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Fully aware that I'll probably earn the ire of dozens of nostalgic fans of the original — this is good stuff!
I'll admit that I didn't grow up with the original 1960s show, and that I've only seen a handful of episodes (plus the 2000 movie that, while by no means a classic, didn't deserve all the bile it got from the critics), but as far as I can tell, this is very close in tone and spirit to the original classic. Just updated and modernised a little for a 2018 young audience.
The original Rocky & Bullwinkle was a clever and witty, but extremely poorly animated cartoon, where the very low animation budget meant for some spectacularly crappy animation and the saving grace being that the scripts, music and voices were genuinely good, with some really sharp satires on various cultural and societal absurdities. It's viewed as a groundbreaking achievement for TV cartoons and went on to inspire a lot of animation pioneers.
The new cartoon, funded by Amazon, is a lot slicker and more high-budget. The animation here is a whole lot better, but while designs and looks have been updated slightly (Rocky in particular looks very different), it still pays homage to the simple UPA style of the original. Rocky and Bullwinkle are pretty much the same as ever... A little redesigned, a little livelier and a little more prone to huge slapstick scenes, but fundamentally they remain true to their classic selves. The main difference seems to be that in the old show about half of Rocky's dialogue were obvious set-ups for Bullwinkle's punchlines, but this doesn't happen nearly as often in the new show; there's a lot more back-and-forth snappy banter between the two. And you of course have the villainous duo of Boris and Natasha whose villainous missions constantly seems to have them cross paths with the moose and squirrel.
I've read a lot of reviews and opinions on this show, and predictably there's a whole slew of negativity here. "This new show sucks," "this new show is just a toned-down Ren & Stimpy," "this new show didn't need to exist. "
For that last one I'm just kind of scratching my head. Of course it doesn't need to exist. It's a cartoon! Much as I love cartoons, they are not and have never been a fundamental necessity! The old Rocky & Bullwinkle didn't need to exist either; life and society would have gone on just fine without it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a good and enjoyable cartoon... and even though this new cartoon doesn't need to exist, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy it now that it does.
Granted, the new Rocky and Bullwinkle is by no means as groundbreaking as the original was, and will probably not go down in animation history as the original have. But you know? As an extension and update of the original, it's more than good enough. It's funny, it's well-written, and it's a great platform to introduce younger viewers to some classic cartoon characters. Clear thumbs-up from me!
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