Rocket Power was a popular Nickelodeon cartoon that ran from 1999 to 2004, produced by Klasky-Csupo (the same people who made Rugrats and As Told by Ginger), and the 11th show in the Nicktoons line-up. It focused on the (mis)adventures of a foursome of kids living in Ocean Shores, CA. The title refers to brother and sister duo Otto and Reggie Rocket, ostensibly the more "main" of the core cast of four. The other two included Otto's friend Maurice "Twister" Rodriguez, and new kid Sam "Squid" Dullard.The show's hook was that the four main characters were all into extreme sports, and nearly every episode featured some such activity at the center of the episode's events. Even if it wasn't the core of the plot, each episode would generally begin with the kids surfing, or hanging out at the local skate park, Madtown. Over the course of the series, everything from relatively tame sports such as roller hockey to extreme and obscure sports like zorb balling were featured in the show.Other than the main four, other regular characters included Otto and Reggie's dad, Ray, who owned a restaurant on the Ocean Shores pier; his partner Tito, a native Hawaiian who spoke with the requisite accent and was fond of spouting nonsensical proverbs, and Twister's older brother, Lars, who was often seen picking on the main characters. Also included were the Rockets' next-door neighbors, the Stimpletons; Madtown's owner, cool Jamaican dude Conroy; and various other kids the same age as the main characters.
Adults Are Useless: Averted. Unlike many shows from the era, the adults in authority tend to be very helpful when the kids go to them and their rules are there for a reason rather than just arbitrary fun killing to drive a plot. Unfortunately, the kids often learn this second part the hard way. Otto especially.
Ambiguously Brown: Otto and Reggie Rocket. They're not white, but their dad seems to be...(although he is very tanned, which makes sense).
They're half Hawaiian/Polynesian and half white.
Meanwhile in the TV movie, The McGilles are both Ambiguously Brown. It's easy to assume they're possibly Australian or of Maori descent.
Brilliant, but Lazy: Twister. An effective Hockey Team Captain, but hates handling the pressure.
Broken Aesop: While the show rarely shows the gang's more reckless adventures as justified, they almost always get off with light (or sometimes no) punishment. There's even an episode where Ray leaves Otto at the Stimpletons' house after Otto fails a class, only to renege almost immediately.
Character Development: Mostly Sam, who begins as fairly clumsy and awkward but grows into a competent athlete, even if he doesn't quite approach Otto.
It also helps that other people become an even bigger nerd than he is and in contrast make him look even better; but you can still see the growth. Not to mention, Sam actually learns how to surf, and part of the problem is revealed to be an equipment mismatch.
Also shows up in "Race Across New Zealand" where another competitor is encouraged to cheat by his dad but eventually has his conscience catch up with him and reveals how he cheated...which turns out to be how his father cheated against Raymundo when the 2 were kids. Both wins are reversed and awarded to the proper winners (Raymundo and Reggie).
Continuity Nod: In the episode "Mr. B Is In The House," Conroy says in his introduction that he went to grad school for his teaching degree while the "skate rat" students were leaving their handprints at Madtown. This was a reference to the episode "Say Hello To Cement Head" where Twister left his handprints (and headprint) on Madtown's new vert ramp.
There is also a part in which Tito says that in a flashback he "stepped on a piece of lava so hot" he lost a hopscotch championship to his cousin. How on earth was he still walking if he stepped on a piece of lava?!
Didn't Think This Through: Often the reason most of the Rocket Gang's schemes or attempts to clean up said schemes go bad. One standout example comes in "Pool's Out Forever", where, thanks to Otto's big mouth, Eddie's new pool is getting wrecked by an all-out "empty pool" skate party. Sam manages to get all the party-goers to leave by announcing that the Shore Shack is giving away free ice cream and french fries. It works, except...
Sam: It worked...just call me Sam, the super genius.
Disabled Means Helpless: In one episode, Reggie meets a snowboarder who has a metal leg. Feeling sorry for her, both Reggie decides to let her win. However, she gets a What the Hell, Hero? from her dad and friends, and the snowboarder calls out Reggie on the way she treated her and wanted to be treated normally. Reggie does so by being serious and beating the snowboarder in a race which earns the latter's respect.
Possibly even worse than just feeling sorry for the girl, Reggie admits that she thought a disabled snowboarder winning a race would make a cool story for her magazine.
