Are you more likely to part with money if you're laughing? That seems to be the question posed by tonight's pledge period programming on Maryland Public Television, which is offering three of the funniest PBS programs of the last year.
The lineup includes "Of Moose and Men: The Rocky & Bullwinkle Story," at 7:30, "An Audience With Jackie Mason" at 9 and "Great Performances: The World of Jewish Humor" at 10:08.
Because Media Monitor missed writing about the first of these when it aired in the spring, now is a good time for a short trivia quiz about the sharply satirical cartoon series created by the late Jay Ward (and Bill Scott) on ABC in 1959.
1. What were Rocky and Bullwinkle's full names?
2. What were the full names of obvious Soviet villains Boris and Natasha, and who did they work for?
3. What other animated series with a somewhat similar parodic tone was Ward responsible for? (Hint: One preceded, the other followed the "Rocky" show.)
4. What marvelous character actor of Hollywood movie fame narrated the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segments, and what series did he move on to after the Rocky show, although he was 79 years old when filming began?
While you're pondering, it is interesting to note that Rocky and Bullwinkle actually were part of two different shows, the original "Rocky and His Friends" that ran on ABC from November 1959 to September 1961, and "The Bullwinkle Show." The latter ran on NBC from September 1961 to September 1964, then moved back to ABC on Saturday mornings until September 1973. (The latter can also be seen weekdays at 5:30 p.m. in Baltimore, on WBFF-Channel 45.)
And now the answers (with sources including Alex McNeil's "Total Television" and Fred L. Worth's "Super Trivia Encyclopedia"):
1. Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose were the full names of the stars. (What did the "J." stand for? We couldn't find out, but hazard a guess that it referred to June Foray, the actress who did the voices of Rocky and Natasha.)
2. Boris was Boris Badenov (a typically literate reference, to the Moussorgsky opera "Boris Godunof") and Natasha was at different times Natasha Nogoodnik or Natasha Fatal. Both worked for the villain known only as "Mr. Big."
3. Ward earlier had made "Crusader Rabbit" (1949-57), which originally aired in five-minute segments in early years and whose characters (the title rabbit and Rags the tiger) were a lot like Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ward subsequently created "George of the Jungle" on Saturday mornings (1967-70), and also came up with Cap'n Crunch, the cereal salesman.
4. Edward Everett Horton, a comedy foil in countless films of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, told the "Fractured Fairy Tales," then became medicine man Roaring Chicken on "F Troop" (1965-67).