My wife Sarah is not a normal bird, I have deeply accepted this. To be honest, if she was anything resembling normal, I probably would not be madly in love with her. But with her quirky ways, I am to a point where I know her likes and dislikes. Every once in a while, she does throw me off, especially when it comes to which cartoons she likes to watch. One of her favorite cartoons that she likes to watch goes by the name of Rocko’s Modern Life. It just so happens that today’s review goes over the second season. Let us see what it has to offer.
Since this site was not able to review the first season (which is only eleven and a half bucks at Amazon currently), I figured I would go over the characters and the show’s premise before diving into a few episodes. There are basically 3 major characters, 2 large supporting characters and then a whole boatload of characters that show up here and there.
The first and most obvious character is Rocko. He is a young wallaby who has come from Australia. He is a good natured animal and has a dog named Spunky (who eats just about everything). His best friend is Heffer Wolfe, a happy go-lucky steer. Heff eats a lot and loves to party. Filbert Turtle is Rocko’s other best friend who can be best described as how Woody Allen would act if he were turned into a turtle. These three represent the meat of most of the stories.
The two dominating supporting characters would have to be Ed and Bev Bighead. They are both toads and Ed usually represents the antagonist of the show. Bev actually likes the three main characters contrary to her husband. She also has a wild side and trys to tempt Rocko into having an affair, which never works. Think of her voice like a New York chain smoker on two packs a day. Without further adieu, let us explore a few of the episodes.
Disc One starts out with a full half hour episode entitled I Have No Son. The breakdown is that we find out that Ed Bighead has a son who has run off to be famous as a cartoonist and shun the family job of being a big corporate executive. Bev eventually convinces Rocko to go to their son and tell him to come to their wedding anniversary party. So Rocko grabs Filburt (who is a big fan of the son’s cartoon) and off they go in what is arguably one of the best episodes of season two.
More conventional cartoons appear on the first disc with Pipe Dreams where Heff clogs a toilet and eventually Rocko and Heff try to fix the toilet themselves only to find something that they had forgot about a long time ago as the cause. In Tickled Pinky, Rocko is about to have his appendix removed and as a result he starts having all sorts of hallucinations that his appendix can talk and move around just like he can.
Rounding out the first disc, we also see a Christmas Special which runs as a half hour cartoon. Moving on to the second disc, we get some interest episodes such as Gutter Balls where Ed Bighead entices Rocko, Heff and Filburt to make a bowling team called “The Losers” to play against his team of ladies for the championship. Junk Junkies has a scenario where Rocko needs to pay off the pizza man and he organizes a garage sale to do so.
I think my favorite episode was perhaps Day of the Flecko where Rocko is forced to work an insane amount of overtime at his job. Therefore, he comes home to sleep it off and unfortunately a housefly named Flecko is just starting his day and annoys Rocko to the point of insanity. Eventually, he goes bonkers and mass hysteria follows. The show had lots of racy humor coupled with endearing characters make this show a complete delight to watch.
That was the thing perhaps about Rocko’s Modern Life that stood out for its entire run. It was never afraid to push the envelope, something that was not commonplace for Nickelodeon. It eventually led them to censor certain episodes and trash other episodes all together. Sure, there were plenty of other cartoons that pushed the envelope but Rocko’s Modern Life seem to do it so innocently when somebody’s back was turned. Perhaps that what caught Nickelodeon by surprise is because they did not expect it.
The video is in 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. Rocko ran during the mid nineties when animation was decent but far from the awesomeness that is today. Backgrounds tend to be fairly plain while the main action on the canvas is brightly colored and upbeat. The major attraction is the amount of characters that this show has and how they are brought to life. Shout Factory did a good job here in bringing this series to disc.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track in English. The audio track does not fare as well as the video. Audio dropout is occasionally a problem and the volume knob has to take a few turns to get up to listening levels. Dialog is pretty good once you get there and there should be no problems with the accent and unique voices of the various characters. No subtitles could be found.
- ”Trash-O-Madness” Original Pilot Version 8:19: The pilot episode, “Trash-O-Madness” in its original form with Joe Murray doing half of the animation and his staff take care of the rest. The episode is basically about Rocko finding out that the trashman is almost around the corner and he has to get out the trash before they leave. The animation is a little choppy but this is a great look into how it all got started.
- Behind the Characters with Joe Murray 16:11: This is a fantastic feature. Joe Murray joins us for four webisodes where he draws the four main characters, Rocko, Heff, Filburt, and the Bigheads on a digital sketch pad and talks about how he came to create the various characters. He also talks about censorship and how they might or might not include the episode Leapfrogs in the dvd releases. I don’t have season 1, but I believe they did which is welcome news. This is a good how to draw in my opinion for moderate to advanced artists. For beginners, they skip quite a few steps.
Rocko’s Modern Life lasted fifty two episodes and four seasons. It had a very large adult following due to the racy humor and hilarious innuendos. I am not sure I liked it as much as my wife did but I found it very funny. The video and audio is representative of most television animation broadcasts from this time. The extras are pure quality and I hope Shout Factory does more of them as these releases continue. Easy recommendation of quality animation. Enjoy!
I Have No Son
Pipe Dreams/Tickled Pinky
The Lounge Singer/She’s The Toad
Down the Hatch/Road Rash
Boob Tubed/Commuted Sentence
Rocko’s Modern Christmas
Hut,Sut,Raw / Kiss Me I’m Foreign
Born to Spawn/Uniform Behavior
Hair Licked/Gutter Balls
Junk Junkies/Day of the Flecko
Snowballs/Frog’s Best Friend
Short Story/Eyes Capades