Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: Complete 1st Season
Studio: Sony/Classic Media
Film Length: 610 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Standard (1.33:1)
Audio: English Mono, Spanish Mono
In 1959 General Mills agreed to sponsor the children’s television show Rocky and His Friends, which would debut on September 29th, 1959 and end on September 3rd, 1961 before switching networks and names. No matter what title you call it the show was recently voted one of the greatest cartoons in television history and nearly forty-five years after its debut, Rocky the flying squirrel and his moose companion Bullwinkle are still favorites amongst kids and adults. Sony and Classic Media are celebrating the show by releasing this four-disc set, Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, which contains the first full season.
Jet Fuel Formula is the first storyline that our heroes face and it incredibly runs for forty episodes. Rocky and Bullwinkle discover an explosive rocket fuel that launches them to the moon where they encounter moon men and various other creatures. When the government learns of their adventures they appoint Bullwinkle Director of Guided Mooses and demand that he get the secret for this fuel. However, the fuel was destroyed in their original mission so the moose and squirrel must frantically find a way to make it. Spies Boris and Natasha eventually show up to try and steal the secret of the rocket fuel.
Box Top Robbery is the second storyline but this one here only lasts for twelve episodes. Anyone with a decent I.Q. knows that cereal box tops are what keep this countries economy going. The country is thrown into panic when the news breaks that there is a ring of counterfeit tops making the round. The World Economic Council makes the announcement that Bullwinkle J. Moose, founding father of the cereal box tops, is behind this counterfeit ring. Bullwinkle gets together with his friend Rocky to track down the real criminal who of course turns out to be Boris.
This is where I come clean and admit that I’m not a huge fan of this cartoon. I really hated this show as a kid and tried to stay as far away as I could but I was looking forward to this DVD to see if my opinion had changed over the years. After going through these episodes on season one I realized that my opinion hadn’t changed but I still had a fairly decent time with the series. I’m really not sure what it is but Rocky and Bullwinkle are two very entertaining characters but I still can’t get over how bad the series itself is.
Watching all these episodes back to back had me thinking about Edward D. Wood, Jr., the infamous horror director who made such classics as Glen or Glenda? and Plan 9 From Outer Space. These films are certainly far from true classics but at the same time they are highly entertaining due to the camp value and how over-the-top and insane the actual stories are. The same holds true for Rocky and Bullwinkle due to the insane stories mixed in with the obnoxious supporting characters. The series seems like a strange acid trip where anything and everything is possible and that’s usually what we get.
Note: I’m not an expert on this series but the liner notes brought up a few issues that the fans might be curious about. Tiffany Ward, daughter of Jay, wrote the following: We’ve brought all the episodes together under one name, using the rare second-season opening (Dad’s favorite), beautifully restored the original prints, and replaced the music as Dad later requested, with themes he specifically produced for the first two seasons. All the episodes are under the title The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends.
VIDEO: The episodes are all shown full frame, which is the correct aspect ratio. Having never seen this first season on previous releases this here was my first viewing so I’ve got nothing to compare it to. I flipped through a few episodes on television and what I saw there is pretty much what’s on the disc. The colors are pretty strong in the animation area but there are still several minor problems. Several of the episodes appear a little too dirty and white speckles pop up throughout the episodes. There are a few scratches as well but the picture quality is pretty steady throughout each episode.
AUDIO--- The sound is Dolby Digital Mono and is rather disappointing as well. The way the series was recorded is probably the biggest problem but there’s still nothing here that separates this from what we’ve heard on regular television. The dialogue is a bit too low and there are various moments where I had to turn the volume up just to make out what the characters were saying.
EXTRAS--- Dear Bullwinkle: features Bullwinkle the puppet reading letters from fans Up next is a promo section, which features bumpers which were used to promote the first season. Rocky and Bullwinkle Saving Stamp Club is a complete episode, which was actually made as a promo for the Saving Stamp Club. Here the boys tell us what stamps are and how to use them while battling various villains. The Many Faces of Boris Badenov is another promo that shows various clips of Boris in different outfits trying to outwit the squirrel and moose. We also get some brief clips of Season 2, which is planned for a 2004 release. Finally we get a small booklet with an introduction by Tiffany Ward and a look at the two storylines and those involved in the production.
OVERALL---I’m certainly not a fan of this series but of course I’m not the one this DVD is targeted to. If you enjoy the various adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle then there’s no reason not to add this to your collection. With the retail price of $39.95 this set will surely make the fans happy. I had never seen any of the first season before but compared to various episodes I’ve seen on television, the image and audio quality really doesn’t appear any better or worse. The extras on the other hand were highly entertaining, more so than the actual show in my opinion.
Release Date: August 12, 2003