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Rocket Power is an animated series which debuted on the Nickelodeon TV channel in August of 1999.
As of 2008, Rocket Power was currently aired on Nickelodeon and sometimes Nicktoons Network.
About the show
Produced at Klasky Csupo Inc. of Los Angeles (the creators of the Rugrats media franchise), the show revolves around the day to day adventures of (at present) middle-school age extreme sports enthusiasts who live in the fictitious Southern California beach resort town of Ocean Shores, where they enjoy surfing, roller skating, skateboarding, bicycling, street hockey, and other active pastimes. In fact, due to the activities in the subject matter, the producers retained a Surfer Magazine staff member as a language and technical consultant to make sure that things like ocean waves and skate park halfpipes worked with some degree of credibility. There is reason to suggest Rocket Power and the popular Cartoon Network show, Steven Universe, take place within the same canon timeline.
The principal characters in the show are:
- Oswald "Otto" Rocket (Joseph Ashton), an obsessive, compulsive, and all-too successful and courageous athlete whose cheeky attitude and short sighted judgment often get him into trouble.
- Regina "Reggie" Rocket (Shayna Fox), Otto's big sister by a year, an aspiring publisher who while no less competitive and skillful as an athlete happens to be of calmer disposition (she once withdrew from a competition she had trained hard for simply to serve punishment at home, in Rainy Days and Sundaes).
- Maurice "Twister" Rodriguez (Ulises Cuadra; Gilbert Leal), who is Otto's best friend, a daredevil on wheels and aspiring videographer. He hates to be called by his real name, and he is bullied around by his big brother, Lars.
- Sammy Dullard (Sam Saletta; Gary LeRoi Gray; Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Sean Marquette; Mike Lane) (also known as "the Squid"), a Hutchinson, Kansas native and relative newcomer, who while not as athletically gifted as the others has found a niche as the brains and conscience of the group--and also as a rock-solid goalie when they play hockey (especially in Power Play).
- Other characters include:
- Raymond "Ray" (sometimes "Raymundo") Rocket (John Kassir), the widowed fortysomething father of Otto and Reggie and the owner of the Shore Shack (a beachside diner where the gang often chow down). Raymundo drives a vintage woodie.
- Tito Makani Jr. (Ray Bumatai), a Hawaiian surfer and self-styled philosopher who helps his old friend Raymundo run the business. He has a young nephew who occasionally visits from the islands, named Keoni Makani (professional surfer Matty Liu), who has appeared in a few episodes.
Catchphrase: "Like the ancient Hawaiians say, ..."
- Lars Rodriguez (Lombardo Boyar), a teenage tough guy, has taken it upon himself to make life difficult for his little brother Twister and the other kids from time to time. He is often seen in the company of his friends Pi, Sputs, and Animal.
- Eddie Valentine (Jordan Warkol), the self-styled "Prince of the Netherworld," is a sometime participant in the Rockets' activities and a frequent target of Lars' bullying. The son of a magician couple, he favors an outfit of a hooded cloak and a scary mask reminiscent of Darth Maul.
- Officer Shirley (CCH Pounder) does what she can to keep the peace.
- Sherry and Trish (both voiced by Lauren Tom), Reggie's best friends, surfers, and members of the state volleyball team. Have appeared in a handful of stories.
More about the show
Note: Some minor plot details follow.
A made for TV movie, Race Across New Zealand, was shown on Nickelodeon in February 2002 (opposite the Winter Olympics in [Salt Lake City]) and featured activities such as zorb riding and floating down underground streams, as part of a junior sports competition.
Another telefilm based on the series, Reggie's Big (Beach) Break, centering on a spring-break type sports and music beach festival, aired on that channel in July of 2003.
Klasky-Csupo announced shortly thereafter in their online newsletter that a third telefilm, Island of the Menehune, about a trip to Hawaii and telling a bit about Raymundo's late wife Danni or Danielle (who got a brief mention, but not by name, in the show's Christmas special in December 2003), would be shown on Nick at some time in the future, and it aired in July 2004. That telefilm subsequently led to a wedding between Ray and Tito's cousin Noelani (voice of Kim Mai Guest) in "The Big Day" (the last new ep to be aired) later the same month.
The show has also had cameos from sports figures, for example skaters Tony Hawk (Enter the Hawk-trix) and Andy MacDonald (...Beach Break), and hockey players Luc Robitaille and Martin Brodeur (Power Play). There have also been episodes on rather unusual topics: Radical New Equipment featured a (rather competitive) handicapped girl snowboarder and won an award from The Association for the Severely Handicapped, while Major Scrummage revolved around Reggie's desire to play rugby, a sport relatively unknown in the US (more details on the latter ep below).
Off the screen
Other projects related to Rocket Power and developed under the aegis of Klasky-Csupo and/or Nickelodeon have included like Beach Bandits, and Maximum Rocket Power Live: The Battle For Madtown Park , a live-action extreme-sports dramatic arena play that briefly toured the U.S. Midwest in spring 2002, before being cancelled over low ticket sales (it had originally been scheduled to tour about 40 cities all over the U.S., all the way into the fall).
