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Review of Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series DVD

rocko background art

Rocko’s Modern Life, the beloved Nickelodeon series from the 90’s, will see the release of the fourth and final season on DVD from Shout! Factory on October 15th.  This comes over two years after the release of the first season on DVD, so fans collecting the individual sets will be happy to complete their collections by adding The Final Season DVD this fall.

Several months ago I purchased Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series DVD set.  Yes, The Complete Series set was made available before the fourth season DVD, which is somewhat unusual and caused fan uproar, but that’s another topic. Having a brother ten years younger than I, we often watched the show together. In fact, had it not been for him I would have missed a lot of the 90’s Nickelodeon cartoons. But my younger brother loved them and we watched many of them regularly, including Rocko’s Modern Life. Even then I could tell that Rocko was a strange cartoon. There really wasn’t a point to it. It was just wacky, crazy fun, which is what made it great. It somewhat reminded me of Ren & Stimpy, which had been popular around that time.

Re-watching the series was a real treat. The show is very entertaining, even for adults, which is truly the mark of any good cartoon. At times it is clear that the jokes or references are aimed at adults and that younger viewers won’t necessarily pick up on them. For instance, during one episode where it is suspected aliens are invading O’Town, Heffer makes a reference to the movie Alien in regards to an alien bursting out of the stomach. And in an episode that Joe Murry explains during the season two special features was once banned from airing, the Big Heads consummate (admitted by Joe) by “bringing out the plates,” tossing them and breaking them with a flick of their tongues, as if skeet shooting. However, overall Rocko is just good fun for all ages.

Shout! Factory did a good job with The Complete Series set; the artwork for the case is drawn by Rocko creator Joe Murray. Opening the case reveals a mural of the shows many characters amongst the backdrop of O’Town. Inside are eight discs, each with different character art. The discs are attached to the plastic insert that snaps into the middle of the case, which I am not a fan of since those can come loose or break, but it seems sturdy enough and the discs are easy to access with a graceful flip.

The show looks good on DVD. The menus aren’t animated, but include characters from the show next to the options. While viewing the episodes I noticed that colors are bright and solid. I love seeing the hard work that went into the animation backgrounds and even seeing brushstrokes on characters or backgrounds on occasion while viewing cartoons on my TV.

The set includes some nice bonus features as well. Season one doesn’t have any bonus features, but season two includes some shorts of Joe Murray at his computer drawing Rocko, Heffer, Filburt, and the Fat Heads while mumbling, er, explaining the origins of the characters, or what shapes are used to draw them. Heffer has an odd shape, and Joe explains what shape to draw as the basis for Heffer’s body. Also included is the series pilot, as animated by Joe and his team of animators. Did you know Rocko wasn’t originally tan/brown? Season three includes Joe talking about his favorite moments from the season, which he claims is his favorite. Season four includes a nearly hour long script reading of the episode, “Wacky Deli,” in front of a live audience, and hosted by Rob Paulson. To say it is entertaining is an understatement. Watching it you imagine how fun it must have been watching these guys work in the recording booth.

Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series set is one that deserves a spot on the shelf of any collector. Fans who have bought the individual volumes need not buy The Complete Series set since the bonus features are included on them as well. It would have been nice had the set included a booklet or listing of episodes and bonus features. I wasn’t sure if there were bonus features on each disc, so I inserted each disc looking for them. In short, the bonus features are on the final disc for each season that includes them. Rocko is an entertaining show and even twenty years later, looks great and is entertaining for the entire family.


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