December 16, 2003

Shoot Moose and Squirrel

I just remembered this: how much I really hated the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon characters. I have been told by their multitudes of fans that they were so funny, see, 'cos the jokes on the show had all kinds of adult witticisms that sailed right over the heads of kids -- except, of course, the knowing, oh-so-hip Kool Kidz who loved the show when they were wee precocious things. Do I sound bitter? Please, just the memory of the high-pitched croaky whine that was the squirrel character's voice is so annoying, especially when I haven't been able to [TANGENT] get that freaking "9 to 5" Dolly Parton song out of my head for three effing days. [/TANGENT] Yes, it's too annoying to even swear about.

Anyway, I remember getting all the "jokes" on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and thinking they were pretty lame. It's not as if I was a snob kid who would only watch PBS: I glommed onto crappy kandy-kolored fare like The Monkees (please, please stay in my head, drown out Dolly and the squawking 80s saxophones -- "hey hey we're the Monkees, and people say we Monkee around..." Yeah. Mike Nesmith (sp? It's been years) was my favorite. Sure Davey was cute and all, but Mike had that special I dunno something.

Where was I? Oh yeah. I think I hated all the "hip, knowing, really-about-grownup-stuff, we're just writing cartoons to pay off our ranch homes and wood-paneled hifi systems" children's programming. I think I could see through the pretense, and instead of it making me feel all special and part of the "grown up" crowd, just made me feel like throwing things. I didn't mind being treated like a child; I hated being treated as if I should not want to be one. And -- at least The Monkees was demented in an innocent sort of way, even if the show's creators were just trying to pay off their ranch homes and snazzy hifi systems.

Posted by Andrea Harris at December 16, 2003 12:48 AM

I never cared much for Rocky and Bullwinkle either. I didn't really hate them; they were just nothing to me - a big yawn.

People who claim that the reason they like something and you don't is because they get it and you don't, or they have a sense of humor and you don't, are SO PATHETIC!

Posted by: Lynn S at December 16, 2003 at 08:44 AM

Well, speaking as a fan of the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" I would just note that the social and polical commentary underpinning was lost on me as a child (but makes me enjoy the show to this day). Don't forget that the show was much more than R&B, the Fractured Fairy Tales were great satire and I believe my lifelong love of history was fostered by Sherman and the Professor's jaunts to the past in the "Way-back machine".

Hey, to each his own but I couldn't leave this classic program completely undefended.

And Andrea, it is great to see you back with more regular posts. It was wearing me out looking for your peculiar wit as a commenter on other blogs. :)

Posted by: John McCrarey at December 16, 2003 at 09:23 AM

Mike Nesmith's post-Monkee stuff was rather good (ex: Elephant Parts). I couldn't stand R&B either. I just thought it was total rubbish...never really understood why anyone liked it.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at December 16, 2003 at 10:50 AM

Mike Nesmith was my favorite too ... although I couldn't explain why. A certain je ne sais quoi...

Posted by: red at December 16, 2003 at 11:27 AM

I’ve watched some old Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes as a grownup, and I kind of get them, but not really. On the other hand, Bugs Bunny/Tex Avery comics mixed kid & grownup humor, and those will always be funny.

Mike Nesmith was my favorite too. Maybe it was because he had the funniest lines, or maybe it was that cute hat.

Posted by: mary at December 16, 2003 at 01:37 PM

PETER!!!! He was way cuter than Davey.

I liked Rocky and Bullwinkle too though. I was pretty brainless about why I liked certain things. I never got most of the jokes on R & B, but I liked it.

The show I could not for even a SECOND stand was H&R Puff'n'Stuff.


From an 80s child, best regards....

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson at December 16, 2003 at 01:50 PM

"but Mike had that special I dunno something"


BTW, I loved R&B, not so much for the R&B cartoons themselves (though I liked those well enough) but for all the side cartoons - "Fractured", "Peabody and Sherman", "Aesop's Fables". Ditto for the old WB cartoons (but I was never a Hanna-Barbera fan).

Sadly, something happened by the 70s (I suspect drugs) that caused children's programming to crash, leading to abominations like the aforementioned HRP*f*st*ff. Fortunately, I was older then (but I think they did permanent damage to my younger brothers).

Posted by: Ken Summers at December 16, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Please, just the memory of the high-pitched croaky whine that was the squirrel character's voice is so annoying[...]

God help us if you go do any Christmas shopping at Target. I've been in at least three locations where some tripwire sets off that effing "Chipmunks Christmas" tune whenever I wander near the decorations department. They don't know how grateful they should be that I don't have a concealed carry permit. (OT - store Christmas "music". Whole 'nother rant. Where do they find that crap? They need to calculate how many retail dollars they lose from maddened shoppers high-tailing for the exits because we just can't take the audio gang-rape one second more.)

Nesmith: then there's Repo Man, if you haven't seen it. It's been years, but I remember enjoying it. ("I'm sorry I tortured you.")

