DVD Review: Rocko’s Modern Life (The Final Season)

The fourth season of Rocco’s Modern Life marked a major shift when creator Joe Murray turned over the reins to Stephen Hillenburg. Murray still had a hand in production, but this was Hillenburg’s season to shine as Creative Director. He didn’t shake up the show to make it his regime. There would be no cast additions, gimmick events like Rocco winning the lottery or transforming the wallaby into a kangaroo. Hillenburg’s primary focus was to keep the frantic energy of life in O-Town at full tilt. Sadly Nickelodeon didn’t care that it was still a great show. Thus these 13 episodes are inside Rocko’s Modern Life: The Final Season.

“With Friends Like These” opens with Filbert (Mr. Lawrence) and Heffer (Tom Kenny) eager to win a radio station’s contest for two ticket to a major pro wrestling match. But their plan backfires when the winner turns out to be Rocko (Carlos Alazraqui). He was trying to call the pizza joint. Filbert and Heffer do a full frontal friendship attack to be Rocko’s spare ticket friend. Can the little guy survive the onslaught of kindness. Mr. Bighead begins to sleep walk in “Sailing the Seven Zzzz’s.” What makes this a real problem is the the unconscious Mr. Bighead thinks he’s a pirate and Rocko has a treasure map. Sleeping men tell great tales. “Pranksters” brings out the Fools on April 1. Filbert is the target of way too many pranks. “From Here to Maternity” has a character expecting a baby. “Ed Good, Rocko Bad” pits two neighbors against each other in the race to be dog catcher of O-Town. They are fierce enough to run for the mayor of New York City. “Teed Off” takes Ed Bighead out on the golf course to swing with his boss. He knows better than to win, but Heffer can’t stand losing. “Wimp on the Barby” brings one of Rocko’s old schoolmates to town. But it turns out the guy used to torment Rocco back then. This is a good reason to hide your address from all alumni groups. “Yarnbenders” are tall tales used to make Filbert feel better. “Mama’s Boy” finally has Heffer move out of his mom’s house. But he can’t handle the wild life that greats him on the outside. He might end up on an episode of Intervention. “Fiesty Giest” gives Heffer another kind of roomie. Although this time’s it could be a ghost haunting him for more than his share of the rent. “S.W.A.K.” is a tale of a love letter gone wrong. In this case Rocko might have sent it to a married woman. What can he do to stop it from being delivered? It might be a bit criminal. “Magic Meatball” is the perfectly true story of how Ed Bighead shakes the Magic 8-Ball to make his business decisions. This is what they teach you at an Ivy League business school. “Closet Clown” exposes one characters secret life in make up and unusual shoes. “Seat to Stardom” turns Rocko into a super model. His time at the top ruins his relationships with the little people.

“The High Five of Doom” makes everyone suspect that Filbert arrived in O-Town on a UFO. Is he part of an alien invasion? “Fly Burgers” is a litigation nightmare for Rocko. This short reminds us why we need to stop insects from being able to access the judicial system. “Heff in a Handbasket” has the cow sell his soul. Shame he didn’t unload a stomach since he has four of them. “Wallaby on Wheels” puts him on skates to impress a date. He’s not a natural. “Dumbells” puts Rocko in jail for a crime that involves playing “Ding Dong Ditch. “Rug Birds” is an exciting day of bird watching. “Hypno-Puppy Love” finally makes Heffer good at something. He can put Rocko in a trance. “Driving Mrs. Wolfe” makes Rocko a driving instructor for Heffer’s mom. This can not end well. “Put to Pasture” might feature Heffer on his death bed. Rocko flashbacks to their early days. “Future Schlock” flashes forward so Filbert can explain the wya things were 17 years before in the present tense. Oddly enough, this DVD comes out around 17 years after this episode aired on Nickelodeon. That means it’s future has caught up with us. “Turkey Time” is a thanksgiving day special. Rocko wants to free the turkeys. Will he deny O-Town their Butterball love? “Floundering Fathers” debates how O-Town came to be. Nobody seems to have a historical clue.

How could this really be the end of Rocko? The show was still going strong. It hadn’t been reduced to cannibalizing earlier scripts. But some suit at Nickelodeon was finished with the show after four seasons. In the end you can’t feel bad for the people associated with the show that was canceled too soon. Why? Because Hillenburg would devise a new Nickelodeon cartoon starring a little yellow guy known as SpongeBob SquarePants. He’d brings along many of the crew and cast including Tom Kenny to voice him. Carlos Alazraqui hit the streets as Officer Garcia on Reno 911! Murray would return to Nickelodeon with Camp Lazlo. It’s probably a good thing that Rocko’s Modern Life didn’t get dragged out for a decade. The 52 cartoons are entertaining without feeling like the characters are running on fumes. Rocko maintained the same quality from start to finish.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The brilliant colors look fine on the transfer. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The sound mix is good enough to understand the Australian accent on Rocko. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

“Wacky Delly” Live 2012
(51:48) reunites Joel Murray, Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Mr. Lawrence and others for a live reading of the episode. After they read the scipt, they take questions from the audience. Tom Kenny talks about how Rocko changed his life.

Rocko’s Modern Life: The Final Season wraps up one of best cartoons from the ’90s. The tale of a bewildered wallaby in a big American city is still a pleaser after nearly two decades.

Shout! Factory presents Rocko’s Modern Life: The Final Season. Starring: Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Mr. Lawrence and Charlie Alder. Boxset contents: 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: October 15, 2013.

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