Bill Larkin | Lyndhurst, NJ, United States | 09/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sony Wonder, Bullwinkle Studios and Ward Productions continue the Rocky & Bullwinkle Series with this release of the "3rd Season". Calling it "Rocky & Bullwinkle and Friends" the 4-DVD set holds a total of 726 minutes of show content and 12 minutes of "Special Features".
As before, the restoration is the best applied to these classic cartoons yet. Although, sadly, it still isn't on par with the restorations done with the Looney Tunes series currently being released. However, us die-hard fans have waited a long time for this, so I won't complain too loud.
Here's what awaits you:
26 episodes of "Missouri Mish Mash" (with Gidney & Cloyd)
18 episodes of "Lazy Jay Ranch" (with Lazy Jay, of course)
8 episodes of "The Three Moosketeers" (with King Wuncelaus, Francois Villian, Athos, and Philippe Mignon)
14 episodes of "Topsy Turvy World" (with Captain Peachfuzz)
Those no-goodnicks, Boris and Natasha, appear in all but "The Three Moosketeers".
Also, spaced out between the episodes are Aesop and Son (11); Bullwinkle's Corner (20); Peabody (22); Fractured Fairy Tales (22); Mr. Know-It-All (13); and Dudley Do-Right (11).
The "Special Features" are less than exciting. The best of them is the "Live Bullwinkle Puppet Clips". This is a collection from the 1961 Bullwinkle Show in where Bill Scott voices a puppet that intros the cartoons. It includes the one occasion where Bullwinkle instructs the kids to "...pull the knobs off your TV sets. That way, we'll be sure to be with you next week." The remaining two "Special Features" include a "Sneak Peek at Season 4" (good news....more are coming!) that is an episode from "Painting Theft", which will appear on the next set. Lastly, the "Best of Bullwinkle Follies" is nothing more than a quick edit of a bunch of scenes from Season 3 (can you say "filler"?). It would appear they are running out of material for the "Special Features". If Sony wants an idea for the next release, how about the opening and closing of the "Bullwinkle Show"? Long live "Ponsoby Britt" !
Sony got the message about the cheap packaging on the last set and this set is back to a "fold-open" slipcase design that holds the single-sided DVD's better.
These are classics and belong in your collection."
May the Pun be with You
Mark Baker | Santa Clarita, CA United States | 01/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The puns are punnier and the stories are zanier as Rocky and Bullwinkle enter their fun filled third season. It consists of 33 episodes with everyone's favorite animated moose and squirrel as well as their friends and enemies.
The central focus of the show is the continuing exploits of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Each episode features two segments of the current serialized story, and there are four of them this time around.
Missouri Mish Mash finds Bullwinkle and Rocky caught in the middle of a feud being run by Boris Badenov, their arch nemesis. However, when Bullwinkle finds a special hat, things really start to get interesting.
Lazy Jay Ranch finds our heroes moving to Wyoming after they buy a ranch. Turns out it's a worm ranch, and Boris has plans of his own for those worms.
The Three Moosketeers brings our heroes to the country of Applesauce Lorraine after the rightful king is replaced by the scheming Francois Villain. (Something tells me he's a bad guy.) Of interest, this is the first Rocky and Bullwinkle story to not feature Boris and his sidekick Natasha Fatale.
Topsy Turvy World finds the world's axis shifting. With the new North Pole on the Equator, it's up to Rocky and Bullwinkle to right the world before Boris gives Santa a bad name.
Of course, each episode also includes several special features. Either a Fractured Fairy Tale or an Aesop and Son (a fable like you've never heard before), Bullwinkle's Corner (poetry and nursery rhymes for laughs) or Mr. Know-it-All (Bullwinkle shows us how NOT to do something), and Peabody's Improbably History (a dog makes sure history goes as recorded) or Dudley Do-Right (a spoof of melodramas set in Canada.)
