|Show Name:||Rocko's Modern Life|
|Format:||Animated series, Comedy|
|Runtime:||22 minutes (11 per episode) (approx.)|
|Executive Producer:||Joe Murray|
|Opentheme:||"Rocko's Modern Life"|
|First Aired:||September 18, 1993|
|Last Aired:||November 24, 1996|
|List Episodes:||List of Rocko's Modern Life episodes|
Rocko's Modern Life is an American TV animated series, the fourth of Nickelodeon's Nicktoons, created by Joe Murray and aired for four seasons from 1993 to 1996. The show was based around the surreal, parodic adventures of an anthropomorphic wallaby named Rocko, and his life in the city of O-Town. The program was produced by Joe Murray Productions and Nickelodeon Studios, and occasionally by Games Productions. The show is laden with double entendres, sexual innuendos, and social commentary, some of which have been edited in rebroadcasts. Rocko's Modern Life ended production in 1996.
Originally, the character Rocko appeared in an unpublished comic book titled Travis. Murray tried selling the comic book in the late 1980s, between illustrating jobs, and did not find success in getting it in production. Many other characters appeared in various sketchbooks. He described the early 1990s animation atmosphere as "ripe for this kind of project. We took some chances that would be hard to do in these current times," with the "current times" being the 1990s. Murray wanted funding for his independent film "My Dog Zero," so he wanted Nickelodeon to pre-buy television rights for the series. He presented a pencil test to Nickelodeon Studios, which afterward became interested in buying and airing the show.
Linda Simensky, then in charge of animation development in Nickelodeon, described the Nicktoons lineup and concept to Murray. He originally felt skepticism towards the concept of creating a Nicktoon as he disliked television cartoons. Simensky told him that Nicktoons differed from other cartoons. He told her that he believed that "My Dog Zero" would not work as a cartoon. He then researched Nickelodeon at the library and found that Nickelodeon's "attitude was different than regular TV." Murray combed through his sketchbooks, developed the Rocko's Modern Life concept, and submitted it to Nickelodeon, believing that the concept would likely be rejected. According to Murray, around three or four months later he had "forgotten about" the concept and was working on "My Dog Zero" when Simensky informed him that Nickelodeon wanted a pilot episode. Murray said that he was glad that he would get funding for "My Dog Zero." On his website he describes "My Dog Zero" was "that film that Linda Simensky saw which led me to Rocko." "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic" was originally written as the pilot; the executives decided that Heffer Wolfe, one of the characters, would be "a little too weird for test audiences." Murray, instead of removing Heffer from "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic," decided to write "Trash-O-Madness" as the pilot episode.
When the series was in development prior to the release of the first episode, the series had the title The Rocko Show. In 1992, two months prior to the production of season 1 of Rocko's Modern Life, Murray's first wife committed suicide. Murray said that he felt that he had emotional and physical "unresolved issues" when he moved to Los Angeles. He describes the experience as like participating in "marathon with my pants around my ankles." Murray initially believed that he would create one season, move back to the San Francisco Bay Area, and "clean up the loose ends I had left hanging." Murray said that he felt surprised when Nickelodeon approved new seasons; Nickelodeon renewed the series for its second season in December 1993.
After season 3 he decided to hand the project to Stephen Hillenburg, who performed most work for season 4; Murray continued to manage the cartoon. He said that he would completely leave the production after season 4. He said also that he encouraged the network to continue production, but Nickelodeon eventually decided to cancel the series. He described all fifty-two episodes as "top notch", and in his view the quality of a television show may decline as production continues "when you are dealing with volume." On his website he said that, "In some ways it succeeded and in some ways failed. All I know it developed its own flavor and an equally original legion of fans." In a 1997 interview Murray said that he at times wondered if he could re-start the series; he feels the task would be difficult.
