Thursday, 27 July 2017

Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby ... First look at 'Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling'

source: nickelodeon

Even though I was born in ‘96, I still had the pleasure of experiencing the animation renaissance of the nineties. There was a plethora of cartoons on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network that occupied my tiny mind and imagination: The Ren & Stimpy Show, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Cow and Chicken, The Angry Beavers Rugrats, X-Men and The Powerpuff Girls to name a few. But, there was one show in particular that has held onto my heart to this very day – Rocko’s Modern Life

At the San Diego Comic Con last weekend (a convention I can only dream of one day attending), Nickelodeon’s panel featured many of its iconic shows, whilst also premiering the first footage of two one-hour specials: Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie and Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. I wasn’t an avid fan of Hey Arnold! when it was on Nickelodeon; I watched it like any other cartoon airing at the time, but not as much as Rocko’s Modern Life.

I’ve been more than content with watching re-runs and random sequences from Rocko’s Modern Life since it ceased to air, but watching this new trailer has instigated a part of me that has always wanted Rocko to come back. Whether it’s from my insane nostalgia that I have for the decade or just a yearning for my childhood, watching Rocko (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), Heffer (voiced by Tom Kenny), Filbert (voiced by Mr. Lawrence) and Spunko (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) back in O-Town (in this rather dangerous century, rather than the 1990s) filled a void that I didn’t know I had. 

Reboots and revivals of television series and films run the risk of completely ruining or disregarding their seminal work. I tried not to be hesitant in waiting to see this trailer, but of course I was a little tense before I hit the play button. Thankfully, I needn’t have any hesitancy at all. After Rocko, Heffer, Filbert and Spunky return from their twenty-year voyage in space, the infamous brush makes its nostalgic appearance with Rocko, Heffer and Filbert peering through the grass with Rocko exclaiming ‘Uh, fellas? I don’t think we’re in the 90s anymore.’ 

source: nickelodeon

It certainly is not, but that doesn’t stop show creator Joe Murray and the creative team behind Rocko’s Modern Life from re-creating the show’s famed satirical humour and its social commentary through anthropomorphic caricature. With Rocko now living in the 21st century, he is truly living a modern life that is inherently run by narcissism and material needs. 

In this nearly 3-minute trailer alone, the trio are subjected to a commercialized coffee shop chain, arterial highways winding above and through O-Town, billboards looming over confined houses and high-rise apartment buildings, alongside the ever-looming presence of NSA drones and security cameras watching their every move.

All Rocko, Heffer and Filburt can say in response to this vastly different century is … ‘Wooooowwww’.

At first, Rocko, Heffer and Filbert are ecstatic with these new changes and head out to try everything that the 21st century has to offer. This exploration in the world of smartphones (‘The O-Phone’), ‘radioactive’ power drinks and caffeine highs sends Rocko slowly into a nervous breakdown. From being punched in the face by a dark, 3D Really, Really (Really) Big Man (‘It’s so realistic) to finding out that his job at Lots-O-Comics has been replaced by a 3D-printer, it’s no wonder Rocko comes to the conclusion that ‘the 21st century is a very dangerous century.’

The trailer itself is bordered by the original opening with up-to-date changes. From the trio emerging from the grass at the beginning to the famous sequence of Rocko running from multiple characters towards the end, this ‘reboot’ (that Rocko is literally thrown in to in this trailer) utilizes the original, animation style that the show used in the early 90s whilst retaining a crisper visual aesthetic due to today’s digital capabilities.

The original voice actors are all there, the music and stylistic tones are still apparent and the original creative team are at the helm. I wouldn’t even go as far as calling Rocko’s Modern Life: A Static Cling a reboot; rather a continuation of the series even if it’s only for an hour.

Man, if all goes well … I hope that they continue this as a fifth series.

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