Rocky & Bullwinkle is known for quality writing and wry humor. Mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor, it appealed to adults as well as children. It was also one of the first cartoons whose animation was outsourced; storyboards were shipped to Gamma Productions, a Mexican studio also employed by Total Television). Thus the art has a choppy, unpolished look and the animation is extremely limited even by television animation standards at the time. Yet the series has long been held in high esteem by those who have seen it; some critics described the series as a well-written radio program with pictures.
The show was never a ratings hit and was shuffled around (airing in afternoon, prime time, and Saturday morning) but has garnered an influential cult following over the decades, influencing programs from The Simpsons to Rocko's Modern Life. Segments from the series were later recycled in the Hoppity Hooper show.
In 2013, Rocky and His Friends was ranked the sixth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time by TV Guide.
There have also been rumors about a new series on Nickelodeon.
Rocky and Bullwinkle
The tales of Rocky J Squirrel and his roommate, Bullwinkle, a dimwitted and confused moose. Join Rocky and Bullwinkle on their amazing adventures as they take on evil enemies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, spies for the fictional country of Pottsylvania. This is the first TV series to have a story arc. Each segment is over 5 minutes long.
Join Mr. Peabody, a snooty talking dog & his sidekick, a simpleminded young boy named Sherman as they travel through time in the WABAC time machine--saving history's greats from obscurity and ensuring the accuracy of our past! They also cause time paradoxes. Each episode ends with Peabody making bad puns and annoying Sherman. For example, when going back to the time of Pancho Villa, they show Pancho a photo of a woman and he promptly feels the urge to take a nap. When Sherman asks why this is so, Peabody says that the woman's name is Esther, and whenever you "see Esther" (siesta) you fall asleep.
This segemnt is a parody of early 20th century melodrama and silent film serials of the Northern genre. Dudley Do-Right is a Canadian Mountie in constant pursuit of his nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, who sports the standard "villain" attire of black top hat, cape, and over-sized moustache. This is one of the few Jay Ward cartoons to feature a background music track. As is standard in Ward's cartoons, jokes often have more than one meaning. A standard gag is to introduce characters in an irised close-up with the name of the "actor" displayed in a caption below, a convention seen in some early silent films. However, the comic twist is using the captions to present silly names or subtle puns. Occasionally, even the scenery is introduced in this manner, as when "Dead Man's Gulch" is identified as being portrayed by "Gorgeous Gorge," a reference to professional wrestler Gorgeous George.
Fractured Fairy Tales
This segment spoofs familiar fairy tales and children's stories, but with altered storylines and modernized for humorous effect. This segment was narrated by Edward Everett Horton; June Foray, Bill Scott, Paul Frees, and an uncredited Daws Butler often supplied the voices.
Aesop & Son
This segment is similar to Fractured Fairy Tales, complete with the same theme music, except it deals with fables instead of fairy tales. The typical structure consists of Aesop attempting to teach a lesson to his son using a fable. After hearing the story, the son subverts the fable's moral with a pun. This structure was also suggested by the feature's opening titles, which showed Aesop painstakingly carving his name in marble using a mallet and chisel and then his son, with a jackhammer and raising a cloud of dust, appending "And Son." Aesop was voiced (uncredited) by actor Charlie Ruggles and the son, Junior, was voiced by Daws Butler.
Bullwinkle attempting to introduce culture into the proceedings by reciting (and acting out) poems and nursery rhymes, inadvertently and humorously butchering them. Poems subjected to this treatment include several by Robert Louis Stevenson ("My Shadow", "The Swing", and "Where Go the Boats"); William Wordsworth's "Daffodils"; "Little Miss Muffet", "Little Jack Horner", and "Wee Willie Winkie"; J. G. Whittier's "Barbara Frietchie"; and "The Queen of Hearts" by Charles Lamb. Simple Simon is performed with Boris as the pie man, but as a variation of the famous Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?".
Bullwinkle posing as an authority on any topic. Disaster inevitably ensues.
Rocky and Bullwinkle Fan Club
A series of abortive attempts by Rocky and Bullwinkle to conduct club business. The fan club consists only of Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha, and Captain Peter Peachfuzz. These shorts portray the characters out of character.
- General Mills used to sponsor the show, so the characters appeared as the General Mills spokesmen.
- In 1993, Rocky and Bullwinkle starred in commercials for Taco Bell. In each commercial, Boris and Natasha would try to get people to eat their McBorris burgers which would either bore people or put them in a daze.
- Due to the popularity of the series, there is an arcade in Wilsonville's Family Fun Center called Bullwinkle's Restaurant.
There have been many films spun-off from Rocky and Bullwinkle.
A year later, another Rocky and Bullwinkle film was made. It was a mix of CGI, 2D, and Live Action. It was about Rocky and Bullwinkle teaming up with an FBI agent to stop Fearless Leader from taking over the world. The movie stars Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander, Renee Russo, and Piper Perabo. It also features appearances by Kenan and Kel, Whoopi Goldberg, John Goodman, Billy Crystal, and David Alen Grier. This got mixed reviews and was a box office flop.
In 2014, two years after DreamWorks purchased Classic Media (the company that owns Jay Ward's shows), a movie starring Mr. Peabody was released. It was about Sherman and Peabody's personal lives that accidentally cause the timeline to be all jumbled up. Unlike the series, Peabody treats Sherman like a son rather than a pet and underling and the WABAC machine has been upgraded to a space age esque machine. The movie stars Ty Burrel, Max Charles, and Ariel Winter.
It is said that there is a new Rocky and Bullwinkle series coming to Netflix soon.