It's time for a doggy dialogue.
Rex the Runt, Rex the Runt,
The wobbly, bobbly, dribbly, squiggly, DOGGGGG!!!"
A very bizarre stopmotion animated series from Aardman Animations (the makers of Wallace & Gromit) chronicling the day-to-day lives of four plasticine dogs: the titular straight man Rex, trigger happy slob Bad Bob, sarcastic Token Female Wendy, and erm... Vince, a somewhat batty dog who suffers from spontaneous bouts of Random Pavarotti Disease and has a strange fixation for Tuesdays, jam and hoovers. Much of the gang's shenanigans often dealt with them seeking ways to achieve fame & fortune (due to constantly being broke), going on adventures in order to please "the bloke who runs telly"... or simply just screwing with the audience's heads.
The show ran for two series shown between 1998 and 2001 on BBC Two, but had a shaky timeslot because of its often irreverent nature, as well as much Executive Meddling and a slight shift in voice cast. It has, however, found a much wider audience on the Web since Atom Films showcased the series (as well as other Aardman shorts such as Pib and Pog and Angry Kid), and is overall a great start for those willing to check out the studio's more offbeat productions. However, since the closure of Atom Films in 2012, the series can frequently be seen in repeats on BBC Two at 9:00pm every weekday.
Rex the Runt features examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Vince in the episode "Stinky's Search for a Star", as he becomes addicted to the soy sauce note that Rex buys at World of Food.
- Ascended Extra: Rex first appeared as the protagonist's pet dog in the surreal 1989 Aardman short Ident. Richard Goleszowski, animator and art director on Ident, and director of Rex the Runt, overhauled the character (making him bipedal and able to speak) for a couple of unaired pilot episodes several years before the series proper was made.
- Back-Alley Doctor: Dr. Dogg, whose medical treatments usually consist of beating the patient in the head. He is also on hand to sell whatever else he can, almost always charging "ten quid" for his services.
- Black Comedy: The series dips into this occasionally, nowhere more so than in "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing".
- The Cameo: Various characters from other Aardman animations make cameos, including Wallace (of Wallace & Gromit) as a window cleaner, and Pib and Pog in the audience of Stinky Basil's Search for a Star talent show.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Rex, as shown in the episode "Easter Island".
- Catchphrase - Almost everything that Vince says.
- At the start of most episodes: "Hello, I'm Rex, and welcome to my world."
- "You're a big fat jelly wobbly fat bastard, Bob."
- "Ten quid, all right?"
- Censored for Comedy: In the episode "Mouse in Me Kitchen", one of Vince's non-sequiturs is bleeped:Rex: Vince! You can stop fanning me now, thank you! I'm not unconscious anymore. (Vince eats the towel he was fanning Rex with) How are we gonna get rid of the damn thing? noteVince: Mouse! ***tard! Kill! Eat! Eat! Kill!
- Church of Happyology: In the episode "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing", Wendy is inducted into the "Church of Chemicalology" by celebrity talking sausage Johnny Saveloy. It soon turns out that he is luring in victims in order to drain their essence and prolong his own life.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Vince, whose contributions to most conversations consist of little more than random outbursts of opera singing, single-word non-sequiturs ("Spaghetti!" "Tuesday!" "Jam!" "Trousers!"), and snippets of radio broadcasts.
- Cranky Neighbor: Mr. Chittock, Rex and co.'s next door neighbour who has despised the gang ever since they ended up in his house and drunk his beer in the episode "Too Many Dogs".
- Crazy Homeless Person: The Dog Living In The Binbag in the episode "Carbonara", who tells Bad Bob, or, as he calls him, "fish face" to sod off, or he'll have him for trespassing, and if he does it again, he'll get Constable Funnyname on him.
- Curse Cut Short:
- Inconsistently throughout the second season, the catchphrase "You're a big fat jelly wobbly fat bastard, Bob" gets cut short at "bast-".
- Also Mr. Formal's reaction when he receives a polite but unhelpful form letter from the police immediately after getting robbed: "Oh, fu-".
- In "Wendy's New Hair Do", after Bad Bob supposedly drinks Wendy's truth serum and reveals what he did at the Halloween party, Rex says "You fu-" before it cuts to the next scene.
- Deadpan Snarker: Wendy most of the time, occasionally Rex when he's annoyed enough.
- Drives Like Crazy: Bad Bob, as shown in the episode "The City Shrinkers", as when he and the rest of the gang were in a traffic jam, he suggested to Rex that he go round the other cars. When Rex refused, Bad Bob took the wheel and drove round the other cars. Wendy chastised him after they got to their destination.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first two pilots are much shorter, have less smooth animation and are somehow even more surreal than the TV series. Wendy is also grey, unlike in the series where she's pink, and Rex himself is also greyer than in the series, where he's a lighter purplish-grey.
- Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: The dogs meet a group of Moai-headed aliens after crashing their helicopter on a desert island.
- Embarrassing Last Name: The last name of the gallery owner, Valerie, is Boner.
- Eyedscreen: Played with. A boxing coach faces down a gang of unruly pigeons in the style of a spaghetti western; the action is framed as a letterboxed widescreen shot, because Bad Bob is watching the confrontation though the letterbox of his front door.