Also applicable to Reggie. NO ONE calls her by her real name, Regina, not even her father. In fact, aside from the Chickification incident cited above, no one has ever spoken or heard of it before or since.
In one episode, The Rhino blushes in embarrassment when Raymundo calls him by his real first name, Walter.
Embarrassing Nickname: Other than his first name, an even bigger Berserk Button for Twister is "Squid" which was his nickname before Sam came. Averted with Sam who was happy to have a nickname other than "Dink".
Expy: The main cast is suspiciously similar to that of Rugrats: Compare Phil, Lil, Tommy, and Chuckie. "Rugrats eXtreme Sports Anyone"?
Extreme Sport Excuse Plot: The entire series was an attempt to cash in on the extreme sports culture of the 90's and early 2000's.
Flanderization: Twister. Watch him in the first couple of episodes where he's merely a bit slow. However later on, he's almost comedically stupid.
Otto as well, who increasingly became more self absorbed and obnoxious.
An in-universe example with the Super Squid game where Sam of course makes fun of his friends. However, he doesn't make as much fun of Reggie.
Fictional Counterpart: Ocean Shores is obviously Santa Monica, down to the iconic pier. Oddly, at one point in the series the main cast travels to Malibu for a surfing trip, and they use the real life place name.
Free-Range Children: The late elementary school cast wanders about Ocean Shores by themselves frequently. Although Ray is pretty laid back. Sam's mother is more fussy, but generally, Sam always tags along. (One episode actually does show Sam's mother forbidding him to go to a secret spot because she doesn't know where he is.)
However, it's implied they only seem to walk around certain parts of the town.
Funny Background Event: The episodes in which the story is told through interviews on camera or the media is shown. Throughout the episode of a documentary on Otto "Selling out", you can spot all sorts of weird events such as Ray emptying trash on the ground, a whale jumping out of the blader bowl, and an empty skateboard flying out. There was also another funny one where the news anchor stalled for time... and a UFO sucks up a whale and flies off.
And occasionally, you can see people falling in the background.
A very subtle yet funny background event happens in one episode. Ray is giving his kids a lecture and you see a fish trophy hanging on the wall behind Ray. Sometime in the middle of the scene, the fish blinks.
Gang Of Bullies: Twister's older brother, Lars, is usually seen with two (later three) lackies.
Hilarious in Hindsight: One episode had Sam attempting to shed his token geek persona and become as "cool" as his friends, including trying to adopt their bizarre slang. This led to a joke where he called someone's skateboard trick "sick", with "sick" meaning, in-universe, gross or ugly. A few years later, the word has come to be used in exactly the way Sam was trying to use it.
Hyperventilation Bag: In one episode, Sam uses one of these when he imagines the thought of his ski lift ticket posted on the Wall of Shame.
Hypocritical Humor: When Twister loses his hat, Ray comments he's never seen anyone get worked up over losing a hat...and then says "WHOA!" as he almost drops his own hat he's almost never seen without.
Instant Expert: Sam fits in right away as a practical "stonewall" goalie for The Rocket gang, but it's totally subverted when it comes to surfing, skateboarding and many other extreme sports, as it either takes Sam finding the right equipment or simply Level Grinding over three seasons to the point where he can at least keep up with the others.
Insult Backfire: Squid was used to identify the new kid on the block and originally belonged to Twister, who hated it. When Sam arrived they gave him the squid nickname and he was generally pleased to have a nickname at all.
Mostly a nickname that wasn't "Dink".
Given that squids are extremely powerful and efficient predators, (to the point of some taking on sharks) it's somewhat bizarre that this is even used as an insult in the first place.
Reggie explained it was short for "squirrelly new kid".
Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: In "Reggie: The Movie", Reggie goes to see a horror movie called "Sharkenstein's Revenge" that scares her so badly that she blows a big surfing competition the next day. In this case, her father actually gave her permission to see the movie if she thought she could handle it and, although she didn't want to see it, she was goaded into it by her friends calling her chicken.
Last-Second Word Swap: In one episode, Otto sponsored a rival snowboard company, Sam still cheered "Go, Otto!" When Reggie gave him a disapproving look, he added "'s competition! Go Otto's competition!"
