Rocko's Modern Life — The Complete Series

Rocko's Modern Life — The Complete Series
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An underappreciated show that often gets lost in the shuffle of the '90s animation boom, Rocko's Modern Life achieved the rare feat of seamlessly blending children's sensibilities with a razor-sharp adult edge. This generously allowed the silly antics and broad comic personalities of the characters to mingle inside storylines loaded with potent satire and commentary. Rocko is a mild-mannered Australian wallaby living in O-Town, a rural American community not immune to the indulgences and excesses of the country's culture. His fellow friends and townspeople are mainly anthropomorphic animals as well, including bovine Heffer, terribly neurotic turtle Filburt and his next-door neighbours, Ed and Bev Bighead, two overbearing toads. Only his loyal mutt, Spunky, is stuck with the usual animal limitation of not being able to speak. The episodes in the show's run are wonderfully diverse and frequently surprising, unafraid to explore social, political and even environmental issues while pushing the envelope with its humour in ways that were certainly unprecedented for Nickelodeon, at the time. Where Rocko separated itself from the likes of The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-head was in the sheer inventiveness of the animation, which was dazzling in its ability to generate laughs from frequently bringing inanimate objects to life. The approach created ingenious scenes of Rocko comforting his vacuum cleaner as it wheezes its last breath or, in one memorable episode, finds him engaging in a frank discussion with his inflamed appendix. While many animated comedies are content to keep plodding away long after their best years are behind them, Rocko deserves praise for retaining a uniform level of superlative quality over its four-year run, despite creator Joe Murray handing the reins for the final season over to Stephen Hillenburg (who would then later develop Spongebob Squarepants for Nickelodeon). The bonus material may not be as plentiful as some fans would have hoped after waiting this long for a DVD release, but there's a great deal of insight to be gleaned from what's been included. Naturally, Murray is the preeminent voice behind it all, offering a brief tutorial on how to draw all of the main characters and discussing the show's third season in-depth, which he calls his favourite. The finest supplemental offering is a script read of an episode that was recorded in front of a live audience with all of the voice talent in attendance. It's here that we witness how unsung heroes like Tom Kenny (who is the voice of SpongeBob), Carlos Alazraqui and Charlie Adler put their invaluable stamp on the material. (Shout! Factory)