spiky adj : having or as if having especially high-pitched spots; "absence of peaky highs and beefed-up bass" [syn: peaky] [also: spikiest, spikier]
Rocko's Modern Life is an Emmy-nominated American animated series created by Joe Murray that aired for four seasons from 1993 to 1996. The show was based around the surreal, parodic adventures of an anthropomorphic wallaby named Rocko, and his life in the city of O-Town. One of Nickelodeon's Nicktoons, it was the fourth series released in the Nicktoons group, and the first to be introduced since the original three were introduced in August 1991. The program was produced by Joe Murray Productions and Nickelodeon Studios, and occasionally by Games Productions.
The show is laden with double entendres, sexual innuendos, and social commentary, some of which have been edited in rebroadcasts. Rocko's Modern Life ended production in 1996.
HistoryOriginally, the character Rocko appeared in an unpublished comic book titled Travis. Murray tried selling the comic book in the late 1980s, between illustrating jobs, and did not find success in getting it in production. Many other characters appeared in various sketchbooks.
Murray described the early 1990s animation atmosphere as "ripe for this kind of project. We took some chances that would be hard to do in these current times," with the "current times" being the 2000s.
Murray wanted funding for his independent film "My Dog Zero," so he wanted Nickelodeon to pre-buy television rights for the series. Murray presented a pencil test to Nickelodeon Studios, which afterwards became interested in buying and airing the show. Linda Simensky, then in charge of animation development in Nickelodeon, informed Murray about the Nicktoons lineup and concept. Murray originally felt skepticism towards the concept of creating a Nicktoon as he disliked television cartoons. Simensky told Murray that Nicktoons differed from other cartoons. Murray told her that he believed that "My Dog Zero" would not work as a cartoon. He researched Nickelodeon believed that the "attitude was different than regular TV." Murray combed through his sketchbooks, developed the Rocko's Modern Life concept, and submitted it to Nickelodeon, believing that the concept would likely be rejected. According to Murray, around three or four months later he had "forgotten about" the concept and was working on "My Dog Zero" when Simensky informed Murray that Nickelodeon wanted a pilot episode. Murray said that he was glad that he would get funding for "My Dog Zero." On his website Murray describes "My Dog Zero" was "that film that Linda Simensky saw which led me to Rocko."
Murray originally wrote "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic" as the pilot; the executives decided that Heffer Wolfe, one of the characters, would be "a little too wierd for test audiences." Murray, instead of removing Heffer from "Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic," decided to write "Trash-O-Madness" as the pilot episode.
According to Murray, two months prior to the production of season 1 of Rocko's Modern Life, Murray experienced an event that he describes as "a horrible tragedy" and that he felt that he had emotional and physical "unresolved issues" when he moved to Los Angeles. He describes the experience as like participating in "marathon with my pants around my ankles." Murray initially believed that he would create one season, move back to the San Francisco Bay Area, and "clean up the loose ends I had left hanging." Murray said that he felt surprised when Nickelodeon approved new seasons;
After season 3 he decided to hand the project to Stephen Hillenburg, who performed most work for season 4; Murray continued to manage the cartoon. The production moved to a different office building on Vineland Avenue in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. Executives did not share space with the creative team. Rough Draft Studios assembled the animation.
According to Murray, as Rocko's Modern Life was Murray's first television series, he did not know about the atmosphere of typical animation studios. Murray said that he opted to operate his studio in a similar manner to the operation of his Saratoga, California studio, which he describes as "Very relaxed." Murray's cadre included many veterans who, according to him, described the experience as "the most fun they had ever had!" Murray, saying that the atmosphere was "not my doing," credited his team members for collectively contributing to the atmosphere. While directing during recording sessions, Murray preferred to be on the stage with the actors instead of "behind glass" in a control room, which Murray describes as "the norm" while making animated series.
Murray believes that, due to his lack of experience with children, Rocko's Modern Life "skewed kind of older." When he began producing Rocko, he says that his experience in independent films initially led him to attempt to micromanage many details in the production. Murray said that the approach, when used for production of television shows, was "driving me crazy." This led Murray to allow for other team members to manage aspects of the Rocko's Modern Life production.
Writing styleThe writers aimed to create stories that they describe as "strong" and "funny." The writers, including George Maestri and Martin Olson, often presented ideas to Murray while eating hamburgers at Rocky's, a restaurant formerly located on Lankershim in the North Hollywood section of the San Fernando Valley. Murray took his team members on "writing trips" to places such as Rocky's, the LaBrea Tar Pits, and the wilderness. If Murray liked the story premises, the writers produced full outlines from the premises. Outlines approved by Murray and Nickelodeon became Rocko's Modern Life episodes. Maestri describes some stories as originating from "real life" and some originating from "thin air." Murray stated that each episode of Rocko's Modern Life stemmed from a personal experiences of himself and/or one or more of the directors or writers. John Pacenti said the series "seems very much aimed at adults" "for a children's' cartoon."
Marsh believes that the material written by Doug Lawrence stands as an example of a "unique sense of humor." For instance, Marsh credits Lawrence with the "pineapple references" adding that Lawrence believed that pineapples seemed humorous. A 1993 Houston Chronicle article described the series's setting as having a "reality is "squashed and stretched" into a twisted version of real life."
The background staff hand-painted backgrounds with Dr. Martin dyes.