The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (known as Rocky and His Friends during the first two seasons and as The Bullwinkle Show for the last three seasons) is an American animated television series that originally aired from November 19, 1959, to June 27, 1964, on the ABC and NBC television networks. Produced by Jay Ward Productions, the series is structured as a variety show, with the main feature being theserialized adventures of the two title characters, the anthropomorphic moose Bullwinkle and flying squirrel Rocky. The main adversaries in most of their adventures are the Russian-like spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. Supporting segments include Dudley Do-Right (a parody of old-time melodrama), Peabody's Improbable History (a dog and his pet boy Sherman traveling through time), and Fractured Fairy Tales (classicfairy tales retold in comic fashion), among others.
Rocky and Bullwinkle is known for quality writing and wry humor. Mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor, it appealed to adults as well as children. It was also one of the first cartoons whose animation was outsourced; storyboards were shipped to Gamma Productions, a Mexican studio also employed by Total Television. The art has a choppy, unpolished look and the animation is extremely limited even by television animation standards at the time. Yet the series has long been held in high esteem by those who have seen it; some critics described the series as a well-written radio program with pictures.
The show was shuffled around several times (airing in afternoon, prime time, and Saturday morning timeslots), but was influential to other animated series from The Simpsons to Rocko's Modern Life. Segments from the series were later recycled in the Hoppity Hooper show.
There have been numerous feature film adaptations of the series' various segments, such as the 2000 film The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle which blended live-action and computer animation and the 1999 live-action film Dudley Do-Right, which both received poor reviews and were financially unsuccessful. By contrast, an animated feature film adaptation of the "Peabody's Improbable History" segment, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, was released to good reviews in 2014.
Mr. Peabody will star in a new reboot series picked up for 13-episodes.
In 2013, Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show were ranked the sixth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time by TV Guide.