Rocky and His Friends
Rocky and His Friends is the classic television cartoon series starring Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. It aired Thursday afternoons on ABC and was sponsored by General Mills.
The series revolved around the derring-do of the favorite citizens of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, Rocky and Bullwinkle, as they squared off against Pottsylvania spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. Two serialized episodes aired per show in 30-minute installments, and story arcs ran anywhere from 4 episodes (the finale, "Moosylvania Saved" to 40 episodes (the first, "Jet Formula"). It was ostensibly a kids' show, but the clever satire and Cold War political undertones attracted adults as well. It was rich in puns, character interaction and scripts bristling with crisp dialogue.
Buffeting the show were revolving features such as "Fractured Fairy Tales" and "Peabody's Improbable History" as well as short features "Mr. Know-It-All" and "Bullwinkle's Corner."
Production for the show started in February 1958, with story writers and voice artists all lined up. What they didn't have was animators. In order to accommodate time frames and deadlines, General Mills had the animation farmed out to Val-Mar Studios in Mexico City (later changing names to Gamma). Ward and his staff weren't very happy with the scenes that came back, which were rife with animation errors all over the place. It still became a hit, ABC's highest rated daytime show at the time. Some animation for the General Mills commercials featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle were done in-house at Ward's studios.
It was in 1961 that Jay Ward went to the White House in Washington seeking statehood for Moosylvania, the fictional country he created for later story arcs (he had bought an island, apparently, off the Great Lakes). He was unceremoniously removed from the premises as President John F. Kennedy was embroiled in the Cuban Missile Crisis at the time. Television personality Durward Kirby filed a suit against Ward for the "Kirwood Derby," a hat (in another story arc) that made who ever wore it the most intelligent person on Earth. Ward's response: "Sue us. Please. We need the publicity!"
After leaving ABC's weekday line-up, Rocky and His Friends was retooled for NBC's primetime line up and retitled The Bullwinkle Show. (Repeats under the title Rocky and His Friends ran concurrently in syndication as 30-minute strips, and as The Rocky Show in 15-minute strips.)
In 1989, plans were made for Disney to revive Rocky and Bullwinkle for a new TV show, under the impression that they had rights to the characters (they in fact had home video distribution rights and nothing more). When they found out that MCA/Universal had the rights to the characters, Disney quickly churned out a replacement--Darkwing Duck.
In 1990, a special documentary, Of Moose And Men: The Rocky & Bullwinkle Story aired on PBS stations. In 1994, a live-action movie, Boris & Natasha (focusing obviously on the two villains) was released to home video. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle became a 2000 live action/animated movie.
In 2005, Ward would be saluted and caricatured by Cartoon Network in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls called "I See a Funny Cartoon in Your Future." The episode played like a Rocky & Bullwinkle episode and even featured the voice of June Foray, voice of Rocky and Natasha.
A new series by DreamWorks Animation, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, premiered on Amazon's streaming service on May 11, 2018.
|Edward Everett Horton||Fractured Fairy Tales Narrator||1||2|
|June Foray||Rocket J. Squirrel||1||2|
|Bill Scott||Bullwinkle J. Moose||1||2|
|Paul Frees||Boris Badenov||1||2|
|Season One||November 19, 1959||May 14, 1960||26|
|Season Two||September 15, 1960||September 7, 1961||52|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
The DVDs for The Bullwinkle Show and Rocky and His Friends have been released under the combined title Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends.
|Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: Complete Season 1||August 12, 2003||4||
|Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: Complete Season 2||August 31, 2004||4||
|Episode Collections - Various Series|
|The Best of Boris & Natasha||May 9, 2006||1||
|The Best of Dudley Do-Right||May 31, 2005||1||
|The Best of Fractured Fairy Tales||September 6, 2005||1||
|The Best of Peabody & Sherman||May 31, 2005||1||
|The Best of Rocky & Bullwinkle: Volume 1||September 13, 2005||1||
|The Best of Rocky & Bullwinkle: Volume 2||September 18, 2007||1||
|The Best of Rocky & Bullwinkle||May 9, 2006||1||