Murray's Joe Murray Productions and Games Animation rented office space on Ventura Boulevard in the Studio City neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. The production moved to a different office building on Vineland Avenue in Studio City. Executives did not share space with the creative team.  Rough Draft Studios assembled the animation. According to Murray, as Rocko's Modern Life was his first television series, he did not know about the atmosphere of typical animation studios. Murray said that he opted to operate his studio in a similar manner to the operation of his Saratoga, California studio, which he describes as "Very relaxed." His cadre included many veterans who, according to him, described the experience as "the most fun they had ever had!" He, saying that the atmosphere was "not my doing," credited his team members for collectively contributing.  Murray described the daily atmosphere at the studio as "very loose," adding that the rules permitted all staff members to use the paging system to make announcements. He stated that one visitor compared the environment of the production studio to "preschool without supervision."   Murray stated that 70 people in the United States and over 200 people in South Korea animated the series. 
Murray produced the pilot episode, "Trash-O-Madness," at his studio in Saratoga; he animated half of the episode, and the production occurred entirely in the United States, with animation in Saratoga and processing in San Francisco.  While directing during recording sessions, Murray preferred to be on the stage with the actors instead of "behind glass" in a control room, which he describes as "the norm" while making animated series.  He believes that, due to his lack of experience with children, Rocko's Modern Life "skewed kind of older." Murray noted, "There's a lot of big kids out there. People went to see 'Roger Rabbit' and saw all these characters they'd grown up with and said, 'Yeah, why don't they have something like that anymore?'" When he began producing Rocko, he says that his experience in independent films initially led him to attempt to micromanage many details in the production. He said that the approach, when used for production of television shows, was "driving me crazy." This led him to allow for other team members to manage aspects of the Rocko's Modern Life production.
The writers aimed to create stories that they describe as "strong" and "funny." The writers, including George Maestri and Martin Olson, often presented ideas to Murray while eating hamburgers at Rocky's, a restaurant formerly located on Lankershim in the North Hollywood section of the San Fernando Valley. He took his team members on "writing trips" to places such as Rocky's, the LaBrea Tar Pits, and the wilderness. If he liked the story premises, the writers produced full outlines from the premises. Outlines approved by both him and Nickelodeon became Rocko's Modern Life episodes. Maestri describes some stories as originating from "real life" and some originating from "thin air."   Murray stated that each episode of Rocko's Modern Life stemmed from a personal experiences of himself and/or one or more of the directors or writers.  He said that he did not intend to use formulaic writing seen in other cartoons; he desired content that "broke new ground" and "did things that rode the edge," and that could be described as "unexpected." He did not hire writers who had previous experience with writing cartoons, instead hiring writers who worked outside of animation, including improv actors and comic artists. He said that story concepts that "ever smacked close to some formula idea that we had all seen before" received rejection.
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, a storyboard writer, says that writers of Rocko's Modern Life targeted children and adults. He cites Rocky and Bullwinkle as an example of another series that contains references undecipherable by children and understood by adults. Aiming for a similar goal, Marsh described the process as "a hard job." According to him, when censors questioned proposed material, sometimes the team disagreed with the opinions of the censors and sometimes the team agreed with the rationale of the censors. He says that "many people" told him that the team "succeeded in this endevour" and that "many parents I know really enjoyed watching the show with their kids for just this reason."  John Pacenti said the series "seems very much aimed at adults" "for a children's' cartoon." Marsh believes that the material written by Doug Lawrence stands as an example of a "unique sense of humor." For instance, Marsh credits Lawrence with the "pineapple references" adding that Lawrence believed that pineapples seemed humorous. 
Murray's animation lacked parallel lines and featured many crooked doors. In an interview he stated that his design style contributed to the show's "Wonky bent feel."  Jean Prescott of The Sun Herald described the series as "squash-and-stretch." A 1993 Houston Chronicle article described the series's setting as having a "reality that is "squashed and stretched" into a twisted version of real life." The background staff hand-painted backgrounds with Dr. Martin Dyes  , while each episode title card consisted of an original painting. Linda Simensky said that she asked the creators of Rocko's Modern Life about why the women in the series were drawn to be "top-heavy," the creators told her that they believed that drawing women "the traditional way" was easier. Simensky described the creators as "talented guys" who formed "a boy's club" and added that "we pushed them to be funny, but a lot of their women are stereotypical."
