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I watched this all the time as a kid (reruns of course, I'm getting
old, but I'm not THAT old) I loved laughing at Bullwinkle and his
trusty friend Rocky, always wondering what would happen next. I got a
kick out of the fractured Fairy Tales as well. But I think my favorite
part of the show would have to be the Mr. Peabody segments. Even as a
kid I loved anything to do with time travel so Peabody and Sherman's
adventures in the Way-back machine thrilled me to no end. I'm so glad
that the episodes are now on DVD so I can introduce my niece to them
and not subject her to the awfully lame brain-rotting cartoons of
My Grade: B+
Huge irony, as animation (aided by computers) is being re-discovered in the present, that the highest compliment one can pay to an animated feature in our current age is to say that "the market is kids, but adults will find things in the script to enjoy also." Folks, here is big revelation. That trick is not new. In fact, the producers of this ground-breaking series, Jay Ward and Bill Scott, not only invented that approach, they virtually patented it. The segments, especially the poetry, fractured fairy tales, and trips back in history, had puns within puns within puns. And, of course, puns only work if you already know the answer, so in effect this series was written by adults, for adults, and, in order to bring home a paycheck, I am sure these guys had to console themselves with the inevitable truth that the vast majority of their audience would, unfortunately, be children. (But, through the magic of DVD, streaming video and God-knows-what-new-media will arrive in the decades to come, adults can finally get a chance to match wits with the writers of this half-century old show.) And the casting? William Conrad was a "force" in Hollywood in those days, directing behind the scenes, doing voice-overs, and ultimately had his own show (Cannon). Horton had one of the most distinctive voices in the history of TV, with a pitch un-matched even to the present. And Hans Conried actually appeared on talk shows of the era to show how many different voices he could do. Even the intros to the commercials were unique and ahead of their time -- "SAY ROCKY WATCH ME PULL A RABBIT OUT OF A HAT!" Defines the word "classic."
Rocky and Bullwinkle is "Must See TV" today as it was for me when I was
four years old. Back then, the story lines went over my head, but the
star characters were so strong, their personalities so vivid that they
have stood the test of time while many of their contemporaries and
those that followed have languished in obscurity.
Looking back at the very onset of the show with the Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle DVD set, the show seemed to attempt to find itself both from a story nature and the art (Rocky's appearance changes quite drastically between episodes seven and eight of the "Rocket Fuel" serial and again between episodes five and six of "Box Top Robbery"), but once the show found itself deservedly attracting a grown-up audience, the story writers let it all hang out. Pop culture wasn't the target of the show, it was culture of all persuasions. It came fast and furious and that's what made the show so funny. Consider the following from the "Treasure Of Monte Zoom" serial, when Boris Badenov sets fire to a bridge:
Bullwinkle: "This is an ethical dilemma fraught with portents!"
Rocky: "What does that mean?"
Bullwinkle: "I dunno...I heard it on 'Meet The Press'."
Rocky and Bullwinkle has shown that brilliant writing and terrific heroic characters can offset the low-budget animation, and that heroes that can thrill us and make us laugh will have a spot in our hearts for life.
As a kid, I wasn't a big fan of the Saturday morning kid shows, even
though I was a TV addict. But then I discovered "Rocky and His
Friends". What a difference! Clever, witty plots and dialog - even the
episode titles were hilarious. Then some network executive with brains
and imagination (a rare breed) apparently noticed that some of the
jokes were going over the heads of the kids, and adults would enjoy
them more. Theshow moved to a different network and to a Sunday evening
time slot, so the whole family could watch. The format changed
slightly, and the title became "The Bullwinkle Show." But the wit
remained, and the show became a long-running success.
Now, more than four decades later, the show has held up very well. It is still funny, still full of surprises. And the humor is still far above the level of most of the comedy shows on TV (live or animated).
As a teenager, I thought I understood the humor in the name of the villain Boris Badinov (bad enough, get it?) It took me another fifteen years to realize that it is also a pun on the name of the Russian opera Boris Gudinov. I wonder how long it will take before I get ALL the plays on words in all the episodes.
By the way, fans of this show should look out for "Sheep in the Big City", which, though by no means a copy, is obviously inspired by Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Long before Bart, Homer and the rest of the Simpsons came along; this show revolutionized animated cartoons and showed that cartoons could not only be entertaining, but could also provide a great deal of social satire. This was definitely the crowning achievement of Jay Ward and his troop of actors and writers. This also was the first cartoon series that could appeal to both adults and children. It appealed to children because its two titular stars were a couple of fuzzy animals and the adults were able to get into it because of the fact that it provided a great deal of social and political satire that they could relate to, especially in the dark days of the Cold War. Also, the supporting features (Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales and Aesop and Son) all helped make this one of the most entertaining and influential cartoon series ever.
Who would have ever thought, when this show came out, in 1959, that between
this cartoon, and its successor, The Bullwinkle Show, that these cartoon
characters would have five years of episodes?......kind of modelled in the
old radio episodic format, I would say.
I wonder if Jay Ward would have also been surprised that his creation had lasted that long. He had done Crusader Rabbit, back in 1949---TV's first animated show ever----but certainly that cartoon could not hold a candle to this one.
