DVD Review: Rocko’s Modern Life (Season Two)

Rarely does a show upgrade its theme song. Most of the time the producers replace it with a cheaper track. Happy Days dropped Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” for the less expensive “Happy Days.” The second season of Rocko’s Modern Life stepped up when they landed the B-52s to revamp the opening. The legendary band from Athens, Georgia brought their space age vocals to the animated Wallaby. The series matched the enhancement with higher levels of weirdness for the overwhelmed wallaby and his pals. Rocko’s Modern Life: Season Two cements this cartoon’s cult status after getting the seal of approval from Fred Schneider.

“I Have No Son!” introduces the character of Ralph Bighead. He had to get out from his overbearing parents to pursue his dream of being an animator. He found fame in creating a series called the Fatheads about people who kind of resemble his rude parents. Rocko (Carlos Alazraqui) and his pal Filburt Turtle (Mr. Lawrence) are the biggest Fatheads fans. They are upset when they discover the riff between Ralph and his parents. They go out to Ralph’s animation studio to reunite the family. The trip is a trip as Filburt soaks up the behind the scenes tour and the gift shop. “Pipe Dreams” deals with the realistic nightmare of Heffer (Tom Kenny) clogging up Rocko’s toilet. “Tickled Pinky” gets trippy when Rocko needs his appendix removed. “The Lounge Singer” tracks Filburt’s dream to be a crooner using a series of educational tapes. “Road Rash” puts the boys on the road to see Flemm Rock before it gets knocked over. “Boob Tubed” sucks Heffer’s brain into the TV. “Commuted Sentence” makes Rocko in jeopardy of losing his job at the comic book store. He must overcome a traffic jam and Heffer’s help.

“Rocko’s Modern Christmas” is a holiday special worthy of being a family viewing tradition. Rocko throws a party and the Bigheads figure out a way to really ruin it. “Kiss Me, I’m Foreign” starts the deportation process on Rocko. His only hope is to marry Filburt. Can the turtle pull off the scam? “Cruisin'” is another half hour special for the season. Rocko and Heffer wheel Grandpa Wolfe onto his cruise ship. The duo don’t get off the boat in time and find themselves at the mercy of ship’s captain. “Hair Licked” gives the classic fear of a bad hair day clashing with picture day. In this case Rocko is supposed to get his photo taken for the newspaper. Can he lick his hair issue? “Gutter Balls” takes the fix to the bowling alley. Mr. Bighead gets Rocko to put together a bowling team with the hopes that they’ll be cupcakes for Bighead’s team and others. But will the pins remain up after Rocko unloads the ball? “Snowballs” takes Rocko and Heffer to a ski resort that swears “Everything for $5.” What they don’t understand is that price doesn’t cover the entire experience. “Eyes Capades” takes Rocko to the jackhammer competition. Whatever happened to Competitive Jackhammering on ESPN?

Rocko’s Modern Life is 20 years old, but the stories don’t feel dated. If you missed the show’s original run on Nickelodeon, you’ll think this is a new series. The episodes won’t require you to refer to history book to laugh at the jokes. The little wallaby remains fresh in his convoluted experiences. Rocko’s Modern Life remains cool and hip without resorting to nostalgia.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers so you can get the odd details from the visit to Ralph Bighead’s animation studio. The audio is 2.0 stereo with a good level between the voice actors and the sound effects. There’s a good solid “blap” sound. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

“Trash-O-Madness” Original Pilot Version (8:19) is a little different since the the first half of the episode was animated by Joe Murray before he brought on a crew for the second half. There’s also a different soundtrack.

Behind the Characters with Joe Murray follows the creator’s hand as he draws the characters on a computer screen. He explains the elements of design for Rocko (3:38), Heffer (4:06), Filburt (2:47) and the Bigheads (5:38).

Rocko’s Modern Life: Season Two takes the series up a notch with the B-52s theme song. The three full length episodes don’t drag when compared to the episodes that featured two cartoons in an episode. Rocko’s such a sweet and horrified character that he remains modern even if he was created back in the 20th Century.

Shout! Factory presents Rocko’s Modern Life: Season Two. Starring: Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Mr. Lawrence and Linda Wallem. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: February 7, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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