There are 3 versions of the Rocko's Modern Life theme song. The first and original version can be heard playing throughout season one and was composed by Pat Irwin, who also composed the series' background music. The second version of the theme song was a slightly remixed version of the first and was only used during episodes 8 and 9 of season one. One of the changes included high pitched voices added to the chorus. The third version of the theme song was performed by Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider from The B-52's. They performed the Rocko's Modern Life theme song from Season 2 onwards.
At first Murray wanted Paul Sumares to perform the theme song since Sumares created most of the music found in My Dog Zero. Murray wanted the same style in My Dog Zero exhibited in Rocko's Modern Life. Nickelodeon wanted a person with more experience. According to Sumares, believing for the request to be a long shot, Murray asked for Danny Elfman and felt stunned when Nickelodeon decided to honor his request by asking Elfman to perform. According to Murray, Elfman, his first choice, was booked. Therefore he chose the B-52's, his second choice. According to Sumares Murray decided to use the B-52's instead of Elfman. Murray states that the difference between the stories "could just be a recollection conflict, because Paul is a brilliant amazing guy." Murray also sought Alan Silvestri. According to Sumares Viacom did not want to use Silvestri as the organization wanted a band "slightly older kids could identify with." 
The plot follows life of a wallaby, Rocko, who has emigrated to America from Australia. In America, he is faced with various problems and challenges involving his pals who try to teach him what it means to be a good friend. There are sexual innuendos such as references to body parts including nipples, breasts, testicles and others.Many of the locations in the television show Rocko's Modern Life have the letter "O" for example O-Town and Conglom-O. When asked about the use of "O" in his show Murray said,
The plot locations included the following:
See main article: Characters in Rocko's Modern Life. All the characters in the Rocko's Modern Life series are animals and there are a multitude. Murray said that he matched personalities of his characters to the various animals in the series to form a "social caricature". Rocko, the protagonist, is a wallaby who encounters various dilemmas and situations regarding otherwise mundane aspects of life. His best friend Heffer Wolfe is fat and enthusiastic while Filburt often feels uncomfortable or disturbed.
Creator, Executive Producer, Writer, Story Editor (Season 1 - 3)
Producer, Storyboard Director, Writer, Creative Director
Storyboard Artist, Writer
Storyboard Director, Writer
Storyboard Director, Writer
Storyboard Director, Writer
Story Editor (on Season 4 only)
Animation Timer, animation director
On September 19, 1993, the series's first night of airing, it received a 3.0 in ratings. By January 31, 1994 the series's audience grew by 65%.
Ted Drozdowski of The Boston Phoenix stated in the "Eye pleasers" article that he enjoyed Rocko's Modern Life because of "jovial excitement," "good-hearted outrage," "humanity," and "pushy animated characterizations."
A music video, called "Well, I'm Just a Wallaby" by Lloyd Cole was made for Nickelodeon.
Timothy J. Borquez, Patrick Foley, Michael Giesler, Michael A. Gollorn, William B. Griggs, Tom Jeager, Gregory LaPlante, Timothy Mertens, and Kenneth Young of Rocko's Modern Life received a 1993 Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing."
George Maestri was nominated for a CableACE Award for his Rocko's Modern Life writing. 
The series won an award as part of the Environmental Media Awards in 1996.
Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described the series as "a witless rip-off of Ren & Stimpy: mucus jokes without the redeeming surrealism or contempt for authority." Tucker rated the series "D."
Common Sense Media reviewer Andrea Graham, whose review is posted on Go.com, describes Rocko's Modern Life as "somewhat edgy" and gave the series four out of five stars. Graham tells parents to watch for "sexual innuendos." 
In 1994 the series aired on MTV.
In Malaysia Rocko's Modern Life aired in MetroVision around 1996. In the early 2000s Nickelodeon Japan marketed the show along with The Ren and Stimpy Show. In Australia, it was shown on ABC Kids.
