Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Rocko's Modern Life

When it comes to discussing about our favorite Nicktoons, we always assume the classics: Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Doug, etc. But for some reason, not a lot of people bring up the 1993 Nicktoon simply known as Rocko's Modern Life. People always claim it as a Ren and Stimpy clone, which is true. But then again, there were a lot of Ren and Stimpy clones at the time such as Two Stupid Dogs, Aaahh! Real Monsters, and Cow and Chicken. Some of those shows have been pretty good, while others are just really bad. Rocko's Modern Life was one of those good ones.

The show was about a wallaby from Australia named Rocko (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) who moves into O-Town with his dumb, but lovable dog named Spunky. He gets a job at a comic book store, does his everyday routines like doing his laundry, doing house chores, and hanging out with his best friends Heffer Wolfe and Filburt Turtle.

Heffer Wolfe (voiced by Tom Kenny) is a fat, lazy steer who loves to watch TV, eat Pastry Puffies, and gets Rocko in the funniest scenarios.

Filburt Turtle (voiced by Mr. Lawrence) is a nerdy, neurotic turtle who has many phobias, has had many jobs, and says his catchphrase "I'm nauseous" whenever he gets nervous.

Ed Bighead (voiced by Charlie Adler) is Rocko's next door neighbor. He works at the Conglom-O Corporation, the largest company in O-Town. He has a really mean temper, hates Rocko and his friends, and loves his wife although he doesn't show it.

Bev Bighead (voiced by Charlie Adler) is Ed's wife. She's an independent woman who isn't afraid to tell Ed off whenever he's mean to Rocko and his friends. She's a nice, friendly person who sometimes likes to get in crazy situations. In one episode, she adopts a mean, crazy dog from a testing lab.

There's another character that played a huge part in the show: Dr. Hutchinson (voiced by Linda Wallem) was a dentist who was going out with Filburt. She had a quirky personality with a hook for a hand use to check for teeth.

Throughout the show, these four voice actors provided the voice of all the characters in the show. Carlos Alazraqui also voiced Spunky, Leon Chameleon, and Squirmy the Ringworm. Tom Kenny also voiced Chuck Chameleon, Mr. Smitty, Really Really Big Man, Bloaty Tick, and did Rocko and Filburt's singing voice. Mr. Lawrence also voiced Peter Wolfe and Shelburt Turtle. Charlie Adler also voiced Gladys the Hippo Lady, Mr. Dupette, George Wolfe, Mr. and Mrs. Fathead, and Grandpa Wolfe. Linda Wallem voiced all the other female characters: Virginia Wolfe, Tammy the Pig, Cindy Wolfe, and Karen Chicken.

What made the show different from any other show at the time was the sexual adult innuendos and references. There were so many references that I can't believe they got away with. In one episode, Rocko tells everyone that he likes rainbows which comes across as a homosexual reference.

In one episode, Rocko goes off to his uncle's ranch taking Heffer with him. Heffer is told to sleep in the barn along with the other steer. In the morning, the uncle puts in a device on Heffer to milk him thinking he was one of the cows. It felt so good to Heffer that instead of sucking out milk, it was sucking out cum. This scene was banned from TV and on the DVDs.

In one episode, Rocko and Heffer take a road trip to see a landmark that's about to be demolished. Along the way, they check into a motel that is actually has prostitutes in there. This scene was only shown one time before being banned from the episode.

In one episode, Rocko was fired from his job and is looking for another one. He tries out being a phone voice operator. It turned out to be for a sex hotline.

There were so many innuendos thrown into the show as well. First off, the restaurant that they hang out at is called The Chokey Chicken, which is a reference for masturbation. They changed the name to the Chewy Chicken in the second season. There was a nudist party that Heffer threw. There was an episode in which Bev Bighead tries to seduce Rocko after not getting enough attention from Ed. There are so much to discuss about, but I think you get the point.

When the show came out, many reviews were positive. However, many of them claimed that it was a Ren and Stimpy clone and a Simpsons clone. However, years later, it had gained a wider audience and became a cult classic. Joe Murray, the creator of Rocko's Modern Life, said this about the show.

"I think what set the [1990's] apart was the fact that the climate was ripe for people taking chances and doing different things. Both Nick and Cartoon Network were able to invest on people who had nothing to lose. Of course, the result of that was that there was a big explosion in the scene. There were big successes—like that yellow sponge that popped up in a big way—and with that success came another era where people aren’t apt to take as many chances because the stakes are too high."

The people who had worked on Rocko's Modern Life had gone on to do another successful Nickelodeon show SpongeBob SquarePants. Stephen Hillenberg, who was the producer and written episodes of Rocko's Modern Life created SpongeBob. Tom Kenny who voiced Heffer voiced SpongeBob, Mr. Lawrence who voiced Filburt voiced Plankton. 

When Joe Murray did Camp Lazlo, most of the voice actors, writers, and artists from Rocko's Modern Life assisted him in the show. 

Also Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, who had worked on Rocko's Modern Life, created a show together called Phineas and Ferb. 

I would highly recommend watching Rocko's Modern Life. It's such a hilarious cartoon that has held up so well and is still enjoyable to watch.

That's all for now. Hope to see you at Old School Lane soon.


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