Two views of "Rocky and Bullwinkle," the TV cartoon series now being released on videocassette by Disney's Buena Vista Home Video:
- "Do you know what a bomb is?" said Frostbite Fall's favorite son Rocket J. Squirrel one day to his pal Bullwinkle J. Moose.Replied Bullwinkle: "A bomb is what some people call our show."
But the endearing Bullwinkle couldn't have been more off-base, because the Rocky and Bullwinkle show was one of the most popular TV cartoon series ever. It premiered as "Rocky and His Friends" on ABC in 1959. It moved to prime time on NBC in 1961-62 as "The Bullwinkle Show" and had another run in 1962-64. The last network appearance, in reruns, was in 1982.
Now Buena Vista Home Video is debuting six 45-minute videocassettes of the wonderful animated TV show. Retailing for $12.99 each, they feature a full-length serial plus episodes of "The Adventures of Dudley Doright," a righteous Mountie who battled the evil Snidley Whiplash; "Aesop and Son," which recounted fables in weird ways; "Peabody's Improbable History," in which a bespectacled professorial dog named Mr. Peabody traveled through time with his adopted son, Sherman, in the Wayback Machine; and "Fractured Fairy Tales," little snippets deliciously narrated by the late Edward Everett Horton. (What did Goldilocks REALLY do in that house??)
Whether they were hunting for the elusive Kerwood Derby (which turns its wearer into the world's smartest person) or solving the mystery of the counterfeit box tops, Bullwinkle and Rocky always found themselves in comical cliffhanging conundrums.
The irreverent satire and painfully bad puns perpetrated by Jay Ward's cartoon creatures may have gone over the heads of most kids who watched the show, but the preposterous situations kept them glued to their sets.
All the episodes tumbled with throwaway jokes and hokey gags.
Bravo Buena Vista for a wonderful video gift. - Dolores Barclay (Associated Press)
Even a critic can sometimes feel out of the loop. Consider "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," the cult favorite '60s cartoon series that makes its debut on home video in six 40-minute installments priced at $12.99 each.
From the moment Buena Vista Home Video announced plans to release the cartoon, fans of "Moose and Squirrel," Boris, Natasha, Dudley Doright and Sweet Nell have had a glazed-over look of great expectation in their eyes. As a child, I thought Bullwinkle was the most insipid cartoon ever to grace network TV, and, quite frankly, having had my memory refreshed as an adult, the series still ranks barely a notch above animated roadkill.
But to many others, Bullwinkle was and is cutting-edge satire; that what I took for lame jokes and feeble animation is in fact sophisticated, adult-oriented humor. It's really a matter of perception, and far be it from me to question the sanity, taste and fiscal responsibility of those willing to shell out even a buck for this stuff.