Fans have requested that Nickelodeon produce a DVD collection of the series for years. In 2008 Nickelodeon partnered with Amazon.com to allow new and old programming to be made available on DVD through CreateSpace. As part of the deal Amazon.com is responsible for producing the discs (on one time burnable media) on-demand as well as cover and disc art. Two DVDs were released on September 16, 2008. 
Prior to the official DVD releases, Murray stated that he has not heard of any plans for a DVD release and that there are several illegal DVD releases of the series sold on eBay. He commented, "But at least someone is trying to give Rocko fans what they want. Because Nickelodeon sure isn't doing it."  Murray has been working with his legal team to regain the rights, so that an official DVD can be released.
The official home video release of the series in the United States was in 1995, when selected episodes were released on VHS by Sony Wonder. Paramount Home Entertainment later re-released the episodes in 1997 and 1998. 
Select episodes from the first season of the show have been released on iTunes as part of the Nick Rewind releases. iTunes has a "Best of Vol. 1" collection of 6 Rocko episodes
|DVD name||Release date||Discs||Episodes||Cover art|
|September 16, 2008||2||Disc-1|
Episode 9a - Carnival Knowledge
Episode 9b - Sand In The Navel
Episode 8a - A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic
Episode 8b - Canned
Episode 11a - Rocko's Happy Sack
Episode 11b - Flu-in-u-enza
Episode 12a - Who's For Dinner
Episode 12b - Love Spanked
Episode 13a - Clean Lovin
Episode 13b - Unbalanced Load
Episode 2a - Leap Frogs
Episode 2b - Bedfellows
|September 16, 2008||2||Disc-1|
Episode 1a - No Pain, No Gain
Episode 1b - Who Gives A Buck?
Episode 3a - Jet Stream
Episode 3b - Dirty Dog
Episode 4a - Keeping Up with the Bigheads
Episode 4b - Skid Marks
Episode 6a - The Good, The Bad, and the Wallaby
Episode 6b - Trash-O-Madness
Episode 5a - Power Trip
Episode 5b - To Heck and Back
Episode 7a - Spitballs
Episode 7b - Popcorn Pandemonium
Episode 10a - Cabin Fever
Episode 10b - Rinse And Spit
Bonus features a Rocko's Modern Life music video.
Together, these two DVD releases contain the complete first season.
See main article: Rocko's Modern Life media and release information. During Tom DeFalco's Editor-in-Chief career, Marvel Comics produced a seven-issue comic book series based on the television series. Marvel published the series from June 1994 to December 1994 with monthly releases.
Nickelodeon approached Marvel, asking the company to produce comic book series for Rocko's Modern Life and Ren and Stimpy. Marvel purchased the license for Rocko from Nickelodeon. The staff created the comics, and Susan Luposniak, a Nickelodeon employee , examined the comics before they were released.  Joe Murray said in a December 2, 2008 blog entry that he drew some of the pages in the comic book series.
The comics contain stories not seen in the television show. In addition, the comic book series omits some television show characters and places, while some original places and characters appear in the comics. John "Lewie" Lewandowski wrote all of the stories except for one; Joey Cavalieri wrote "Beaten by a Club," the second story of Issue #4.
Troy Little, a resident of Monroe, Oregon, wrote to Marvel requesting that the title for the comic's letters column should be "That's Life." In Issue 3, published in August 1994, the editors decided to use the title for the comic's "Letters to the Editor" section.  In Issue 5, published in October 1994, the editors stated that they still received suggestions for the title for the comic even though the editors had decided on using "That's Life" by Issue 3.
By January 31, 1994 Nickelodeon received ten "licensing partners" for merchandise for the series. Hardee's distributed Rocko toys. Viacom New Media released one game based on the show, , in the United States for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In addition, Nickelodeon 3-D Movie Maker features various characters from the show. Rocko also appeared in the game . Nick.com created two free online games featuring Rocko, using Shockwave Flash (which requires the Shockwave plugin). 
In the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s  Nickelodeon used Rocko's Modern Life characters in several short comics collected under the title "A Byte-Size Online Safety Guide" explaining netiquette, internet security, and internet safety to readers of Nick.com.