This week's theme is actually the amalgamation of two shows. Rocky and His Friends ran from 1959 to 1961 on ABC but was moved to NBC in 1961 and renamed The Bullwinkle Show due to Bullwinkle's obvious popularity at the time. The show was cancelled in 1964 but moved back to ABC until 1974 when it moved into syndication. The syndicated title of the show changed to The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show and covered the two seasons of Rocky and the three seasons of Bullwinkle.
Rocket J. Squirrel (Rocky) and Bullwinkle J. Moose live in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Bullwinkle is a dim-witted moose that always seems to get into trouble that send him and Rocky around the world. Whether they are trying to located a hidden mine of Upsidasium or saving the world from the Metal Moon Men, the pair always save the day thanks to Rocky's smart thinking and Bullwinkle's lucky accidents.
The two baddies, called Nogoodniks, are Boris Badanov and Natasha Fatale. From the rival town of Pottsylvania, they are always given a mission from Fearless Leader to stop the moose and squirrel from interfering with their plans.
Each episode began and ended with a five-minute R&B segments that always ended in a cliff-hanger to be resolved in the following episode. Sandwiched in between the R&B shorts were five-minute episodes of Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley Do-Right, Aesop and Son and Peabody and Sherman's Improbable History.
This show worked on so many levels. It had the goofy characters and slap-stick humour for the kids and intelligent writing and topical humour for the adults. My favourite part of the show the amount of puns that would be crammed in each episode.
Rocky and Bullwinkle was created by Jay Ward Studios who had just met popularity with its previous show, Crusader Rabbit. Due to extremely limited funding, all the animation was farmed out to a studio in Mexico where workers worked for pennies and produced obvious results. Animation was sloppy, colours changed, mustaches would disappear and because of tight schedules many of these mistakes would never be caught until Jay Ward saw them on the air. Farming animation over-seas is common place today but it should be know that Jay Ward Studios was the first to do it.
Where the animation was lacking the show made up in writting. The writing staff prided themselves on the clever stories and jokes, many of them trying to recreated the old radio-serial style comedies.
The first three seasons of Rocky and Bullwinkle are out on DVD and I recommend watching it if you haven't yet. It is a great look back to the Golden Age of television animation.