Posted by: Moira Breen at December 16, 2003 at 05:09 PM

What about George of the Jungle? :-)

Posted by: Patrick Chester at December 16, 2003 at 06:12 PM

Btw, I liked those cartoons because I found them funny. If others don't it's not because they lack humor, it's simply because their sense of humor is not as demented as mine. So there. ;-)

Posted by: Patrick Chester at December 16, 2003 at 06:22 PM

I have a Monkees greatest-hits CD released by Rhino a few years ago, and several of my friends can hardly believe it when they hear it. (Starting with "Headquarters" in 1967 - a surprisingly good album in its own right - they played all their own instruments.)

Micky Dolenz was the best.

Posted by: Damian P. at December 16, 2003 at 07:49 PM

Well, I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle, and I still do.

You do know that Mr. Nesmith's mom invented Liquid Paper don't you?

Posted by: charles austin at December 16, 2003 at 10:51 PM

I second Sharon on PETER!!!! But, then, I also liked Ringo better.

I kinda, sorta liked R&B but much preferred the incorporated shows already listed (Fractured Fairy Tales, etc). I feel the same about Dudley Do Right and George of the Jungle.

I think what happened with the 'toons and kid shows in the '70s was that they tried to get across some kind of educational/value/moral system along with "trying" to be funny--not a very humorous combination, although at least Schoolhouse Rock was short and had catchy tunes.

Posted by: cardeblu at December 17, 2003 at 01:49 AM

Micky Dolenz always held a special place in my heart as well. (Yeah, Charles -- I knew about the liquid paper thing. I had a friend who was even more of a Monkees nut than I was who would mention it every time their name came up.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 17, 2003 at 07:06 AM

C'mon! Boris and Natasha were the best characters.

Mike Nesmith was the only one who could actually play an instrument.

Posted by: Denny at December 17, 2003 at 12:32 PM

Never paid much attention to R+B themselves - but as others have noted I tried not to miss the rest of the show. Kinda like "watching" the Mickey Mouse show while reading a book unless there was a Donald Duck cartoon on.

Posted by: John Anderson at December 17, 2003 at 01:44 PM

Fearless Leader: "As a reward I am taking you back to Potsylvania."

Both (in dismayed voices): "Back to Potsylvania?"

Boris: "Couldn't we have vacation first? Like, five years in salt mines."

Chacun a son gout, Andrea.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at December 17, 2003 at 06:43 PM

Folks, I gotta tell ya--

R&B was great, especially Boris Badenov, Fearless Leader, and Natasha Fatale.

Not to mention Fractured Fairy Tales as narrated by Edward Everett Thornton (I think). And don't forget Aesop's fables, too.

And who could forget the announcer--William Conrad--star of the 70's "Cannon" series, who during one show, after sampling a rather wonderful vintage remarked, "Not at all pretentious." A phrase I use to this day.

Posted by: joe at December 17, 2003 at 08:21 PM

It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 18, 2003 at 03:45 PM

As Joe says, to each their own, de gustibus etc. etc., but to characterize Jay Ward's cartoon studio as:

hip, knowing, really-about-grownup-stuff, we're just writing cartoons to pay off our ranch homes and wood-paneled hifi systems

is so far off the mark as to be laughably funny to anyone familiar with his work. Trust me, Ward drew R&B (and Crusader Rabbit, and all his other works) because he loved cartoons and he loved comedy. No more, no less. He was a guy who loved to have a good time, and for him, R&B was the apotheosis of a good time.

Posted by: Phil at December 20, 2003 at 09:42 PM

Phil, you can put down your CartoonIdolProtect!™ raygun. I only know the way the cartoons were always presented to me, by both fans and their detractors: as full of nudge-wink "adult" references that struck me as cynical to the core. It's just an opinion, one I realize that apparently 99% of humanity does not share. I am sure that what you say is true, just as I am sure that a personal dislike of the cartoons for no particular reason was enhanced in me by what others said about it, and thus I formed my (I am sure incorrect and unfair) opinion of its creators. I can only reiterate that I don't like the cartoons: I don't like the animation, I thought the jokes were lame, and so on. I don't like anime either, for reasons that other people have found inadequate and taken me to task for. That still didn't make me like it any better.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 20, 2003 at 09:57 PM

That's cool -- I wasn't trying to make you like them. (I don't like anime either, which along with my detestation for Orson Scott Card keeps me from ever getting my Super-Cool SF Fans membership card.) Just saying that, of all the cynical mercenaries in the world of entertainment, the R&B creators weren't among them. And, frankly, the jokes haven't aged well, either. I would have no expectation that today's audiences would understand The Kerwood Derby, or the Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam.

Posted by: Phil at December 21, 2003 at 10:42 AM

That was Edward Everett Horton, whose best known role was in Arsenic and Old Lace. Our parents were amazed when my younger brother and I mourned his passing.

My fandom of Mike Nesmith is focused on the feature film he wrote and produced. Great fun; second only to Eric Flint's novel 1632 in the entire "Connecticut Yankee" genre.

Posted by: triticale at December 21, 2003 at 09:29 PM