These shows are absolutely hysterical, if you can stand a good pun. The writers seem to be at the top of their game, with the puns coming so fast you just might miss one. It breaks all the rules of TV with the characters often talking directly to the audience or making references to their TV show, but it only adds to the laughter. While kids will enjoy watching, it's the adults that will get the word play and the now dated historical references.
Of course, being an animated show from the 60's means the animation isn't up to today's standards. Still, it does a good job of getting the story across and holds up to some of today's TV animation.
I was disappointed to recognize many of the Bullwinkle's Corner and Mr. Know-it-All segments this time around. They are recycled from earlier seasons. I don't know why this is, but I hope the fourth season contains new material.
This set consists of four single sided DVD's. The picture and sound are great, although the occasional bit of dust or grain does betray the show's age. Unfortunately, Sony still sees a need to include the clear R&B logo in the lower right hand corner for a minute of each segment. I hardly notice, but when I do it is annoying.
The set this time has a circus theme to the box, booklet, and menus. The booklet contains a funny biography of villains Boris and Natasha. Also this time around, the booklet contains information on the Bullwinkle's Corner and Mr. Know-it-All segments, something that's been missing in previous sets.
Extras are light. They include some third season intros from the Bullwinkle puppet (including the infamous one where he tells kids to rip off their TV's knobs so they won't miss the next episode), a preview of the next season, and some "best of" moments from the season.
While the extras aren't a reason to buy the set, the shows themselves are still as punny as they were over forty years ago. Anyone with a fond memory of the show and a strong constitution for puns will love it."
Now Here's Something You'll Really Like
Gord Wilson | Bellingham, WA USA | 12/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although there were some complaints about the packaging of Season Two, Season Three is a Jay Wardian delight; the four discs are well protected, and there's even art inside the slipcase where you can barely see it. For the third season, the writing got both worse and better. Aesop's Fables are a snooze and Fractured Fairy Tales fall flat, but for R and B (Rocky and Bullwinkle, it's a high point. The set starts off with "Missouri Mish Mash" (shows 1-13, 26 episodes) featuring not only moon men Gidney and Cloyd, but the famed Kirward Derby. Then it's "Lazy Jay Ranch" (shows 14-22, 18 episodes), "The Three Mooseketeers (shows 23-26, 8 episodes), and the grand finale, "Topsy Turvy World" with Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz (shows 27-33, 14 episodes).
Aside from the obvious delight of either reliving these episodes or discovering R and B anew, the show is a primer in the art of limited animation, and it's one Matt Groening has obviously been watching. The actual R and B episodes are quite short, as are the rotating supporting shorts "Bullwinkle's Corner," "Mr. Know It All," "Peabody and Sherman," and "Dudley Do Right" along with Aesop and the fairy tales. But the numerous stretches of repeating animation: "Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" "Again?" known as interstices or bumpers, which segue in and out of commercials and station breaks are welcome rather than annoying, and make the show as familiar and comfy as an old chair.
The show is a brilliant coup of limited animation, since these bits are repeated every show. Matt Groening has clearly inherited the mantle of Jay Ward. Look at the long, lavish and looked-forward to openings of The Simpsons and Futurama. The small changes in each episode of the Simpsons on the sofa or the cartoon on the TV on Futurama seem like special bonuses and a gift to viewers, adding to the hand-made feel of the shows.
As many fans know, Homer J. Simpson's middle moniker is in tribute to Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel, and another J., last name of Ward. Nancy Cartwright voicing Bart recalls an earlier female voicing a male character: June Foray as Rocky. Writers from R and B would also go on to work on the next generation of sitcoms: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and Barney Miller.
The one jarring note in this set is its title as "Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends," which appears in the bumpers. These stories originally aired on NBC, as "The Bullwinkle Show," and the order was different, starting with "The Three Mooseketeers" (episodes 157-164), followed by "Lazy Jay Ranch" (episodes 165-182), "Missouri Mish Mash," (episodes 183- 208), and "Topsy Turvy World," (episodes 209- 222). The title later changed when the show went into syndication. That tiny quible aside, Season Three is a tough act to follow. Hopefully some of the Quaker Quisp commercials are coming and more of what R and B fans really like."
