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Rocko's Modern Life
Rocko's Modern Life Title Card
Genre Comedy
Format Animated Series
Created by Joe Murray
Starring Carlos Alazraqui
Tom Kenny
Mr. Lawrence
Charlie Adler
Linda Wallem
Country of Origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of Seasons 4
No. of Episodes 52 (List of Episodes)
Production
Executive Producer(s) Joe Murray
Vanessa Coffey
Mary Harrington
Running Time 22 minutes (approx.)
Composer(s) Pat Irwin
Production Company(s) Joe Murray Productions
Nickelodeon Productions
Games Animation, Inc.
Broadcast
Original Channel Nickelodeon
First Shown 1993
Original Run September 18, 1993 – November 24, 1996
Status Ended
Wiki
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Rocko's Modern Life Opening (Season 1)00:57

Rocko's Modern Life Opening (Season 1)

Rocko's Modern Life is an American animated series created by Joe Murray that aired for four seasons between 1993 and 1996 on Nickelodeon. Rocko's Modern Life is based around the surreal, parodic adventures of an anthropomorphic, Australian-immigrant wallaby named Rocko, and his new life in the city of O-Town. The show follows his life as well as the lives of his friends: the gluttonous steer Heffer, the neurotic turtle Filburt, and Rocko's faithful dog, Spunky. The show is laden with adult humor, including double entendres, innuendos, and satirical social commentary.

Joe Murray initially created the title character for an unpublished comic book series in the late 1980s, and later reluctantly pitched the series to Nickelodeon, who were looking for edgier cartoonists for their new Nicktoons block. The network gave the staff a large amount of creative freedom, letting the writers target both children and adults. The show's animation stylistically features crooked architecture. In addition, Murray picked many newcomer voice actors, such as Tom Kenny and Carlos Alazraqui, who have gone on to become very successful and popular. The show was the fourth Nicktoon to premiere. Kenny described the show's impact in an interview, saying, "Rocko's Modern Life was just one of those shows that were the first break for a lot of people who went on to do other stuff in the business."[1]

Produced by Games Animation and Joe Murray Productions, the show premiered on September 18, 1993 and ended on November 24, 1996 with reruns airing on Nickelodeon until mid-2000. After the show's completion, much of the staff regrouped to work on SpongeBob SquarePants, created by producer Stephen Hillenburg.

PlotEdit

The plot follows the life of a wallaby, Rocko, who has immigrated to the United States from Australia. In the United States, he is faced with various problems and challenges involving his pals who try to teach him what it means to be a good friend.

CharactersEdit

Rocko (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) — Rocko is a wallaby who emigrated from Australia to the United States, he is the main character and the protagonist of the show. He is 18 years old. He is a sensible, moral, and somewhat timid character who enjoys the simple pleasures in life, such as doing his laundry or feeding his dog, Spunky. He is neat, compassionate, and self-conscious. He wears a blue shirt with purple triangles on it that he has become quite attached to. He doesn't wear any pants. Rocko usually works at "Kind of a Lot o' Comics" (but once worked at Conglom-O where Ed Bighead attempted to make him quit) and his hobbies include recreational jackhammering and pining for the love of his life, Melba Toast. Due to Rocko's benevolence and non-confrontational personality, his kindness is often taken for weakness. He is often taken advantage of by the other characters. Rocko would prefer to live a quiet life, but his reckless friends often throw him into turbulent situations.

Heffer Wolfe (voiced by Tom Kenny) — Heffer is Rocko's best friend and roommate, a happy-go-lucky and not-too-bright steer whom he met in high school. His appearance is basically just a big (bigger than Rocko) yellow bull who wears red dungarees. He has two horns and a green tuft of hair on the top of his head. Heffer is an absolute glutton and loves to eat and party. His favorite food is "Pasture Puffies." Though he is normally portrayed as being jobless, he has worked as a waiter at a coffee shop, a salesman at a tree farm, a greenskeeper at a golf course, a mail carrier, a manager at a Chokey Chicken restaurant (later Chewy Chicken), a paperboy, and a security guard at Conglom-O-Corp, (the last one causing him to go insane in a reference to The Shining). As his family name suggests, he was raised by a family of wolves who decided not to eat him as a child and adopted him as one of their own; his "birthmark" is actually their plotting lines of how to best divide him up into choice dishes. He is often called a "Big fat cow," a term he (and his father) objects to by saying "steer." His catchphrase, which can be heard in the series' opening credits, is "That was a hoot!"

