Throwback Thursday: Rocko’s Modern Life “The Emperor’s New Joe”

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  Spoilers Below

What’s happenin’, Blabberfans? Paulie Von Doom jumping into the TARDIS and setting his sights on another classic 90’s cartoon from those knuckleheads over at Nickelodeon. This week we’re heading to O-Town (and no, I don’t mean that shitty boy band,) to pay a visit to Rocko and his pals.

Rocko’s Modern Life came out when Nickelodeon was riding the wave of awesome that eventually developed into a tsunami of mediocrity as the years went by. Unfortunately, it seemed like Cartoon Network’s original line up sounded the death knell for anything even remotely decent to come out of Nick Studios (try as he might, not even the Immortal Marc Summers couldn’t help!) but we at least got a few really great toons and Rocko just happens to be one of them.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 90’s, Rocko’s Modern Life tells the story of a simple Wallaby who comes to America from Australia to lead a simple, adult, and modern life. Of course, he has to contend with his horrible neighbors, the amphibious BigHeads, his neurotic friend Philburt the Turtle, and his best pal, Heffer Wolf (a steer raised by a family of wolves because half of this show makes no sense and that’s the beauty of it,) add to this his plucky dog Spunky and you have yourself a double thick nostalgia milkshake.

I chose the episode entitled “The Emperor’s New Joe” because it featured The Chameleon Brothers, the two guys who sound eerily like Bronson Pinchot’s character in Beverly Hill’s Cop. Rocko discovers a trendy new coffeehouse (in the 90’s, coffee shops were all the rage,) and tries a cup of coffee. Cue 90’s style gross-out site gag and we get right down to the plot.

You see, the Chameleon brothers lived in a country called Balzac (which, I know, sounds like “ball-sack”. The creators of Rocko’s Modern life know, too. They did this kind of shit on purpose,) which was ruled by a Dictator who needed to stay in touch with the latest trends. When he discovers coffee is all the rage, he demands the Brother’s figure out how to get some. When none is to be found he throws them in a dungeon where a bearded Philbert (show regulars portray citizens of Balzac, with Heffer filling the shoes of the dictator,) is washing the dictator’s socks. When he gets a break he puts the dirty sock water in a coffee pot, heats it up, and voila! The brothers have a way out of prison.

Unbeknownst to their king, who has never had coffee before; they serve him the dirty sock water. He declares it hip and trendy and the brother’s are able to escape to America. They ask Rocko if he’d like another cup of the vile swill, but Rocko refuses. Claiming it his patriotic right and duty not to cave into peer pressure. He spouts some inspiring rhetoric and even quotes Thomas Jefferson. The mob of hipsters at the coffeehouse disapproves and throws him out. With that the episode ends.

While this show is one of my favorites of all time, it always seemed to be competing with its counterpart, Ren and Stimpy. It seemed like it was always trying to outdo the Cat and Dog show with over the top gross-out gags that often times were unnecessary. However where Rocko’s Modern Life shines is in its use of jokes that deliberately go over the heads of children, like the fast food restaurant “Chokey Chicken.”

Though there are better episodes out there, several in fact, this one showcased the ancillary characters and the oblong, colorful animation the show did so well. It’s this style of animation that drew us in as kids and the gross out gags that sealed the deal (when they were done right.)

I’m a 90’s kid. I grew up with this show and I can’t say too many bad things about it, but this episode fell flat which is why I rate it a measly

4 out of 10.

Till next time!

P Von D.