From what I have read, there were no other cartoon TV series, up until this point, which had lasted 5 years (shortly AFTER this series began, The Flintstones ran 6 years---1960-1966). After Rocky, Bullwinkle (and Hanna Barbera's Flinstones) I think that it was EXTREMELY RARE that any animated series lasted 5 or more years......Until The Simpsons came along!.....
The story that I have read, as to why Jay Ward switched the name, from Rocky and His Friends, to The Bullwinkle Show, is very simple. In 1961 the show switched networks. The new station would only pick the series up if Ward renamed it The Bullwinkle Show (for what reason, I will never know). The rest is history......
I also love The Bullwinkle Show as well as the superb Rocky and His Friends. The animation is some primitive moments but also a number of appealing ones too. The story lines may go over the heads of some younger viewers, but I always found them entertaining and interesting, especially the Peabody segments. The characters are incredibly strong with some of the most vivid personalities of any cartoon characters in the history of cartoons, and the writing has such a smart and subtle satirical edge. The voice work, with veteran June Foray among the most notable, is excellent. All in all, a revolutionary cartoon yet proves itself to be much more than that. With such great characters and outstanding writing, Rocky and His Friends is one of the best animated shows I've seen. 10/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
[MAY BE SPOILERS]
In 1959, two fellows, Jay Ward and Bill Scott put together the very first animated television show. It starred Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. What the 'J' stood for, we'll never know. Rocky and Bullwinkle got into all sorts of trouble, like the time they were asked by the government to create rocket fuel, because Bullwinkle's grandmother's cake recipe acted as rocket fuel. One key ingredient was a mooseberry bush so Rocky and Bullwinkle travel all over creation looking for one. Unfortunately two spies from Pottsylvania try and complicate things. They are Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. This adventure took 40 parts to complete! Wowee! And did you notice that Boris' appearance changed in the first few episodes? In the beginning he was taller and had purple eyes. Gradually, he shrunk and his eyes turned white. Rocky's appearance has changed somewhat. In the beginning, his eyes were bigger and his goggles were flat, square holes where has now they're protruding and round. Each episode would end in a major cliffhanger and the narrator would encourage us to join them next time.
Other stars of the show were Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman who took trips through time courtesy of the Way Back Machine. They meet such famous people as Ben Franklin, Napoleon, P.T. Barnum, Cleopatra, Sir Walter Raleigh, etc., and help them in their many perils. Also, we get to see fairy tales Jay Ward style. Such as Snow White and the political dwarves or a conniving puss'n boots and what have you. Also, we'd get to see an adventure with Dudley Do-Right, the world's most inept Canadian Mounted Policeman. He'd always be out to stop Snidely Whiplash in his everlasting plot to rid the world of Dudley and marry Nell, the inspector's daughter who was in love with Dudley's horse; Rocky and Bullwinkle would also appear in segments like "Bullwinkle's Corner" and "Mr. Know-It-All"; Bill Scott voiced Bullwinkle and Mr. Peabody and Dudley Do-Right; June Foray voiced Rocky, Natasha and Nell; Paul Frees voiced Boris, Inspector Fenwick, Fearless Leader and an assortment of others; Walter Tetley voiced Sherman; Hans Conried voiced Snidley Whiplash; And William Conrad was our narrator. Edward Everett Horton voiced the Fractured Fairy Tales narrator. Sadly, Jay Ward, Bill Scott, Paul Frees, Walter Tetley, William Conrad, Hans Conried and Edward Everett Horton are no longer with us. June Foray is still alive though. Horton died in 1970, Tetley in 1975, Conried in 1982, Scott in 1985, Frees in 1986, Ward in 1989, and Conrad in 1994. They will be missed. In 1961, the title of the show was changed to "The Bullwinkle Show". Why, I don't know. Just recently the complete first season of R & B came to DVD! All 40 parts of "Jet Fuel Formula" and all 12 parts of "Box Top Robbery". It's cool. Peabody & Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales and Dudley Do-Right are here too. Can't wait for season 2. But anyway, if you can find it, I recommend Rocky and His Friends!
No matter what you call it - "Rocky and His Friends", "The Bullwinkle
Show", "Rocky and Bullwinkle", or something else - you can't deny how
great this show is. A total parody of the Cold War, they hit everything
right on the mark.
Equally as great as the parts where Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose battle the evil-and-proud-of-it Soviet spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, are the Fractured Fairy Tales (narrated by Edward Everett Horton), Mr. Peabody's Improbable History, and Dudley Do-Right. Whether Prince Charming turns Sleeping Beauty into a circus attraction, Galileo needs help with a scientific experiment, or whichever dastardly scheme Snidely Whiplash is plotting, it's one of the greatest shows of all time. The "Simpsons" of its era, if I may say so.
So, June Foray has every reason to be proud of her work on this. I'll always love it. I never saw the 2000 movie, but every review said that it sucked.
Hey, Rocky and Bullwinkle is the best cartoon around. Now, I am a big fan of cartoons and the first time I saw Rocky and Bullwinkle, I had to watch more and more. It is such a corny show, yet, it is so funny to watch. Bullwinkle, lights it up, with his dimwittedness and dumb punch lines. I love the other segments of the show like Aesop and Son, Fractured Fairy Tales and the "infamoose" Dudley DoRight. This is classic, and frankly, I don't think there will be another show quite like it. "Now, here's something you'll really like!" (P.S. the only disappointment of R&B history, if you haven't seen it, I warn you, you'll waste your time and money).
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