Although there were some complaints about the packaging of Season Two, Season Three is a Jay Wardian delight; the four discs are well protected, and there's even art inside the slipcase where you can barely see it. For the third season, the writing got both worse and better. Aesop's Fables are a snooze and Fractured Fairy Tales fall flat, but for R and B (Rocky and Bullwinkle, it's a high point. The set starts off with "Missouri Mish Mash" (shows 1-13, 26 episodes) featuring not only moon men Gidney and Cloyd, but the famed Kirward Derby. Then it's "Lazy Jay Ranch" (shows 14-22, 18 episodes), "The Three Mooseketeers (shows 23-26, 8 episodes), and the grand finale, "Topsy Turvy World" with Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz (shows 27-33, 14 episodes).
Aside from the obvious delight of either reliving these episodes or discovering R and B anew, the show is a primer in the art of limited animation, and it's one Matt Groening has obviously been watching. The actual R and B episodes are quite short, as are the rotating supporting shorts "Bullwinkle's Corner," "Mr. Know It All," "Peabody and Sherman," and "Dudley Do Right" along with Aesop and the fairy tales. But the numerous stretches of repeating animation: "Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" "Again?" known as interstices or bumpers, which segue in and out of commercials and station breaks are welcome rather than annoying, and make the show as familiar and comfy as an old chair.
The show is a brilliant coup of limited animation, since these bits are repeated every show. Matt Groening has clearly inherited the mantle of Jay Ward. Look at the long, lavish and looked-forward to openings of The Simpsons and Futurama. The small changes in each episode of the Simpsons on the sofa or the cartoon on the TV on Futurama seem like special bonuses and a gift to viewers, adding to the hand-made feel of the shows.
As many fans know, Homer J. Simpson's middle moniker is in tribute to Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel, and another J., last name of Ward. Nancy Cartwright voicing Bart recalls an earlier female voicing a male character: June Foray as Rocky. Writers from R and B would also go on to work on the next generation of sitcoms: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and Barney Miller.
The one jarring note in this set is its title as "Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends," which appears in the bumpers. These stories originally aired on NBC, as "The Bullwinkle Show," and the order was different, starting with "The Three Mooseketeers" (episodes 157-164), followed by "Lazy Jay Ranch" (episodes 165-182), "Missouri Mish Mash," (episodes 183- 208), and "Topsy Turvy World," (episodes 209- 222). The title later changed when the show went into syndication. That tiny quible aside, Season Three is a tough act to follow. Hopefully some of the Quaker Quisp commercials are coming and more of what R and B fans really like.