When I was 12 years old, there was this cartoon called Roger Ramjet. Naturally, for the next several years, some kid or another referred to ME as Roger Ramjet, “a patriotic and highly moral — if not very bright — hero, who is typically out to save the world, with help from his Proton Energy Pills (“PEP”), which give him ‘the strength of twenty atom bombs for a period of twenty seconds’.” This did not bother me.
I don’t much remember the program, but I believe that I mistakenly thought it was made by the same folks who made Rocky and Bullwinkle, the cartoon about a moose and squirrel that I watched fairly regularly. A 2015 article suggests Roger Ramjet was a subversive cartoon classic:
Bullwinkle aired from ‘59 to ‘64. Roger Ramjet came along a year later and Jay Ward’s influence is undeniable. The difference was Roger Ramjet crammed the equivalent number of bad jokes, references, and plot twists of a typical 8-part Bullwinkle serial into each five-minute episode, both mirroring the rapid-fire screwball dialogue of the ‘30s and the frenetic quick-cut comedy to come along a year or two later in shows like The Monkees and Laugh-In…
The show was created originally by animator Fred Crippen… and Ken Snyder, an ad exec who moved over into producing cartoons. They brought in a remarkable team of voice talent and comedy writers, including Gene Moss (the voice of Smokey the Bear) Jim Thurmam (who did a lot of kids shows including Sesame Street), Dick Beals (the original voice of Gumby), and the great Gary Owens [voicing Roger], a drive-time deejay in LA who would get national recognition soon enough as the on-screen announcer for Laugh-In…
In the end, though, the characters and storylines are secondary at best in Roger Ramjet. At heart it’s a matter of trying to keep up with all the lightning-quick jokes and wordplay, the non-sequitors and references.
The Roger Ramjet theme, based on Yankee Doodle, which I well remember
The theme lyrics, which include
Roger Ramjet he’s our man
Hero of our nation
For his adventure just be sure
And stay tuned to this station.
Roger Ramjet – Episode 01 – Dr Ivan Evilkisser;
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