For the first time on DVD, the zany adventures of Rocky, Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody and the gang as they confound their hapless nemeses Boris and Natasha. These 36 digitally remastered episodes in the original broadcast order also include everyone's favorite Fractured Fairy Tales." Animated. 4 DVDs. 1959-1960/color/18 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
Now here's something you don't see everyday, Chauncey. It's the complete first season of one of television's smartest, savviest, and most subversively funny animated series, ranked by TV Guide as one of the top 50 series of all time. Like the animators at Warner Bros.' Termite Terrace (birthplace of Porky, Daffy, and Bugs), producer Jay Ward, his partner Bill Scott (the voice of Bullwinkle), and the cracked writing staff did not write down to children. The dialogue is witty and sharply satiric. Characters break the "fourth wall" between the screen and the audience. They make sly references to the show's creators and the television network. They hurl barbs of mass destruction at Washington, D.C. politicians. And then there are the godawful puns. This four-disc set contains the series' first two serial adventures. "Jet Fuel Formula" is a cold war-era blast, as Rocky (voiced by June Foray, the Queen of Cartoons) and Bullwinkle frantically race to re-create a rocket fuel recipe (actually Grandma Bullwinkle's recipe for mooseberry fudge cake), while being menaced by those no-goodniks Boris Badenov and femme fatale Natasha. "Box Top Robbery" reveals that the basis for the world's economy is not gold and silver, but cereal box tops.
Linking these cliffhanging episodes are such hilarious segments as "Fractured Fairy Tales," which upend familiar storybook favorites (Red Riding Hood, for example, is a predatory fur merchant after the unwitting wolf), "Mr. Peabody," the canine genius who travels through time in the company of his boy, Sherman, and forthright Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties, who must contend with his own horse for the affections of sweet Nell. Bullwinkle gets extra credits as Mr. Know-It-All and as the host of Poetry Corner. And watch him pull a rabbit out of his hat! These cartoons are as fresh and funny as when they first aired more than four decades ago. Boomer-era adults will be amazed at the jokes that no doubt soared over their heads as children. --Donald Liebenson