Filburt Turtle (voiced by Mr. Lawrence) — Filburt is Rocko's other best friend, a neurotic, hypochondriac turtle wearing Woody Allen-style glasses. He started out as a different character, usually seen having many jobs, such as a supermarket cashier and a clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles, before being written in the storyline as Rocko and Heffer's friend in the second season. He lives in a trailer and earns his money by collecting cans "here and there", and has a penchant for "sauce". Filburt has an extremely weak stomach and even the slightest wrong movements can give him nausea. He tried to be a dentist but failed in his last exam when he turned one of Rocko's teeth into a Giant Mutant Tooth. He turned 21 in the second season episode "Born to Spawn" where he is called to his home island of Kerplopitgoes in order to become an adult. At one point, he also had a Frank Sinatra style singing voice that he nearly became a star with. He eventually started a family with Dr. Hutchison, a bubbly cat with a hook for a hand. One of their children turned out to bear a strong resemblance to Heffer, thanks to his having sat on their egg during the incubation period.

Spunky (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) — Spunky is Rocko's pet Bull Terrier. He's not too bright and will eat anything on sight, including Mr. Bighead's salmon bushes and a moldy slime found in Rocko's refrigerator. He often repeatedly drools into his water bowl and drinks it, only to drool into it again. He is Rocko's only pet and Rocko loves him dearly. Rocko will go to great lengths to protect Spunky if he is in danger or about to do something stupid. Spunky once fell in love with a mop in the episode "Clean Lovin'", much to Rocko's dismay. Spunky is also the home of two parasites, Bloaty and Squirmy.

Edward Bighead (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Ed Bighead is a toad, and the husband of Bev Bighead, he is the main antagonist of the show. He lives next door to Rocko, whom he vehemently despises and sees as the bane of his existence. Mr. Bighead is aggressive and crass towards most people. Ed works at the large corporation Conglom-O. His position with the company is usually in middle management, but his actual position varies from low level assembly-line worker to an executive role, depending on the needs of the episode: according to his nameplate at Conglom-O, his job title is "Toad". As seen in the episode "Sailing the 7 Zzzs", he is a sleepwalker and has the habit of turning into a pirate while sleepwalking and views ordinary people and things as their pirate equivalents; he believed Rocko was an enemy pirate and proceeded to launch various household objects, such as toasters and bowling balls (cannonballs), at Rocko's house (an enemy pirate ship) from a dryer (a cannon).

Beverly Bighead (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Bev Bighead is Ed Bighead's wife. Bev assumes authority in the Bighead household. Unlike her husband, she enjoys the company of Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt. She is a party animal who enjoys cooking and sunbathing nude. There is evidence that she sees Rocko as more than a neighbor and wants to have an affair with him—as she has tried to seduce Rocko on more than one occasion, resulting in Rocko seeing her nude numerous times. At one point, she took over Ed's job at Conglom-O for a week when Ed took a leave of absence due to a nervous breakdown and ran the company very well. Her favorite bedroom pastime with Ed is to make him crack plates in mid-air with his tongue like clay pigeons.

HistoryEdit

Originally, the character appeared in an unpublished comic book titled Travis. Murray tried selling the comic book in the late 1980s, between illustrating jobs, and did not find success in getting it into production. Many other characters appeared in various sketchbooks. He described the early 1990s animation atmosphere as "ripe for this kind of project. We took some chances that would be hard to do in these current times (the 1990s)".[2] Murray wanted funding for his independent film My Dog Zero, so he wanted Nickelodeon to pre-buy television rights for the series. He presented a pencil test to Nickelodeon, which afterward became interested in buying and financing the show. The industry was coming out of a "rough period" and Murray, who had never worked in the industry before, wanted to "shake things up a bit".[3]

