet show Stu and Drew did ended in disaster. Stu assures Lou that his and Drew's last puppet show was many years ago, when they were only eight and nine years old, and convinces Drew to do Fairy Tale Finales.
Everyone goes to the living room, and the puppet show begins. Stu and Drew attempt to perform the climax of Little Red Riding Hood, with Stu as Little Red Riding Hood, and Drew as the Wolf, but they quickly begin to argue over how the lines go. As they argue, Tommy crawls into the kitchen, only to find Spike's food bowl is now empty. When Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica follow Tommy to the kitchen, Spike is there, and they believe that Tommy's plan to turn into a dog worked. They ask Spike what it's like to be a dog, but Spike walks into the kitchen, where they find Tommy sitting sadly next to Spike's food bowl, believing him to have changed back into a baby. Tommy tells them that he never turned into a dog, as Spike ate all the dog food before he could get the chance. Lil and Angelica are upset when they hear this, but Tommy soon sees another can of dog food sitting on top of a high shelf.
Back in the living room, Stu and Drew begin to argue about stuff that happened many years ago, when they were children. Lou tries to break them up with his own puppet of the Woodsman, but to no avail. All the adults are completely unaware that in the kitchen, Tommy and Angelica are trying to get a can of dog food from a high shelf by standing atop a pile of pots and pans. Angelica tells Chuckie that she can't go any higher, but then, Chuckie has an idea. He pulls a pair of batteries out of his pants pocket and puts them in the remote control of the Hoverama. As Stu and Drew continue arguing, none of the adults notice the Hoverama flying away. With the help of the Hoverama, Tommy and Angelica get the can of dog food down from the shelf, but make a huge mess of the kitchen in the process.
Back in the living room, Stu gets upset over Tony Bow-Wow, his favorite stuffed toy, whose ears were torn off by Drew when he was four years old. As Didi tries to calm Stu down and Drew apologizes for what he did, the Hoverama flies Tommy onto Spike's back, then lands in Didi's cake. All the adults turn their attention to it, and Didi is outraged, as nothing has gone right all day. The party is ruined, her cake is destroyed, and the puppet show is a total disaster. Howard disagrees with her, until she and Betty glare angrily at him. Tommy then runs happily to Didi, calming her down. Stu then pulls the Hoverama out of the cake, ruining his shirt in the process. Boris then tastes the cake, complaining that it should have been a chocolate cake, believing it to have been more suitable. Minka argues with him, and Didi tries to break them up.
Lou finds Spike's can of dog food and opens it for him. Spike decides that he isn't hungry right now, so he lets Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica help themselves to it. Upon tasting the dog food, all the babies (except for Phil) find out it tastes terrible and spit it out. Nothing happens at first, but then Tommy says that he feels something, and begins to act like a dog by barking and crawling around. Phil and Lil pretend to have fleas, Chuckie hopes that he can grow fur, and Angelica hopes that the mailman will come soon. All the babies act like dogs, and all the adults turn their attention to them. They all feel happy seeing this moment, because even though the day was far from perfect, their kids are all having a good time. Didi takes a picture, which is forever included on the pages of the Pickles Family photo album. The album closes, ending the first of many adventures featuring Tommy Pickles and his friends.
This episode provides examples of:
- Attack Hello: Betty does this to Lou when she sees him putting up party decorations.Betty (slapping Lou on the back) Hey there, old-timer! How the Heck are you?
Lou: I've felt better!
- Birthday Episode: Tommy celebrates his first birthday in this episode.
- Characterization Marches On: Based on Chuckie's use of Stu's Hover-rama, he apparently was originally meant to be a brainy Child Prodigy.
- Death Glare: Near the end of this episode, Howard says that Stu and Drew gave a spirited performance for the puppet show, only to take it back when Didi and Betty glare angrily at him.
- The Diaper Change: At the beginning of this episode, Didi changes Tommy's diaper.
- Dog Food Diet: After seeing a commercial for Huskie's Choice dog food, Tommy wants desperately to eat some of the dog food laid out for his dog, Spike, believing it will turn him into a dog. His grandfather stops him, and then says, "Hmm...I see your point..." upon looking at a bowl of strained carrots. Thus, Tommy goes on a mission to get some dog food with the help of his friends and his cousin, Angelica.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Angelica's voice sounds more babyish in this episode. In addition, Tommy is seen wearing a red t-shirt and suspenders rather than the light blue shirt he would wear throughout the rest of the series.
- Eating Pet Food: Tommy convinces the other babies to hunt down some dog food, thinking that it would make them into dogs. When they finally get to it and eat some, they immediately spit it out in disgust (except for Phil, who says he likes it).
- Ill-Fated Flowerbed: Spike rolls around in the flowerbed of Didi's garden, which is one of the reasons why Tommy wants to eat dog food so he can become a dog. As Spike rolls around in the flowerbed, Lou scolds him to get out.
- Manchild: While filling in for the puppeteers at the puppet show, Stu and Drew begin to fight over things they did to each other as children.
- Mailman vs. Dog: Angelica wants to eat dog food and turn into a dog so that she can bite the mailman.
- Noodle Incident: The last puppet show Stu and Drew put on was back when they were eight and nine years old. According to Stu, it resulted in him having a broken arm and Drew having a black eye.
- Angelica's face is drawn very weirdly in the beginning of the second act, when Tommy draws a plan to get Spike's dog food.
- Near the end of the episode, when Tommy and his friends act like dogs after eating Spike's dog food, Angelica is seen wearing her normal attire instead of the party dress she wears throughout the episode.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Angelica agrees to help Tommy and his friends get some dog food, because she wants to turn into a dog so she can bite the mailman.
- This Is Reality: When Didi frets that she won't be the kind of mother on television, Betty rebuttals "TV's TV. We're real".