Rocko’s Modern Christmas A Modern Classic

The 90s were truly an interesting era for Nickelodeon shows, with many of the shows being made not just for kids, but for teenagers and young adults as well. Their most grown up was Ren and Stimpy, with many of the others, such as Rocko’s Modern Life, being aimed at a young audience with its cartoony elements, and a more teenaged audience with its jokes. While I have already touched on one great Nickelodeon special, Hey Arnold’s “Arnold’s Christmas”, I am here today to tell you about another great special from Nickelodeon, Rocko’s Modern Life’s special called “Rocko’s Modern Christmas”. But, as usual, before I get into the special, I’ll touch on the show briefly.

The cover of the VHS tape I watched it on

The show is about a wallaby named Rocko who moves to O-Town from Australia with his cute little dog Spunky. He finds a friend in a young bull named Heifer, who funnily enough is the adoptive child to a family of wolves. Through Heifer Rocko meets and befriends a very neurotic, Woody Allen type turtle named Filburt. Rocko also has a grumpy neighbour named Mr. Bighead, who has a short temper and isn’t Rocko’s biggest fan. Other than that, the show is basically a zany 90s Nickelodeon cartoon with jokes that will go above the heads of kids, but enough physical jokes for keep the kids entertained. With all of this in mind, I’ll tell you about the special.

The special starts with Rocko and Spunky coming out of Rocko’s house all dressed up for a blizzard, only to find there is no snow. Rocko has his sled with him, and wishes that it could snow, because it just doesn’t feel like Christmas with no snow. He notices that the cloud above his house is trying to drop snow, but seems to be constipated. It drops one big flake that knocks Rocko out. Rocko imagines a big snow storm and everyone sledding around and skating, and this serves as the credit sequence.

The constipated cloud

Rocko wakes up from his day dream, and is hopeful that it will snow, but just then it starts to rain. He is cheered up though when he notices he has new neighbours moving in who seem to have the holiday spirit. He and Spunky go back inside, much to the joy of Rocko’s other neighbour, Mr. Bighead. He and his wife are just readying their Christmas cards (seems a little late what with it being Christmas Eve, but whatever), and he is overjoyed that it isn’t snowing, because he hates Christmas. He is not happy when he sees the new neighbours have decked out their house with all sorts of Christmas decorations.

Rocko has decided that to try and lift his spirits, he is going to invite Heifer and Filburt and a few other friends over for a Christmas party that night. Things get out of hand however, and soon nearly everyone Rocko knows has heard about his party and are intent on coming. He makes up invites for everyone, mails them, and he and Spunky head off to the mall to get a tree. On the way there, they pass by the new neighbour’s house, and see one of the new neighbours out front. He is an elf! One of Santa’s elves. He is really timid, and afraid to talk to Rocko, but secretly follows Rocko and Spunky off to the mall.

The silent elf outside of his house

Outside of the mall, Rocko goes into a tent to buy a Christmas tree, and it just so happens to be run by Filburt and Heifer. Rocko gets the last real tree, and heads off into the mall to look around before heading home. The elf also goes into the mall, and while at the shoe store, is picked on by a group of Alligators who work there. Rocko sees his neighbour being bothered, and distracts the employees long enough for the little guy to escape. Rocko sees it as his job to see the little guy home, and off they go.

They go back to the elf’s house, and after knocking on the door, another elf comes to answer it. He thanks Rocko for bringing the little silent elf home and invites him inside for some tea and cookies. Rocko realizes they are Santa’s elves, and invites them to his party that night. The elves will be done working by the time the party starts, so they are happy to accept the invitation. As Rocko is stepping out of the house, Mr. Bighead sees that the house is owned by elves and hatches a plan.

The inside of the elf house, full of Christmas toys!

A little while later, after he has dropped off Rocko’s tree, Filburt is walking by Mr. Bighead’s house and asks if Mr. Bighead is going to Rocko’s party. Since he hasn’t received an invitation, and hates Christmas and elves, he starts a rumor that the elves have a contagious foot fungus, which greatly upsets Filburt, a very serious hypochondriac. The rumor spreads and soon no one is going to be coming to the party except the elves. The elves though hear about a gang of diseased trolls going to the party, and don’t want to get mixed up in any of that, to the great disappointment of the little silent elf.

Rocko gets everything ready, not knowing that no one plans to come. Before he knows it it’s midnight, and no one has come to the party. He tries to call his family in Australia to wish them a Merry Christmas, but all of the lines are busy. Just then, the doorbell rings, and the little silent elf is there. He comes inside and sees how sad Rocko is, and tries to cheer him up by having him read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas out loud to the elf and Spunky. It puts Rocko to sleep, and as the elf leaves, he is so touched by Rocko’s kindness that he is able to use his magic and make the constipated cloud able to snow. It snows all night, but only over Rocko’s house.

The snow falling on Rocko's house

The next morning, everyone wakes up to see the only snow in town is at Rocko’s house. The elves come out of their house and reveal to everyone that the silent elf made it snow because only he and one other person in town showed true Christmas spirit, and that person was Rocko. Rocko just so happens to open his door at that moment, and Filburt apologizes for spreading rumours and skipping the party. Heifer apologizes for skipping the party to sell trees. Everyone else apologizes to Rocko and they all go inside his house for a Christmas party after all! Everyone that is, except for Mr. Bighead. He is still furious about not receiving and invite. He hears a knock at the door, and the silent elf is there on his front step. He hands Mr. Bighead an invite that was clearly lost in the mail, and as Mr. Bighead decides to come to the party, the elf smacks him on the foot with a hammer to get back at him for starting the elf rumour. Mr. Bighead chases the elf, but trips, falls into some christmas lights, goes flying into Rocko’s house, and ends up as a makeshift Christmas tree. Rocko realizes now that everyone had Christmas cheer inside them all along, and tells the elf that this is the best Christmas ever. The phone rings, and it is Rocko’s family to wish him a Merry Christmas. We cut to outside his house and now it is snowing all over the town, and the special comes to an end.

Decked out Christmas tree Mr. Bighead

This special falls under the category of being a one-off special that teaches a Christmas lesson, and I think it does a pretty good job at doing so. While it teaches a few other minor lessons, like that it is better to spend time with your friends at Christmas than it is to be greedy (Heifer), or that it is wrong to spread rumours because doing so may have very negative results on a friend (Filburt), I think the main message is that if you get together with all of your friends and family and really celebrate and enjoy each other’s company, you can have a great Christmas. It’s a nice message to get across, one that comes up a lot in Christmas specials, but one that never really gets old. So often around Christmas people really forget that the important part of the holidays is to spend it with family, not focus on presents or money, and these specials serve as a great reminder of that.

I really love the way this special touches not only on its lesson, but also on other Christmas time things like the importance of snow. Having grown up in Canada, I agree with Rocko that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without snow. While I hate driving in it and shovelling it, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas morning without a blanket of snow on the ground. Luckily for me though, I don’t normally have any issues with constipated clouds.

I recommend this special to both children and adults. The kids will like the cartoony elements of the story, while the adults enjoy the pop culture references and adult oriented jokes that will most likely go over the heads of the kids. The overall runtime for the episode is around 25 minutes, so it is a perfect length for an episode of this style, and never really drags or gets boring at any point. This is a special I make sure to watch every holiday season since I bought it, and if you like those 90s era Nickelodeon cartoons that are hard to believe were ever made for kids, I think you’ll want to make a habit of watching it too.

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