Good morning, everyone. Ih ope you all had a great Easter weekend. I stayed pretty busy working on stuff for this week’s brand new editions of Reel Reviews. Tomorrow, we’ve got a treat from the Reel Reviews music department for all the classic rock fans. And then Wednesday and Thursday, we’ve got a little something special for the fans of the original Dark Shadows daytime drama. And Friday, it’s been a while since I’ve offered up a new book review. Well that’s just what we’ve got Friday morning in Reel Reviews. So stay tuned for all that. In the meantime, today we have a review of another classic Nicktoon thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon. This morning, last week’s Nicktoons week extends just a little more with a review of Season One of Rocko’s Modern Life. That’s in this edition of Reel Reviews!
Rocko’s Modern Life is one of the greatest of the original Nicktoons. The show ran from 1993 to 1996. In that time, it ran a total of four seasons. From the first to the last, every season had more than its share of great episodes. And now, thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans can relive the show’s first two seasons so far. This morning, we’ll take a look back at the inaugural season of Rocko’s Modern Life. Season one sees Rocko face the consequences of using plastic in “Who Gives a Buck.” Also included in Season One, Rocko and Heffer go to a gym to try and get in shape. But nothing goes as planned, leading to an ending that’ll make any audience smiling. One of the most interesting aspects of Season One is that this double disc set comes complete with what is perhaps the show’s most controversial short in “Leap Frogs.”
While “Leap Frogs” is likely the most controversial short in the show’s four season run, it has plenty of other great shorts. One of those great shorts is “Who Gives a Buck.” In this short, Rocko’s house is in dire need of repair. But as most audiences then and now can relate, affording it is extremely difficult. So what does Rocko do? He breaks down and gets a credit card. At first it’s only to buy a new doggie bowl for his dog, Spunky. But then, things get out of hand, and Rocko goes on a spending spree. As soon as Rocko gets back home, the collection calls start. And by the time he gets up the next morning, his stuff has been repoed. Of course it’s not all bad. In the end, Rocko’s friend, Heffer, has sold one of his stomachs to buy Spunky the dog bowl that he wanted. Audiences both young and old can relate to this episode. It’s yet another episode that exemplifies what made the 90’s Nicktoons so great. It had heart. Sure it entertained. But it also taught a valueable lesson. That messon might not have been intentional. But it was there. For that, it should be commended.
Another episode to which audiences can really relate in Rocko’s Modern Life Season One is “No Pain, No Gain.” This time out, Rocko and Heffer decide to join a gym to try and get healthy. There’s even a Richard Simmons-esque character who leads one of the gym’s exercise classes. The thing is that the gym they choose turns out to serve, and be staffed by, rather stuffy, stuck up individuals. What person hasn’t experienced this in trying to find a fitness center that’s right for them? Rocko and Heffer are judged at each point by a pair of overly stuffy, judgemental staff members. They follow Rocko and Heffer and dock them points at every corner. Movie buffs will love the classic movie references when Rocko and Heffer try their hand at the rowing machines. Choices for difficulty include the likes of “Deliverance”, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, and more. When it’s all said and done, the staff members decide that Rocko can stay, despite having lost so many points. But Heffer has to go. Forced to make a decision, Rocko opts to leave with Heffer. This isn’t the first time that a sitcom has ever used this sort of plot. But even in the case of Rocko’s Modern Life, it’s still a funny episode with more than enough heart to make it a classic episode.
Speaking of classics, perhaps one of the most classic episodes of any of the four seasons from Rocko’s Modern Life is also one of the most controversial. That episode is “Leap Frogs.” “Leap Frogs” is essentially a spoof of Dustin Hoffman’s 1967 hit, “The Graduate.” The difference between the two is that in “Leap Frogs”, Mr. Bighead is Rocko’s neighbor rather than his boss. The very fact that this short would even attempt to take on such an adult concept is what makes it so controversial. But in the show’s defense, this short has really toned down the original story of The Graduate. Given it’s still kind of edgy in comparison to other cartoons of its time. But it’s still funny in its own right. One look at fellow 90’s Nicktoon, The Ren & Stimpy Show shows that by comparison, this single episode of this classic Nicktoon was really not that bad.
Whether for this episode, the other two mentioned here, or any of the others in this hilarious debut season of Rocko’s Modern Life, this two-disc set is an absolute must for any true classic 90’s Nicktoons Nostalgic. There was no show like it on television when it aired. And while some of today’s cartoons may try, none have managed to recreate the charm and comedy presented here. Thanks to Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon, fans will be able to re-live every hilarious joke and reference any time they want. They can also now pass it on to another generation that will hopefully enjoy it just as much as the generation that originally found so many laughs when it originally aired on Nickelodeon as part of the network’s greatest era.