I've been a fan of Rocko's Modern Life since I was a kid. I still remember watching this wacky cartoon make its debut on Nick back in the fall of '93 and being totally blown away by it, and shown by my rating, this is one of those rare childhood cartoons that not only has aged well, but has actually gotten better with age!! The only other nostalgic cartoon series off the top of my head that achieved this was Batman: The Animated Series. This is so because when you get older, you can comprehend the hidden "adult" jokes.
LACK OF CENSORSHIP AND UNECESSARY EDITS
I'm glad that RML creator Joe Murray didn't pull any of the nonsense that John Kricfalusi did when Ren and Stimpy were released on DVD (I'm still angry about John K. messing with that show). The episodes on this DVD are almost exactly like you remembered from when you watched them as a kid. The only edit that I can name off the top of my head is the infamous "milking" with Heffer from "The Good, the Bad, and the Wallaby." Other than that, I couldn't notice anything out-of-place.
Rocko's humor is very impressive compared to other cartoons, since it's one of those rare cartoons where there's humor that kids will enjoy, and adult jokes that are very subtle to a child's mind, in that only an adult can spot them. For example, with the Rocko episode "Flu-Inuenza," I loved the episode for the gross visuals fleshing out Rocko's flu in graphic detail and the goofy things he saw when he was sick when I first saw it, but one of the adult jokes that I picked up on as an adult was when Rocko swallows a giant pill prescribed by a crazy doctor, but quickly finds out on the bottle a giant warning not to take it orally, I realized where he was supposed to insert it and I reacted with a giant "Holy s***!" laugh. Even though the following isn't a hidden joke, I'm shocked that in the episode "Carnival Knowledge," there's a ride called the Elevator to Hell, and "Hell" wasn't censored at all. With that said, I'm surprised the episode "Leap Frogs" was made at all, given that it's about Bev Bighead trying to get in bed with Rocko after she feels "inadequate" with Ed Bighead. Let's not forget the favorite fried chicken joint in this show, called "Chokey Chicken." I had no idea what it meant when I was a kid, but when I re-watched this show in my teen years, I totally understood what that meant and got a good "WTF" laugh from it.
The characters in RML are all top notch, in that not only are they wacky, but also relateable to people you'd bump into in real-life. I'm sure at least once in our lives, we've had unpleasant neighbors like Ed Bighead, a cane toad, whom in the show, is hell-bent on making Rocko's life miserable whenever he comes into contact with him (such as trying to get Rocko's house evicted in the episode "Keeping Up with the Bigheads"). My personal favorite character in the show is the turtle named Filburt. Filburt is very much like Woody Allen, except I find Filburt more funny. Filburt is very neurotic and is very easy to anger, and it's a riot to see him and Heffer fight because of the fact that they're polar opposites. Heffer is great as that lazy, freeloading friend we've all had in our lives, as he's such a glutton and is very dimwitted. This is perfectly shown in the episode "Bedfellows," where Heffer is kicked out of his home and takes advantage of Rocko's hospitality, eating all of his food and hogging his bed among other acts of selfishness. Even the minor characters have a positively-memorable impact on the viewers, such as Dr. Hutchison, whose a cat with a hook for a hand with a bright personality whose prone to subtle acts of wackiness. Let's not forget the central character, Rocko. Rocko is perfect in this show because he's portrayed as being the only "normal" character in O-Town (the town he lives in), while everyone else seems weird and crazy. Rocko gets stuck in real-life troubles such as getting stuck at the DMV and fighting to buy groceries during the last minutes of a giant sale, and while his misadventures are humorous, you do feel for him when he gets stuck in a jam. One of Rocko's best moments was his meltdown at Filburt in the episode "Rocko's Happy Sack" when he just missed a 99% off sale at a grocery store, where it seems like life is deliberately working against you in these types of moments.
The animation and artwork for RML is superb. The visuals are very surreal and have a myriad of bright colors, highlighted by heavy use of steep angles with the environment the characters interact with. Murray's signature style of drawing his characters fit the tone and style of the show like a glove, as they look so distorted and brightly-colored. The animation itself is very solid, as the movements the majority of the time are as smooth as silk, and can't recall any animated "hiccups" off the top of my head.
If you love surreal animated humor with hidden adult jokes, then Rocko's Modern Life is mandatory viewing if you missed out on this in the early 90's. If you love Rocko, don't hesitate for one second to buy this DVD set.
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About the reviewer
David Kozak (RabidChihuahua)
I'm a morbid cynic who thinks very, very differently from most other people. Chances are, if the majority says X is the greatest in its category, I'll disagree with that notion, because I tend … more