Thursday, February 28, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends - Season 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Classic punny humor
Cons: Not everything listed in booklet, ghostly logo on screen
The Bottom Line:
Puns, puns, and more puns
Plenty of segments to watch
Did I mention puns?

Punny from the Start

I didn't really discover the animated show Rocky & Bullwinkle until I was in college. When I did, I spent every afternoon for a week watching the tape releases and laughing all the way through. I later bought the tapes and love re-watching them whenever I need a laugh. Naturally, I jumped on this set as soon as I could.

Presented here are all 26 episodes of the first season. It contains two stories for our heroes Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle the Moose, Jet Fuel Formula and Box Top Robbery. The first, running 40 segments, seems a bit long to me at times. Almost like they were looking for ways to extend the story. But for the most part, it flows along just fine. The story revolves around villains Boris and Natasha's attempts to steal Bullwinkle's secret jet fuel formula. Of course, it's so secret, the moose has no clue what it is either. Box Top Robbery is a short, sweet, and funny 12 "episodes." It tells what happens when the world's true money market, box tops, gets flooded. Probably one of my favorite parts of the show is the titles presented at each cliffhanger at the end of these segments. I've always been a sucker for a bad pun.

Also in each large episode are two other segments. "Fractured Fairy Tales" takes familiar stories and gives them a twisted spin while "Aesop and Son" tells some wild fables that I don't think make his most famous collections. "Dudley Do-Right," is a spoof of melodramas set at a camp of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and "Peabody's Improbable History" takes us back in time to meet various historical figures who need Mr. Peabody's help in making their contributions to history. The twist is, Mr. Peabody is a dog. Additionally, there are the brief "Bullwinkle's Corner" or "Mr. Know-it-All" segments. In the first, Bullwinkle reads a poem and tries to act it out. In the second, Bullwinkle tries to shows us how to accomplish some task. Naturally, he goes about it all wrong. Part of what makes this show great is the humor directed at adults, and these are some of the best examples. For example, "Wee Willie Winkie" is a rather stupid poem when you think about someone doing it. Frankly, I can't image trying to watch this show as a kid because so much of the humor would have gone right over my head then.

Being a low budget show from the 60's, the animation is far from perfect. However, the humor carries the day and makes the show highly addicting.

The DVDs themselves are a treat while not perfect. The picture shows its age, but I found it a little charming and made it feel like I was watching the old show I am. And it's better then my video collection. The sound is clear and well presented in simple Dolby, befitting the age of the show. The biggest complaint is the clear R&B logo that shows up every so often in the bottom right hand corner. I usually don't notice, but when I do it is annoying. Either way, it's pretty pointless.

The final disc includes extras. The two segments from season 2 are certainly appetite wetters. The clips of Boris and Natasha in their various outfits are ok, but certainly not worth watching more then once. However, the other three are fun. "Dear Bullwinkle" features a Bullwinkle puppet answering "letters" sent in by fans of the series. Think Mr. Know-It-All as an advice columnist. Also included several promos for the show from its initial airing And an extended promo for savings stamps features Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha, and Sherman and Peabody.

I don't know enough to know if the title segments have been changed or not, but I've heard it has been as well as some of the music. My only real complaint is that the "Mr. Know-It-All" and "Bullwinkle's Corner" segments aren't listed in the booklet that comes with the set. They are listed on the chapter selection for each episode, however. Overall, this is a minor complaint. Fans of Rocky & Bullwinkle will love having this disc to relive the classic show.

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