The first thing I noted immediately upon opening my copy of "ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON" is that, unlike "THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON", the disks are not two-sided. I assume this is because of the length of the season, not near as long as the sprawling second season with three lengthy story arcs and four shorter ones. The four lengthy, one-sided disks contain the story arcs, "MISSOURI MISHMASH", "THE GUNS OF AVELONE", "THE LAZY J RANCH" and APPLE SAUCE LORRAINE", the latter being the one story that does *NOT* feature Boris & Natasha trying to do away with "Moose and Squirrel". There is also a fifth story, but I don't recall its title. It revolves (no pun intended) around a kind of polar flip that happens with the earth, in other words, Jay Ward's version of global warming. Cold spots become tropic zones and vice versa, and this first manifests itself with our heroes as they see a blooming flower in the snow there in their hometown of Frostbite Falls. To them, that's a heat wave!
Of course, the culprits are Boris and Natasha, who end up playing the evil Santa Claus and his equally hellish "little helper", Alf Elf, who tries giving Bullwinkle a ticking package for Christmas.
I am one of those who absolutely *MUST* have all episodes of this series; so, if there are any folks who like the antics of these early Jay Ward characters enough, these sets are reasonably priced ways to get it. Of course, the same restoration/tampering process exists in this volume as in the other two volumes, but for the most part, this is the closest thing I've seen to fully restored cartoons from this studio. Having lived with the first two volumes with such remasterings and remixings, I still felt that enough of the original feel of the series is here, fully intact, that I can still enjoy it as a fun time capsule. Yes, I wish that the original opening and closing themes were present, but the music that appears here did come out of Jay Ward Studios; so the material is not devoid of the original stamp of the studio's humor. Also, let's be glad that we are seeing the episodes and other cartoons finally played at their proper speeds! When another video company owned the rights to these cartoons, we got condensed versions of the stories and, if you listened carefully, the prints sounded incredibly scratchy and somewhat time-compressed. Now, you're hearing the material as clear as you're probably going to hear it until, perhaps, ten years or so later when someone decides that the Jay Ward material deserves a closer look.
And a closer look is what this material needs. After all, the charm of the Jay Ward Studios is that these comic geniuses could sell you anything, even if the ads might seem a bit condescending! Yes, I could have used a *LOT* more extras--perhaps maybe even stretching these to make the fourth disk the only two-sided disk in the set, filled to capacity with these very memorable TV ads for all kinds of breakfast foods. At one time, I often thought that Jay Ward should have had his own cereal company *AND* that the cereal boxes that sported Jay Ward art and little collectables were well worth saving. I'm sure that someone has this art neatly tucked away, and it, too, would have been worth having as visual extras in the booklets that came with this set. Imagine having a full color reprint of those CAP'N CRUNCH, QUISP or QUAKE comic books that used to come in each specially marked box!! I think I was drawn to the cereals almost entirely because the ads were so incredibly funny!!
If we could coerce 20th Century Fox to relinquish their strangle hold on "CRUSADER RABBIT" or "GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE", we might actually see more of those ads, because I think many of the later cereal ads like QUISP and QUAKE were mostly featured during the same period that "GEORGE" was popular. And who owns "HOPPITY HOOPER"? And does anyone recall whether much about the series was brand new outside of the cliffhanger episodes featuring the main characters? If I recall correctly, various sections of "ROCKY & BULLWINKLE" shows were fit neatly into "HOPPITY HOOPER", but the stories featuring this group of offbeat characters were surreal and funny, sometimes poking fun at then popular shows like "THE TWILIGHT ZONE". Ward constantly peddled pop culture that one could still really enjoy today, as much as we frown at shows today becoming shills for connected products.
With Jay Ward creations, you were sometimes laughing too hard to care!!
It is worth noting that this set does have the occasional "rerun"; that is, there are "AESSOP & SON", "DUDLEY DO-RITE" and "PEABODY'S IMPROBABLE HISTORY" episodes previously included on the first two seasons that are also featured among the extras in each show on this set, but never fear--you are also getting those shorts that are exclusive to the season, like the "FRACTURED FAIRY TALE" in which the inhabitants of the small town of Tootsie Lavendeur become irate when bottles of their most cherished wine comes with a cork that will not pop! This forces the king to send out an individual with each bottle who will stand beside the buyer and make a popping sound!! That's as wonderfully warped as the episode on "THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON" in which a magical pipe smoker is able to conjure up various delicious pies from his pipe's bowl, including tobacco leaf pies that make the person eating them disappear--a strange and forward-thinking swipe at tobacco companies perhaps? Even without political ponderings, the stories are odd and very entertaining.
Oh, and one good thing worth noting is that, with this set, you finally get to hear and see the Bullwinkle puppet segment in which the moose suggests to the kiddies out there in the viewing audience that they remove the little knobs found on the front panel of the TV set to insure that nobody changes the channel 'til next week!! This alone is worth the very reasonable price of the set...and there will be a fourth volume, judging by the small amount of special features. It is my guess that this would have to be another two-sided affair that would feature the long-awaited stories, "BUMBLING BROTHERS' CIRCUS", "POTTSYLVANIA CREEPER", "WASSAMADDA U", "THE BANANA FORMULA" (in its entirety, finally), "GOOF GAS" and others in which Bullwinkle seems to become the main hero of the show and Rocky the reluctant tag-along. These of course are the episodes that mark the change of the show's name to "THE BULLWINKLE SHOW", although I think that the Jay Ward estate will keep all things ROCKY & BULLWINKLE under that specific banner, and I am enjoying the fact that the material that they chose as samples for opening credits come from the "ROCKY & HIS FRIENDS" show ("and here is a list of the folks who made this show impossible..."). This is a large step forward, and this is really what Jay Ward fans have been screaming for--obsessive material, including reruns and reworkings as they originally ran each week or daily on syndication, now looking and sounding better than anything we've seen on syndication all those years!! I give it a large plus for that alone!! Keep it up!!