The Bullwinkle Show

The Bullwinkle Show

It would seem that most everyone has a soft spot in their nostalgic heart for that lovable duo, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ever since the Jay Ward characters made their debut in 1959 as Rocky and Friends, they have kept viewers of all ages thoroughly entertained. Kids particularly love the kooky characters, while older crowds notice the sophisticated humor laced with subtle wordplay lurking underneath. This “something for everyone” approach has made this duo one of the most popular cartoon series in history.

When Rocky and Friends made its original debut, it proved to be an instant success with the little ones, so much so that ABC began running it twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. By 1960, the show was moved to Sunday mornings – then inexplicably cancelled. NBC knew a good thing when they saw it, however, and quickly picked up the series.

They changed the name to The Bullwinkle Show and began running it on Sunday evenings, then on Saturday mornings, then back on Sunday mornings again. Luckily, audiences followed it wherever it went and it would stay on network television for 13 years before finally moving to syndication, where it would remain until the early 80s.

Both stars of The Bullwinkle Show hailed from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Bullwinkle J. Moose, was the lovable, dimwitted alumni of Whatsamatta U. and his sidekick pal was a flying squirrel named Rocky, short for Rocket J. Squirrel. Their cliffhanger-inspired comic adventures pitted them against the evil Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, commanded by Mr. Bigg and Fearless Leader, and paired them with friendly aliens from the moon, Gidney and Cloyd, and Captain Peter “Wrongway” Peachfuzz, captain of the S.S. Guppy.

Each of the 28 Rocky and Bullwinkle adventures produced consisted of anywhere from 4 to 40 segments, each with a cliffhanger ending, that acted as bookends for the show. The middle was filled with segments featuring such classic cartoons as Dudley Do-Right, Fractured Fairy Tales, Bullwinkle’s Mr Know It All, Peabody’s Impossible History and Aesop and Son.

A few attempts were made over the years to bring Rocky and Bullwinkle to the big screen. The first was based on Boris and Natasha (played by Dave Thomas and Sally Kellerman, respectively) and never actually made it into theaters. It would air instead on Showtime in 1992. In 2000, a live action/animated feature, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (starring Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader) was released to lukewarm reviews. Brendon Frasier would take on the role of Dudley Do-Right in 1999.

Whether you loved them as a kid for their strange and wonderful assortment of characters, or appreciated the sophisticated wit as a nostalgic adult, one thing is clear – the memories for a simple squirrel and his faithful moose friend won’t be fading anytime soon.

If you remember faithfully curling up in front of the TV, bowl of cereal and favorite blanket close at hand, to watch the wonderful adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle on The Bullwinkle Show, we welcome your thoughts and memories in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this iconic animated show beloved by millions.

One Response to “The Bullwinkle Show”

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  1. Ron Madara says:

    The article says that the show moved to Sundays in 1960. I can tell you with certainty that in Philadelphia the show was on in the afternoon in the summer of 1960. I know this because it was my favorite show as a 5 year old and I was really annoyed when it got pre-empted by the Democratic National Convention coverage that summer. I remember asking my mom about this Kennedy guy that was interrupting my beloved show. :)

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