Rocko’s Modern Life (Nickelodeon, 1993-1996)
In the 90s the children’s channels Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon produced a lot of wonderfully odd cartoons, including Cow And Chicken, The Ren And Stimpy Show, Space Ghost Coast To Coast, and one of my favourites, Rocko’s Modern Life.
I was watching the show again recently, and it is still very enjoyable and makes me laugh, I particularly like the opening title sequence. Rocko is a wallaby who was born in Australia, who in his teenage years goes to live in America and gets something of a culture shock. I still enjoy the part when Rocko is given his loud blue shirt to wear and he says “heh-heh, good as new!”. He is then sent to a place called O-Town where he now lives and makes a lot of new friends including Heffer the bull, Filburt the turtle, and his faithful dog Spunky, he also has a job working in a comic shop, and likes to relax by using a jackhammer. There are no human characters in the show. The opening theme was also great too and from the second series onwards a re-recorded version by the B52s was used.
Rocko has some trouble adjusting to his new world, and when he gets particularly annoyed his brain falls out of his head, which is rather strange. Unsurprisingly, I particularly liked the episode where Heffer was a contestant on a game show. I also like the use of silly sound effects, with appropriate plop and squelch noises added in to add to the oddness. As Heffer would say himself, “that was a hoot!”.
Rocko’s Modern Life ran for four series and there were a lot of creatively odd plots, daft moments and crazy characters. The show was created by Joe Murray and Rocko was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, with Heffer being voiced by Tom Kenny, who went on to be the voice of none other than the mighty SpongeBob SquarePants. That show’s creator Stephen Hillenburg also wrote and directed a few episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life so it seems that Rocko is a distant relative of SpongeBob.
The dates at the start of the piece reflect when Rocko’s Modern Life was shown in America. As far as I know it was never shown on CBBC or CITV and presumably it was shown on the British equivalent of the Nickelodeon channel. I always remember watching it though on Channel 4, where the scheduling was rather curious. It seems that the earliest episodes were shown in 1994 in a primetime slot at 6:30, where Hollyoaks is now shown which is something of a surprise. However, later episodes were shown in the more traditional Sunday morning slot where lots of other cartoons turned up. Indeed, such was my dedication to always trying to watch Rocko’s Modern Life that it almost ruined my entire education. I remember I got up so early to watch an episode one Sunday that I was so tired afterwards I needed a few days off school to catch up on sleep. So thanks to Rocko and co. for that!