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Image Entertainment presents
Roger Ramjet: Hero of Our Nation (1965)

"Roger, you always cease to amaze me."
- General Brassbottom (Bob Arbogast)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 11, 2002

Stars: Gary Owens, Bob Arbogast, Dick Beals, Joanie Gerber
Other Stars: Dave Ketchum, Gene Moss, Paul Shively
Director: Fred Crippen

Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (lame puns)
Run Time: 01h:22m:04s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 014381125320
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+C+C- B-

DVD Review

Few would argue with the statement that the television shows created by Jay Ward made an indelible impact on animation in America. He was perhaps the first real innovator to come along since the masters at Warner, Disney, and MGM, and he easily ranks with geniuses like Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. His most popular creations, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right, had such lasting popularity that they were made into feature films some 30 years after originally airing. And it is easy to see why the material has held up. Like the Looney Tunes, Ward's creations are targeted equally at kids and adults. The young ones enjoy the broad humor of Bullwinkle the Moose and his sidekick Rocky, while adults enjoy the sly dialogue, rife with pop culture references, puns, and satire (for great cold war humor, look no further than Boris and Natasha).While it is true that Ward's impact can be clearly seen even today in shows like The Simpsons (creator Matt Groenig is a big fan), it isn't necessary to look quite so far. Roger Ramjet, produced in 1965, just four years after Moose and Squirrel's premiere, shows all the hallmarks of a Ward production, from the wacky character designs, simplistic animation, punny dialogue, satire, and a breakneck joke-a-second pace. But the material is so good, it stands on its own, clearly influenced by what had come before, but certainly worthy in its own right.Roger Ramjet, "Daredevil, Flying Fool, and All-Around Good Guy", leads the American Eagle Squadron (which consists of three boys and a girl: Yank, Doodle, Dan, and Dee) against any enemy who would challenge the American Way. Frequent baddies are the delightful Cold War creation N.A.S.T.Y. (The National Association of Spies, Traitors, and Yahoos), but other dastardly villains include the Solenoid Robots and Red Dog the Pirate. Roger always manages to save the day before each five-minute episode is up, either through his bumbling or a dose of Proton Pills, which give him the power of 20 proton bombs for 20 seconds (and kept him off the air through the 1970s when critics attacked the show for promoting drug use). The animation is simple to the extreme; at times, the characters barely seem to move and the backgrounds are as stark as can be. Clearly, drawings take a backseat to the writing, and that certainly isn't a bad thing. The show is still fresh and funny, even after nearly 40 years. The writers pepper the dialogue with movie-references, social satire, and brilliant throwaway puns; while the vocal performances from legends like Bob Arbogast, Dick Beals, Joanie Gerber, and especially Gary Owens as Roger take the humor to a new level. Roger Ramjet is great fun and highly recommended for fans of classic animation.This disc contains the following 15 episodes:Dr. EvilkisserThe ShaftBaseballThe PiratesDraftedTV CrisisRevolutionMiss AmericaThe RaceJack the NipperMa RamjetHi NoonBank RobbersDumb WaiterSkydiving

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer on this disc is quite good, considering the age of the show. Colors look fairly strong, if a bit dull—like many of the shows of the era, the color palate is fairly limited. I noted no artifacting or line jitter. The real negatives, though, are instances of questionable framing in several scenes and the condition of the source material (which shows a lot of dirt and lines).

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: This mono track sounds fairly good. Dialogue is always understandable, and sound effects and music are well integrated (the elements never have to fight for dominence), but the fidelity is fairly weak, as a result, the track sounds fairly harsh. One of the episodes suffer from major lipsynch problems and audio lags, but it seems an isolated incident.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Gary Owens, the voice of Roger Ramjet
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 5 Roger Ramjet Bumpers
Extras Review: Note: this exact extras package also appears on the other Roger Ramjet disc, Man of Adventure.The biggest selling point here is commentary from the voice of Roger himself, Gary Owens. His comments don't run for the entire program; rather, he only speaks over a 10-minute montage of scenes from the disc. It's more of an audio memoir, with Owens telling a few anecdotes about his work on the show, discussing its origins, and telling us about the people he worked with. He's very interesting to listen to, and he tells some great stories (I especially enjoyed one about Tom Selleck on a plane). He's also quite funny! Choice quotes from Mr. Owens: A: Siss boom bah. Q: What kind of sound does an exploding sheep make? Memories are a wonderful thing; they tend to varnish reality. It's a well known fact among me that Roger Ramjet is one of the hippest cartoons ever made. If nothing else, Owens is certainly one of the hippest voice-over artists.Quite amusing are five quick 30-second bumpers that ran between episodes. Each features a quick joke, most of them dealing with why people should stay tuned to the show. The jokes are in the same sly vein as the rest of the program, and all are worth watching.Also particularly welcome is the option to watch the entire program without the credits running between each episode. This cuts about 20 minutes from the running time, but is sure to calm the nerves of anyone who happens to be in the room while you are watching. Listen up for some choice comments from Roger if you select to watch sans credits. "What? You don't want to memorize those credits? You don't want to watch them 15 or 30 times? What kind of person are you?" A third viewing option is also offered—if you choose the "select episode" option, you can choose to view each with a brief, humorous audio intro from Owens.Finally, the disc includes a few cute easter eggs. Hidden on the extras page (just highlight the "Gary Owens Remembers" icon and click left) are eight minutes of audio outtakes from the Gary Owens commentary recording. Worth it, if only to hear Owens telling slightly dirty jokes, and then asking, "Can I say that? These are adults watching this, right?" On the episode selection menu, highlight "back" and press left for three minutes of audio clips of Gary Owens recording answering machine messages for the DVD production team.Rounding out the extras package is a booklet with descriptions for each of the 15 episodes.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

The jokes in Roger Ramjet fly fast and furious; it may even outpace the laugh quotient on Rocky and Bullwinkle. Fans of Jay ward's style of animation will certainly enjoy the show, and the DVD from Image is great as well.


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