All That and Much More
Kevin Wollenweber | Valley Stream, NY | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first thing I noted immediately upon opening my copy of "ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON" is that, unlike "THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON", the disks are not two-sided. I assume this is because of the length of the season, not near as long as the sprawling second season with three lengthy story arcs and four shorter ones. The four lengthy, one-sided disks contain the story arcs, "MISSOURI MISHMASH", "THE GUNS OF AVELONE", "THE LAZY J RANCH" and APPLE SAUCE LORRAINE", the latter being the one story that does *NOT* feature Boris & Natasha trying to do away with "Moose and Squirrel". There is also a fifth story, but I don't recall its title. It revolves (no pun intended) around a kind of polar flip that happens with the earth, in other words, Jay Ward's version of global warming. Cold spots become tropic zones and vice versa, and this first manifests itself with our heroes as they see a blooming flower in the snow there in their hometown of Frostbite Falls. To them, that's a heat wave! Of course, the culprits are Boris and Natasha, who end up playing the evil Santa Claus and his equally hellish "little helper", Alf Elf, who tries giving Bullwinkle a ticking package for Christmas.
I am one of those who absolutely *MUST* have all episodes of this series; so, if there are any folks who like the antics of these early Jay Ward characters enough, these sets are reasonably priced ways to get it. Of course, the same restoration/tampering process exists in this volume as in the other two volumes, but for the most part, this is the closest thing I've seen to fully restored cartoons from this studio. Having lived with the first two volumes with such remasterings and remixings, I still felt that enough of the original feel of the series is here, fully intact, that I can still enjoy it as a fun time capsule. Yes, I wish that the original opening and closing themes were present, but the music that appears here did come out of Jay Ward Studios; so the material is not devoid of the original stamp of the studio's humor. Also, let's be glad that we are seeing the episodes and other cartoons finally played at their proper speeds! When another video company owned the rights to these cartoons, we got condensed versions of the stories and, if you listened carefully, the prints sounded incredibly scratchy and somewhat time-compressed. Now, you're hearing the material as clear as you're probably going to hear it until, perhaps, ten years or so later when someone decides that the Jay Ward material deserves a closer look.
And a closer look is what this material needs. After all, the charm of the Jay Ward Studios is that these comic geniuses could sell you anything, even if the ads might seem a bit condescending! Yes, I could have used a *LOT* more extras--perhaps maybe even stretching these to make the fourth disk the only two-sided disk in the set, filled to capacity with these very memorable TV ads for all kinds of breakfast foods. At one time, I often thought that Jay Ward should have had his own cereal company *AND* that the cereal boxes that sported Jay Ward art and little collectables were well worth saving. I'm sure that someone has this art neatly tucked away, and it, too, would have been worth having as visual extras in the booklets that came with this set. Imagine having a full color reprint of those CAP'N CRUNCH, QUISP or QUAKE comic books that used to come in each specially marked box!! I think I was drawn to the cereals almost entirely because the ads were so incredibly funny!!
If we could coerce 20th Century Fox to relinquish their strangle hold on "CRUSADER RABBIT" or "GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE", we might actually see more of those ads, because I think many of the later cereal ads like QUISP and QUAKE were mostly featured during the same period that "GEORGE" was popular. And who owns "HOPPITY HOOPER"? And does anyone recall whether much about the series was brand new outside of the cliffhanger episodes featuring the main characters? If I recall correctly, various sections of "ROCKY & BULLWINKLE" shows were fit neatly into "HOPPITY HOOPER", but the stories featuring this group of offbeat characters were surreal and funny, sometimes poking fun at then popular shows like "THE TWILIGHT ZONE". Ward constantly peddled pop culture that one could still really enjoy today, as much as we frown at shows today becoming shills for connected products. With Jay Ward creations, you were sometimes laughing too hard to care!!
