Rocko’s Modern Life was a cartoon whose presence I merely tolerated. The 4 o’clock Ninja Turtles slot had long since been dissolved and non-commercial television had become the sole bastion of after-school cartooning. I was completely at their programming mercy – it was either the news, or them, and by extension, Rocko’s Modern Life. But watch it I did – and while I didn’t outright despise it, it certainly did nothing to raise my heart rate, or stifle my yawning.
Maybe this was the point, but the sheer mundanity that underscores Rocko’s [modern] life filled me with existential terror. Perhaps to American children, being a wallaby in itself was surreal enough, but to this Aussie kid, wallabies were just part of the furniture, and the show seemed altogether un-netherworldly. It was depressing to observe the mediocrity of Rocko’s life and that of his friends. His best friend Heffer was an air-wasting dole bludger.
His friend Filburt was a socially-retarded loser. Rocko was the most responsible out of the lot of them and even he operated at the bare minimum. Probably mission accomplished, as far as the show’s creators were concerned, who no doubt sought to make pointed observations on the mediocrity of ‘modern life’ through the medium of cartoon. But that doesn’t make the show any more enjoyable. I mean, I can appreciate how someone (like Travis) could like it, but I want my cartoons to be an escape from my mundane life, not a study of it.
(When I found that the creator’s wife committed suicide, I was not surprised. That’s not a judgement of him as a husband or a person; just a possible explanation of the mood pervading the show.)
But none of this compares to the horror that is the videogame adaptation. The entire game is an escort mission. Let that sink in for a moment. You are Rocko, and you must walk your dog Spunky through four unremarkable levels – featuring none of the warped architecture that characterised the cartoon – clearing mundane articles from his path, and punching/kicking enemies that respawn every time you go back to find your stupid dog. There’s a word for that: ANNOYING.
From where I’m sitting, there’s only one clear positive outcome of this game’s existence:
Watching a pelican get punched in the face.