Points of view
Fans of the show proudly point to the virtues of friendship, mutual loyalty, and physical activity exhibited by the principal characters, as well as the fact that ethnic characters in the show are voiced by ethnic talent (Nickelodeon's usual practice... on this show, this briefly had its own quirk when they had to explain Cuadra's deepened voice by having Twister get a deeper voice as well in Cinco de Twisto, before Cuadra was eventually replaced with Leal). As well, critics have noted the Reggie character as a strong, positive, and confident female role model not falling within cultural stereotypes (in fact, in New Zealand, she actually tied for first with Otto in the junior sports competition, competing against other boys, and in Beach Break, she got a job reporting for the sports fest). Health and safety advocates have also noted the show's emphasis on active lifestyles and the use of pads and helmets in activities where their use is recommended.
Detractors of the show are bothered by the Otto character being so capable, as well as being selfish (example: The Big Day has him attempting to postpone his father's wedding so that he may compete in a sports competition), the Twister character being somewhat clueless, the unrealistic slang the characters use (itself addressed in The Lingos), and hardly anybody ever getting hurt doing the activities depicted, though in one episode, Otto's Big Break, Otto was seen with a leg cast as a result of a snowboarding accident, and in another, Womp Race 2000, Sam was hospitalised by a skateboarding mishap (Losers Weepers also features Sam breaking his arm in a skateboarding mishap). The show also frequently uses very mild bad language ("crap" etc.), which has made it unpopular with more conservative parents.
Romance on the show
Despite generally being mostly about sports and the kids who play them, there has been some room for romance on the show. The show has had two official canon romances. However, both of them involved a regular and a character who only appeared in two stories.
Raymundo and Breezy
In April 2002, the show premiered an ep titled There's Something About Breezy, in which travelling salesman Breezy Copeley (voice of Jane Krakowski) was introduced. She was shown to be a keen rollerblader and surfer, and showed a distinct interest in Raymundo. Fans believed that the ep was hinting towards a marriage between the two some time down the road (later on, her bio at Klasky-Csupo's RP site, revamped in January 2003, also hinted at this).
The following month, Klasky Csupo promoted an upcoming ep titled "Summer Breezy" which featured Breezy going on a trip with the gang to Lake Havasu to test out some equipment. It turned out to be her only other appearance, and in the US, Nickelodeon ended up only airing this episode in March 2004.
The announcement of the "Island" telefilm, and a new girlfriend for Raymundo, surprised many fans, and was subsequently confirmed in a later edition of the newsletter. More on the Breezy issue can be found here.
Reggie and Trent
In the same week Breezy made her first appearance, a boy from New Zealand named Trent (voice of Greg Coolidge) was also introduced in the ep "Reggie/Regina". Reggie fell off her surfboard, on purpose actually, in order to get his attention. Like Breezy's debut ep, the ep not only showed him to be an accomplished skater and surfer, it also seemed to hint towards romance between the two (and as was the case with Breezy, his bio at the revamped RP page hinted at this as well).
His only other appearance in the series was in "Major Scrummage" (first US tx: October 14, 2002), where Reggie, somewhat frustrated that Trent wouldn't teach her rugby football (a sport he was shown to be very good at), put together a team of her own.
From his appearances, it would appear that while Trent seems interested in Reggie, it also seems that he somewhat does not accept girls like her to be good at certain sports. Also, outside from his appearances, Reggie does not seem to think about her relationship with him.
Besides the official pairings, there are many other pairings that have gained a following in the fandom. Two of the most popular pairings are within the gang: Reggie/Twiste and Reggie/Sam. Some fans have even gone to looking for hints that support their favorite coupling.
December 1998: New show "Rocket Beach" mentioned in Nickelodeon press release
June 1999: One of the characters, Reggie, featured in KC ad celebrating Nick's 20th birthday
August 16, 1999: Series premiere with New Squid on the Block and Down the Drain
November 10, 2000: Radical New Equipment aired, featuring a handicapped snowboarder (voiced by Olivia Hack, Rhonda on Hey Arnold!)
September 10, 2001: Enter the Hawk-trix aired, the first of many episodes featuring professional athletes (here, Tony Hawk)
November 2001: 2001 TASH Image Awards announced, with Rocket Power winning one in the "Young People’s Program: Animation" category for the aforementioned Radical New Equipment
February 16, 2002: Rocket Power's first telefilm Race Across New Zealand aired
March 26 to April 8, 2002: Maximum Rocket Power Live: The Battle For Madtown Park played in [Columbus, Ohio], [Chicago, Illinois], [Cleveland, Ohio], and [Detroit, Michigan], before being cancelled (about 33,000 tickets were sold in all)
April 9 and 11, 2002: Reggie/Regina and There's Something About Breezy aired, featuring the debuts of two new characters: respectively, Trent and Breezy (see above)
July 19, 2003: Rocket Power's 2nd telefilm Reggie's Big (Beach) Break aired
December 15, 2003: Rocket Power's first 30-minute story, and its Christmas special, A Rocket X-mas aired, with mention of Otto and Reggie's mother
March 22 to 26, 2004: Five "leftover" episodes aired, among them, the show's only non-holiday 30-minute story Twist of Fate and an episode that was produced in 2001 but wasn't aired until now, Losers Weepers and Reggie: The Movie
April 25, 2004: The 3rd telefilm (previously thought to be the last episode produced), Island of the Menehune, shown at 2004 International Family Film Festival in Valencia, California
May 15, 2004: Nickelodeon announced a contest in which 4 winners will receive a 1-week trip for four to Hawaii for surfing lessons.(Contest Site)
June 16, 2004: Previously unknown ep After Shocked aired, featuring Noelani as Ray's new wife (the ep that features their marriage, The Big Day, would not air until July 30)
July 16 and 27, 2004: Island aired on Nick US and was released on DVD, respectively