- Fan Boy: Rex fancies himself as the number one fan of Show Within a Show Rocket Raymond - to the point that when he meets another similarly obsessed fan (also, confusingly, named Rex), an argument ensues over the factual accuracy of the second Rex's fan site.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Adventures on Telly: Part III" when the gang are roaming through space, wary of a nearby black-hole, they pass a sign which Bob claims to say "You are now entering a black hole, please drive safely" to which Wendy argues that it says, "All dogs must wear a leash". Pausing the screen for the split second on which the sign is on screen will show that it actually reads "Neither of those two".
- Funny Background Event: Watch Vince through any scene. Also, when the siren goes off in the bank in "Adventures on Telly: Part I", the actors in the background are running around, screaming.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: In an attempt to cure Vince's Random Pavarotti Disease, the other dogs voyage into his head in a shrunken submarine. They eventually find his tuning knob and retune him to BBC Radio 4, preferring the Shipping Forecast and Gardeners' Question Time to his singing.
- Inept Talent Show Contestant: Episode 9 features Stinky Basil's "Search for a Star" talent contest, and most of the acts are predictably pretty dire. They include an armpit-fart-noise-making Elvis Impersonator, Constable Funnyname forgetting the jokes for his standup routine, and a bespectacled dog singing "Kumbaya" while rhythmically beating his partner in the head with a tin tray. The gang's act, however, is good enough to get them into the final.
- Interspecies Romance: In one episode, Vince courts, marries and has a child with... a hoover.
- Laugh Track: Played with in the opening to one episode, where the characters are playing their own roles as if in a cheap sitcom, complete with bad acting, a Visible Boom Mic, and very obviously canned laughter.
- Let's Meet the Meat:
- The talking mash-up of food from "Adventures on Telly: Part I", which promptly gets devoured by Vince. Also, Johnny Saveloy the talking sausage who appears in the episodes "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing", where he brainwashes Wendy into the Church of Chemicalology, and "The City Shrinkers", where he is the host of the National Lottery.
- And then there's the episode "Carbonara", where Rex goes through a meat grinder, becomes a mobile pile of 'spaghetti' and Vince keeps trying to eat him with a knife and fork.
- Mad Eye: One of Vince's eyes is larger than the other.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Dogg has shades of this in the episodes "Slim Bob" and "The Plasticine Gene".
- Medium Awareness: The fact that the characters are made of plasticine is frequently played with; for example, when Wendy is put on trial for shooting Vince in the face, a key point of her defense is that Vince is made of plasticine and can simply be molded back into shape.
- Neologizer: Stanley Unwin is well-known for his routines of making up almost-English words ("Unwinese" he called it), so his guest appearance as Rex's account, Mr. Wangle, is filled with his trademark neologisms.Mr. Wangle: If I were in your shoom, I'd give it serious thorcus 'bout the time-frame of which a dog of your income might be expected to plan. I'd recommend a radical realignment of your priorities, giving reappraisal of your affairs especialow, in the self-assess requiremould.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The titular Johnny Saveloy of "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing!" seems like a swipe at both Cliff Richard and (rather uncomfortably in hindsight) Jimmy Savile.
- Not to mention celebrity Scientologists such as John Travolta.
- Only Sane Man: Rex, the straight dog of the group, is regularly driven to fuming exasperation by his oddball friends, though Wendy can be this at times as well.
- Phrase Catcher: "Shut it, Vince."
- Police Are Useless: Constable Funnyname, the local policeman who appears in the episodes "Stinky's Search For a Star", "The Trials of Wendy" and "Bob Joins a Gang".
- The Scream: Rex does this in "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing" when his accountant reveals he's bankrupt.
- Subverted Kids Show: Lampshaded on the DVD's box cover: "Tho' you may need your kids to explain the rude jokes, they're still rude. So be advised."
- Surreal Humour: This series' bread and butter.
- Time Machine: Bad Bob built a "gobackintimeatron" from a can of baked beans with a propeller on top in order to go back in time to before the gang's house from being stolen in the episode "Too Many Dogs" and to go forward in time to get the winning lottery numbers in the episode "The City Shrinkers". It was previously used as a space ship to rescue Rex from the aliens from the Planet Thribb in the episode "Easter Island".
- Trigger Happy: Bad Bob. He is mad about guns, as demonstrated in the episode "The Trials of Wendy".
- Unconventional Smoothie: With no other food in the house, the gang throw whatever stale scraps they can find into a blender. The resulting smoothie is actually sentient (though that doesn't stop Vince from eating it whole).
- Unrealistic Black Hole: Played for laughs. After being sucked through a psychedelic black hole, the dogs find themselves in a cafeteria, called "The Black Hole", attended by a one-eyed alien janitor (who also happens to be one of Rex's old school teachers). She calls them a taxi to get them home again.
- Verbal Tic: Vince often has a habit of copying what others have said, which Bad Bob finds really annoying.
- Who Needs Their Whole Body?: Bad Bob manages to move around and talk just fine after selling his entire body, leaving him just a floating mouth, eye and eyepatch. Similarly, the gang seem to manage just fine even when their bodies have accidentally been turned into spaghetti.
- X-Ray Sparks: Happens to both Bad Bob and Johnny Saveloy when Bob tries to repair his eternal youth machine by shorting two electrical cables together. Bob is unharmed, but the results for Johnny Saveloy are rather more permanent.