Rocky & Bullwinkle
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rocky & Bullwinkle is a relatively slow-moving retro cartoon about a talking squirrel and moose that's filled with satire that may go over kids' heads. Adults still find Rocky & Bullwinkle delightful, however, and may want to give this one a try for whole-family watching to see if it's a fit. Keep an eye out for stereotypes and slapstick violence. Boris and Natasha are constantly after Rocky and Bullwinkle, threatening to blow them up, drown them, etc. It's all played for laughs but it's still intense hearing characters in a children's show threaten to kill each other. In general though, the dry absurdity of Rocky & Bullwinkle has aged well, and parents who watched the show as children may be eager to try it out on their own kids.
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What's the Story?
In midcentury cartoon classic ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, Rocky is a swift, sarcastic gray squirrel and Bullwinkle is a big bumbling moose. They live in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, a town beset by odd happenings like the visitation of moon men from outer space, and are the targets of tireless spies Boris and Natasha, who are always trying to foil whatever plans Rocky and Bullwinkle have going. In each half-hour episode, Rocky and Bullwinkle's episodic adventures are continued from the last outing, and interspersed with short adventures from other characters, like talking dog/historian Mr. Peabody and his master, Sherman.
Is It Any Good?
When collaborators Jay Ward and Alex Anderson made Rocky & Bullwinkle in the late '50s and early '60s, they were way ahead of their time. Maybe that's why this mix of silly and deadpan satire still seems pretty modern. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it's smirk-worthy, and that's a rare quality in television you can watch with your children. Speaking of those children, they might find Rocky & Bullwinkle boring. Sometimes the moose and squirrel do cartoonishly interesting things like going out in space in a flying saucer; other times they sit and talk for minutes at a time. The references alone will confuse the heck out of most children: Mom, what's a telegram?
Fractured Fairy Tales are the likeliest segments to appeal to kids, taking on classic fairy tales with a satirical bent as they do. For instance, in FFT's version, passive Sleeping Beauty becomes obnoxious Leaping Beauty. Even very young kids can get that joke. The rest of the show may drag too much for them, but older kids may catch on faster. This is great whole-family viewing, as mom and dad will like Rocky & Bullwinkle as much as (maybe even more than) kids.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether Rocky & Bullwinkle is more violent than today's kid's shows. Do characters shoot each other in the cartoons made today? Why or why not? What's different about today than the times that Rocky & Bullwinkle was made?
Do you think Russian people or people from Eastern Europe would be offended by Boris and Natasha? Why or why not?
Who is smarter, Bullwinkle or Rocky? What about their characters make you come to this conclusion?
- Premiere date: November 19, 1959
- Cast: Daws Butler, Edward Everett Horton, June Foray
- Network: ABC
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: June 3, 2022
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