“Rocko’s Modern Life” was truly ahead of its time when the cartoon premiered in 1993.
Created by Joe Murray, the cartoon followed the life of Rocko, a wallaby with a thick Australian accent, and a colorful cast of strange characters. The show only ran for four surreal seasons, but it stood the test of time. For example, if you grew up in the 90s, you’ve repeated, “Turn the page, wash ya hands” at least once in your adult life.
In 1996, Rocko’s Modern Life ended, but many members of its cast and crew congregated for a new project: Spongebob Squarepants. Where Rocko’s Modern Life was a modest success, Spongebob was a cultural phenomenon, and the rest is history.
Now, “Rocko’s Modern Life” is coming back for a single TV movie in 2018.
Joe Murray released a few details about the plot of the film, Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling, in an interview with Motherboard. While he’s reserving some of the surprises for the special, he indicated that the plot would follow Rocko, Heffer, and the rest of the crew as they return to Earth after a 22-year absence.
In the timeline of the show, the characters were trapped in space. Through the TV movie, they’ll marvel at modern inventions, but Rocko will become nostalgic for the ’90s. In a sense, the new special will mock nostalgia—the very reason that Rocko’s Modern Life is returning to television. It will also take a satirical view of modern technology.
“Everyone’s so used to doing it this way, that if you don’t do it that way, you’re out. You’re on the outskirts. You can’t participate,” Murray said. “And you fight against it, and you fight against it, but eventually you have to [do so]…”I have an outdated iPhone that I can’t even get apps for anymore. We made a joke in the new Rocko special: ‘It’s genius, this plan of obsolescence.'”
“My work has always been to poke fun at where we are and hold up a mirror to where we are and see the insanity of it,” Murray said to Motherboard. “Some of the things that we’re doing is just insane.”
Some early episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life dealt with the evils of consumerism.
In one notable episode, Rocko gets a credit card, which eventually results in his financial ruin, and his loyal friend Heffer eventually sells one of his stomachs to help Rocko keep one of his purchases.
But the new special seems to take the concept further, ridiculing our cultural addiction to technology. Murray says that a meeting with a Cartoon Network executive helped to inspire him.
“This guy was actually saying ‘we want every child to have a handheld device in their hand, even if they’re out playing baseball, with Cartoon Network on it,” he said, laughing. “They thought I was a pain in the [expletive] because I said that was ridiculous. Is that really the future of our kids, to have them glued to a screen for their whole life? But it’s really becoming like that.”
The entire main cast of the original series will return for the special, which will air sometime in 2018.