It is worth noting that this set does have the occasional "rerun"; that is, there are "AESSOP & SON", "DUDLEY DO-RITE" and "PEABODY'S IMPROBABLE HISTORY" episodes previously included on the first two seasons that are also featured among the extras in each show on this set, but never fear--you are also getting those shorts that are exclusive to the season, like the "FRACTURED FAIRY TALE" in which the inhabitants of the small town of Tootsie Lavendeur become irate when bottles of their most cherished wine comes with a cork that will not pop! This forces the king to send out an individual with each bottle who will stand beside the buyer and make a popping sound!! That's as wonderfully warped as the episode on "THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON" in which a magical pipe smoker is able to conjure up various delicious pies from his pipe's bowl, including tobacco leaf pies that make the person eating them disappear--a strange and forward-thinking swipe at tobacco companies perhaps? Even without political ponderings, the stories are odd and very entertaining.
Oh, and one good thing worth noting is that, with this set, you finally get to hear and see the Bullwinkle puppet segment in which the moose suggests to the kiddies out there in the viewing audience that they remove the little knobs found on the front panel of the TV set to insure that nobody changes the channel 'til next week!! This alone is worth the very reasonable price of the set...and there will be a fourth volume, judging by the small amount of special features. It is my guess that this would have to be another two-sided affair that would feature the long-awaited stories, "BUMBLING BROTHERS' CIRCUS", "POTTSYLVANIA CREEPER", "WASSAMADDA U", "THE BANANA FORMULA" (in its entirety, finally), "GOOF GAS" and others in which Bullwinkle seems to become the main hero of the show and Rocky the reluctant tag-along. These of course are the episodes that mark the change of the show's name to "THE BULLWINKLE SHOW", although I think that the Jay Ward estate will keep all things ROCKY & BULLWINKLE under that specific banner, and I am enjoying the fact that the material that they chose as samples for opening credits come from the "ROCKY & HIS FRIENDS" show ("and here is a list of the folks who made this show impossible..."). This is a large step forward, and this is really what Jay Ward fans have been screaming for--obsessive material, including reruns and reworkings as they originally ran each week or daily on syndication, now looking and sounding better than anything we've seen on syndication all those years!! I give it a large plus for that alone!! Keep it up!!"
Lost episodes restored!
Clifford Shafran | College Park, Md. | 09/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the set I was waiting for! There are four Rocky & Bullwinkle adventures that haven't been on TV since the 1970's reruns and haven't been released to video either until now. And this set doesn't disappoint. These adventures are great and contain the same great satire and bad puns that define the series.
Not only that, this set contains several Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody & Shermans, and Aesops that also haven't been on TV in ages. (The Dudley Do-Rights all have been recently played on Cartoon Network and Boomerang Channels.)
A few minor quibbles: -All the shows have the altered season 1 opening & closing of "Rocky & His Friends". They should've used the circus wagon beginning and endings of "The Rocky Show" or the marquee intros and credits of "The Bullwinkle Show". Hopefully, they'll be in seasons 4 and 5. -The R & B adventures are in the wrong order. "The Three Mooseketeers" and "Topsy-Turvy World" came before "Missouri Mish-Mash" and "Lazy Jay Ranch". But only the most extreme die-hards will care. -There should've been notes about Durward Kirby's attempt to sue Jay Ward over the "Kirward Derby" parody. (Jay responded by saying "Go ahead and sue. We like the publicity." The lawsuit was later dropped.) But these are very minor quibbles.
Season 4 should also have some adventures that haven't been on TV in ages. They were released in Buena Vista VHS tapes, but with some episodes tied together: -Painting Theft -Goof Gas (sort of the opposite of the Kirward Derby) -Banana Formula -The Treasure of Monte Zoom plus one adventure that hasn't been on TV or video: -The Guns of Abalone and two adventures that have been on Boomerang recently: -Bumbling Brothers Circus -Mucho Loma