I stopped watching cartoons when I was about 11. That changed a couple of years later when I first saw “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends”. I don’t know whether the typical cartoon audience, young children, ever “got” Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I sure did. It wasn’t like I waited and planned my morning around it (Game of Thrones or The Sopranos, anyone?), but I tried never to miss an episode because I knew for sure I would laugh myself silly if I did manage to watch.
Over the years, I often watched reruns. In the mid-80’s I lived for a time with friends. This was just after I returned to the Bay Area after living and working in Indiana, teaching in an adult education Labor Studies program at Indiana University. I didn’t have a job and my friends, who had extra space, provided a home. I was a sort of au pair. Both my friends worked, and they had 8-year-old and 6-year-old boys.
I cooked dinner a few times a week, I sometimes picked the boys up after school, babysat them from time to time, kicked around a soccer ball with them, and whatever other help my friends needed. One of the things I did with the boys was watch Rocky and Bullwinkle reruns on Saturday mornings. The boys dug it as much as I did.
For those of you who never watched it, or don’t remember much about Rocky and Bullwinkle, here’s a brief rundown: Rocky, formally Rocket J Squirrel, is a flying squirrel who wears an aviator cap and goggles. Bullwinkle, formally Bullwinkle J Moose, is a, wait for it, Moose, and not a smart moose at that. Their nemeses are Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, spies for Peerless Leader, dictator of Pottsylvania.
The show itself was kind of like an old-school variety show. There were two “episodes” of Rocky and Bullwinkle per show, each ending in a cliffhanger. Then there was an episode of Dudley Do-right, a totally inept Mountie and his horse, who is much smarter than Dudley. The villain is Snidely Whiplash and Dudley’s true love is Nell, who also is a lot smarter than Dudley. Then there’s Mr. Peabody (a dog) and Sherman (his boy), who did very revised history lessons.
Fractured fairy tales were fractured fairy tales, i.e. the prince doesn’t wake Sleeping Beauty; instead, he builds a theme park, “Sleeping Beautyland”, around her. Finally, there was the Bullwinkle segment, Mr. Know It All, in which the Moose proved he knew nothing.
I hadn’t seen Rocky and Bullwinkle for maybe 30 years. And I never thought about it, didn’t miss not seeing its reruns on television. So, two years ago I got a big pleasant surprise when I learned that Prime Video (Amazon’s streaming service) had rebooted the show and it was available on their app.
The next time I was responsible for granddaughter care was a Friday night, the night when they would have a sleepover with their Grandmother and me. It was also movie night when we all watched a movie chosen by one of the girls. Thanks to the pandemic, this practice has been suspended. However, that Friday I convinced them that we should watch a couple of Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes to see if they liked them. We never got to watch a movie. They insisted on binging the whole season. That was fine with me.
The reboot was pretty good, but for an old grandfather, rooted in the past, I missed the old animation and voices (although close, it wasn’t exactly the same) and it was in color (somehow black and white felt better to me) and it didn’t have Mr. Peabody and Sherman, or Dudley Do-right, or Fractured Fairy tale. However, it was R and B and therefore lots o’ laughs. And best of all, my granddaughters loved it, so we got to talk about what we liked most about it.
I also got to tell them about the original, with Mr. Peabody and Sherman et. al. They expressed some interest in seeing the earlier version, so I looked to see if I could stream it and it’s not available to stream and the DVDs are pretty expensive, I took a pass.
About a year later, season 2 of the reboot became available. Once again, we had a Rocky and Bullwinkle binge-fest. Many laughs shared between grandparents and granddaughters. It was another opportunity for me to share something with my granddaughters that had been a lot of fun for me when I was young; and for them to react to it, and share their reactions with me.
Folks who study aging say that intergenerational connections can be an important part of healthy aging, and I can say with assurance that I’ve got this thing covered. Plus there are two more “Rocky and Bullwinkle” fans in the family.
– Edward from McMinnville, Oregon, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
Edward writes for FAR and is also a customer. He is 73-year-old, born and raised in and around New York City. After college and a little graduate school, he took Horace Greeley’s advice and went west. Edward lived in several cities throughout California and currently resides in Oregon. He practiced law for a few years as part of a law collective doing what they called “people’s law,” but spent most of his career working as an internal organizer for the unions.
When Edward’s career ended with the unions, he was determined to become an advocate for older adults. He enrolled at Portland Community College studying Gerontology. He learned a lot about aging and how it applied to his own life experiences and my own aging process. Much of Edward’s writing is related to what he learned in his Gerontology studies.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (FAR) LLC