Ever since watching both the Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life specials on Netflix a couple weeks ago, its been stuck in my head how good the Netflix Invader Zim movie was in my head and how too fast in pace Rocko’s Modern Life special was. Kind of. My views have changed since then. Right now, that’s still how I would rank both of these series in my head, but Rocko’s special has slowly entered my thoughts over the past couple weeks and how I feel about it has entered my head. What I am saying is that I am pretty slow sometimes. I am now a lot more positive on it then I was at first for a lot of reasons. I’m pretty glad that it exists and hope that it won’t take two decades for more to appear soon.
The story of Static Cling is pretty simple but pretty thematically powerful at the same time. After Rocko, Hefer, and Filburt spent twenty years flying around in outer space because of a rocket attached to Rocko’s house and Rocko’s VHS copy of the fat heads just dies, they make the landing back to O Town. Of course, their return not only starts the down turn of the economy of O Town, they notice how everything has changed. Technology has advanced greatly during the twenty years they’ve been in outer space and only Rocko has trouble dealing with that feeling of old age. With Mr. Big Head having troubles at work and Rocko needing more Fat Heads because it isn’t on tv anymore, the rest of the show is a search for the Big Head’s Son Ralph, who is now Rachel, to make a Fat Heads special to save the city.
One thing that made me miss Rocko while just watching this special was how meta the show was without ever having to point out how well meta and “amazing” the show is in the text and qoutes from characters. You know, like a lot of modern “humor” from these days. For starters, spending twenty years in outer space is first, not that outrageous for Rocko considering all the strange things that happened in the show. Secondly, it’s also a clever way of getting us in the same mind frame of the cast by pulling us out of time in the same sort of way. I mean, two decades with no Rocko and such should make that obvious. What is better is that is just where everything starts here. While some attributes are a little louder then I expected because it’s Heffer and Filburt using modern technology to issue how times have changed, I don’t know a more subtle way of doing that in a shorter amount of time. Still, everything thematic about it was as subtle as it could be.
I like the thematic through line of “times are changing, but I guess I can use to it” meta through line that has tons of heart to it. Plus the plot line of “we are making a special tons of years after a show came out” was just great. Especially with how the special was produced. First, the Fat Heads special was complete crap made from cg, which is a horrible thing that nobody ever liked. Seeing the love and care of Rachel put into making a special means a lot and tells us the correct way that they should be approached. Plus, since her father was having trouble with her transition, it was nice to see her using family experiences in her cartoon to at least get Mr. Big Head to accept her for who she is. Or you know, at least start that movement towards understanding. Rock has always been with it in regards of popular culture and the times, so this yet another example of that. I like the fact that Ralph transitioned to Rachel. Gender was maybe not the reason why Rachel was unhappy in the first place, but it’s completely valid and 2019.
If there is one thing that unsettles me about Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling is just how fast it is. While almost everything is set up and established in it’s 40 plus minutes so a little bit of world building is and establishing it’s plot, but so many things were skipped over. I’m still a little salty about how our favorite sarcastic dentist cat, Dr. Hutchinson, with a metal claw hand was regulated to being only a side character with only two or three lines? Who does that? Plus, there could be so many jokes made from every situation at hand, but that is definitely a nitpick. In general, the special was pretty solid and wonderful. The only reason why I still give Zim the edge because it had more time and content to it for me to look and laugh at. I’m glad that both of these things exist. Anger Beavers next?