Let me get this straight. Sam's not sick cause he's always sick and we're sick cause we're never sick?!? That's sick!(rim shot)
Level Grinding: Aside from hockey and (mostly) surfing, it took three seasons for Sam to steadily improve to the point where he's able to keep up with the rest of the gang. Compare "Pool's Out Forever", where he couldn't even skate out of the bowl to "The Big Day", where he placed in the final five alongside Twister and Otto in the ZGZ tournament.
Meaningful Name: "Twister" and the last name "Rocket" refer to their love of extreme sports; Sam's last name, "Dullard," is initially used to identify him as a more intellectually inclined character.
OOC Is Serious Business: Most times, when someone unintentionally shows up Otto or proves themselves to better at something that he is, his ego will deny it outright before grudgingly accepting it; this makes it all the more unusual in "Powergirl Surfers" when he's paired up against Trish in an impromptu surfing challenge and doesn't even hesitate to say (in a squeaky voice) that she's really good.
Papa Wolf: Raymundo's a pretty easygoing guy, but put his kids at risk like "The Rhino" did and all bets are off:
Pet the Dog: Lars is a complete asshole, but he does care for his brother and doesn't want him to be seriously hurt. Likewise, the sandcastle episode has him laugh at Twister when he mentions that the tide is going to ruin their sandcastle. However, at the end of the episode, he and his squad arrive and help hold up the surfboard to block the water from washing away the sandcastle.
Merv Stimpleton is mostly shown as a crotchety old man. However, on two instances, he helps the kids out ("Violet's Violet") and in Reggie's Big Beach break, does warm up to the teens after he politely asks them to leave and they comply, and thank him for being a good host. (Heck, he warms up enough to throw a concluding party.)
Poor Communication Kills: A non-violent example in "The Big Day" where Noelani and Raymundo's wedding is nearly derailed after Noelani mistakenly thinks Otto and Reggie don't want her to be their new step-mom after overhearing the siblings' heated conversation at the rehearsal party. In actuality, Otto was merely parroting Reggie's earlier words about her hesitance in accepting Noelani as their new mom and (after Noelani walks away) Reggie admits she was nervous about it, but really likes Noelani and is more than willing to accept her as a Rocket.
Rules Lawyer: During his stint as the school's "Safety Patrol", Sam manages to save the gang's permanent records (after they get caught playing illegal street hockey on school grounds) by pointing out that although the safety handbook outlaws certain sport activities, street hockey is conspicuously absent.
Shout-Out: There's a secret stealth-shout out in the episode "After Shocked".
"Move along folks, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
Sequential Symptom Syndrome: Reggie and Otto get the "Fiji flu" from Sam. The doctor describes a few of the symptoms being a high-pitched voice and irritability. As expected, they undergo both.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Child Genius Oliver Van Rossum for Sammy, but really only pertaining to contests like sandcastle building or robot battling. Other than that, Oliver gets along well with the gang and even tries out skating once in a while.
Small Name, Big Ego: The obnoxious pro surfer "The Rhino," aka Walter, whom Otto idolizes and Ray hates.
Ray: Easy on the big story, *Walter*. Got it?
Rhino: (embarrassed) Come on Ray, Rhino! Not Walter…
Otto himself can be this at times, as when he enters a professional surf contest just after his 11th birthday.
At least after a few seasons they stopped cutting away to a tie-dye screen with squiggly words repeating the 90's slang they shout. That is they stopped doing it as much.
And it wasn't just slang words that popped up on screen, it could often be anything shocking (like "PICKLED FEET?" in "Happy Luau to You-Au," "FIJI FLU!" in "Typhloid Sam," even "AAAAAAAH!" when Sam and Otto scream in "Snow Day.")
Unreliable Narrator: Ray in some of his flashbacks is actually exaggerating for the sake of getting his point across. Tito might have done the same, too, since he apparently stepped on a piece of lava and survived.
Unusual Euphemism: The main cast has an entire vocabulary of slang terms, including "shoobie" (refering to tourists who wear socks with their flip-flops, or shoes on the beach), "squid" (slang for new guy; Sam is called this almost universally in the first few episodes), and lots of generic skater slang.
To bring up Tito's "Hopscotch" incident again...also invoked. The kids clearly look at him skeptically since Tito would be lucky to be alive if he stepped on a piece of lava. (And even luckier still to have two legs.)
Then again, it depends on what kind of composition of the lava was and on whether or not is was cooling. The lava Tito could have walked on was pillow lava or lava that was cooling.