So here we go with the first episode of Rocko’s Modern Life. I’m not starting with the pilot but I will cover it later. Since each episode is split into two shorts, I’ll split the review into sections for each of them.
The first part of the episode is “No Pain, No Gain.” It starts out with Rocko exercising at home, and by exercising I mean watching a workout video while sitting still talking about how out of shape he is. This prompts a great little surreal moment where the exercise instructor in the video comes out of the TV and yells at him to start moving. Rocko attempts some jumping jacks by just flapping his arms around. Heifer then shows up and we see that he’s not in the best shape either.
Heifer at least acknowledges his massive size and tells Rocko that he has two tickets to an exclusive gym, Flambe Le Flab (now that’s a name that screams fitness). Upon arriving at this exclusive establishment we meet the Chameleon Brothers, characters who will recur throughout the series in many different roles. They explain that the gym is very exclusive and that Rocko is not dressed appropriately. This gym apparently runs on some kind of point system that determines who gets in and who doesn’t because Rocko and Heifer are constantly losing points. The get suited up in appropriate clothes after a short montage of them trying different outfits that are on offer….such as a lobster suit for some reason. And now begins a tour of the many activities offered at the gym. First they attend a class taught by a hilarious and quite obvious parody of Richard Simmons. After that, they try the various machines available to members. Heifer even orders a burrito because that’s just the kind of gym this is. The machines don’t work out for them, and seem to cause more harm than help.
Rocko also tries a rowing machine that takes him on a journey through a crazy hillbilly infested river that throws actual spears at him. While trying all of these activities, Rocko and Hef just keep losing points. While trying to relax at the pool, Heifer jumps from the highest diving board which causes all the water to be displaced from the pool when he hits. Things just don’t look good for them actually getting into this gym. But the thing that puts the nail in the coffin is when Heifer takes Mrs. Bighead’s towel causing her to jump inside a piano and plow through the Chameleon Brothers. Heifer gets kicked out while Rocko is offered a membership, but being a true friend Rocko sticks with Hef and they both leave. They decide that working out on the couch while eating pizza is a better way to get in shape.
The second part of this episode is “Who Gives A Buck.” Gotta love that subtle wordplay. We find Rocko and Heifer watching the All Scottish Channel at Rocko’s house. Rocko says that it’s the only channel that comes in on his lava lamp. I had a lava lamp once and I didn’t really find it that interesting. I probably would’ve liked it more if it functioned as a TV antenna. The lava lamp erupts just after Rocko’s comment and actual lava rains down on the living room. The destruction caused by the lava prompts Hef to point out what a dump Rocko’s house is (such a good friend). Rocko agrees that maybe he should get some new stuff but says that he simply can’t afford it. Right on cue, the mail arrives with a shiny new Conglomo credit card. Heifer talks Rocko into using it by using Spunky’s sadness over his melted dog bowl and they head to the mall. This mall is ridiculously huge and of course all the parking spaces are full, a problem I’m sure everyone can relate to. They follow a weird man-boy to get his parking space but quickly find out that he’s lost and has been searching for his mommy’s car for years. They then head to the top of the parking garage and find a spot on the roof which literally appears to be in space.
Upon entering the mall, they use a pretty advanced “You Are Here” kiosk that sends them straight to the dog bowl store. The salesman is creepy and sends them on a tour of the store to find the perfect bowl. The salesman has a great line here: “Why don’t you jump on our doggie style bowl ride? Everyone on their hands and knees?” So wrong, but so funny. They eventually let Spunky decide which bowl he wants and he chooses the most expensive one, The Leak Elite. With the power of credit, Rocko purchases the bowl. After leaving the dog bowl store, Rocko falls in love with a painting of a sad, crying clown in an iron lung (something he’s always wanted apparently). Buying the painting causes him to go on a shopping spree to replace all of his shitty furniture.
He gets a call from the credit company as soon as he gets home demanding the money for all of the charged purchases. Just like real life! Heifer splits when a threatening note on a brick flies through the window also demanding payment. Rocko wakes up the next morning to find that the Conglomo Repo Company has taken all of his stuff. Heifer shows up with The Leak Elite for Spunky, explaining how he sold his second stomach to the All Scottish Channel Organ Exchange for cash. The episode ends with a bagpipe player using Hef’s stomach and blowing food out of it in the process. Ah, such a happy ending!
Overall this is a great episode. We get introduced to the zany world that Rocko lives in and witness some of the surrealism that just seems to be commonplace in O-Town. The second half of the episode also shows off some of the great adult humor that becomes one of the staples of the series. I love how this series takes such normal situations, such as losing weight, and makes them so wacky. There’s even a nice lesson about the dangers of uncontrolled credit spending. That’s all I’ve got for this episode, so I hope you enjoyed reading it. See you next time!