Linda Simensky, then in charge of animation development in Nickelodeon, described the Nicktoons lineup and concept to Murray. He originally felt skepticism towards the concept of creating a Nicktoon as he disliked television cartoons. Simensky told him that Nicktoons differed from other cartoons. He then told her that he believed that My Dog Zero would not work as a cartoon. He then researched Nickelodeon at the library and found that Nickelodeon's "attitude was different than regular TV".[4] The cable network providers were "making their own rules": for example, Murray stated that he "didn't write for children", which the executives were fine with. Murray was unsure at first, but was inspired by independent animation around him, such as Animation Celebration and MTV's Liquid Television, and gave the network a shot. At the time, Nickelodeon was selling itself as a network based as much around edge as around kids' entertainment. It aimed to appeal to college students and parents as much as children.[5]

Murray developed the Rocko character after visiting a zoo in the Bay Area and coming across a wallaby that seemed to be oblivious to the chaos around him.[3] Murray combed through his sketchbooks, developed the Rocko's Modern Life concept, and submitted it to Nickelodeon, believing that the concept would likely be rejected. Murray felt they would not like the pilot, and he would just collect his sum and begin funding his next independent film. According to Murray, around three or four months later he had "forgotten about" the concept and was working on My Dog Zero when Simensky informed him that Nickelodeon wanted a pilot episode. On his website he describes My Dog Zero as "that film that Linda Simensky saw which led me to Rocko.[6] "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic" was originally written as the pilot; the executives decided that Heffer Wolfe, one of the characters, would be "a little too weird for test audiences". Murray, instead of removing Heffer from "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic", decided to write "Trash-O-Madness" as the pilot episode.[4]

In the original series pilot, Rocko was colored yellow. His color was changed when a toy merchandising company informed Nick they were interested in marketing dolls but did not want to market Rocko because "they already had a yellow character". Murray changed Rocko's color to beige, and after the pilot aired, the company opted out of producing toys for the series. When the series was in development prior to the release of the first episode, the series had the title The Rocko Show.

In November 1992, two months prior to the production of season 1 of Rocko's Modern Life, Murray's first wife committed suicide.[7] Murray had often blamed his wife's suicide on the show being picked up. He said "It was always an awful connection because I look at Rocko as such a positive in my life."[7] Murray felt that he had emotional and physical "unresolved issues" when he moved to Los Angeles. He describes the experience as like participating in "marathon with my pants around my ankles". Murray initially believed that he would create one season, move back to the San Francisco Bay Area, and "clean up the loose ends I had left hanging". Murray said that he felt surprised when Nickelodeon approved new seasons;[4] Nickelodeon renewed the series for its second season in December 1993.

After season 3 he decided to hand the project to Stephen Hillenburg, who performed most work for season 4; Murray continued to manage the cartoon.[4] He said that he would completely leave the production after season 4. He said also that he encouraged the network to continue production, but Nickelodeon eventually decided to cancel the series.

EpisodesEdit

Rocko's Modern Life has a total of 52 episodes spread over 4 seasons that were produced from September 1993 to November 1996.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Heintjes, Tom (2012-09-21). ""The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants" ". Cartoonician.com. http://cartoonician.com/the-oral-history-of-spongebob-squarepants/. Retrieved on 2012-12-25. 
  2. "Rocko's Modern Life ". Joe Murray Studio. http://web.archive.org/web/20110206001351/http://www.joemurraystudio.com/tv/rocko.shtml. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zahed, Ramin (2011-07-12). "Joe Murray Looks Back at Rocko's Modern Life ". Animation Magazine. http://www.animationmagazine.net/people/joe-murray-looks-back-at-rockos-modern-life/. Retrieved on 2011-07-19. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Trainor, Lisa. ""Lisa (Kiczuk) Trainor interviews Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life" ". The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ. http://www.title14.com/rocko/contributors/murray.html. 
  5. VanDerWerff, Todd (2011-07-06). ""Rocko’s Modern Life: Season One" ". The A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/review/rockos-modern-life-season-one-58490. Retrieved on 2011-07-19. 
  6. "Independent Filmwork ". Joe Murray Studio. http://web.archive.org/web/20100309032237/http://www.joemurraystudio.com/indie/indie.shtml. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Murray, Joe (2008-06-16). "Joe Murray's Web Journal ". Joe Murray Studio. http://web.archive.org/web/20080629041444/http://joemurraystudio.com/blog/?p=135. Retrieved on 2014-02-27. 

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