Rocket Power is a North American animated television series that debuted on Nickelodeon on August 16, 1999 and ran until July 30, 2004. Since the series' cancellation, the series continued airing reruns on Nickelodeon until 2007. As part of the Nick on CBS block, it aired on CBS from 2002 to 2005. The NickToons network aired the series from 2002 to 2010. Nick GAS also aired the series from 2003 to 2005. The series most recently reran on TeenNick's block NickSplat (formerly The '90s Are All That) from June 2014 to February 2017.
About the show
Rocket Power was the 4th show made for Nickelodeon by animators Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (the creators of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys and As Told By Ginger) and serves as the 13th entry in the Nicktoons franchise. The show revolves around the day-to-day adventures of a gang of four young friends who live in the fictitious Southern California beach resort town of Ocean Shores where they spend their free time playing extreme sports (such as Skateboarding, Surfing, Snowboarding, etc.), getting into various situations and overcoming the trials and challenges of growing up. Due to the activities on the show's 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 half-pipes worked with some degree of credibility.
The principal characters in the show are:
- Oswald "Otto" Rocket (Joseph Ashton) The self-appointed and charismatic leader of the gang. Otto is a gifted, adventurous, vain and highly competitive 11-year old extreme sports enthusiast and is dedicated to the pursuit of athletic perfection in the hopes of achieving his ambition of becoming a world-famous athlete and in turn, become one of the world's greatest action sports superstars of all time. While he can be short-tempered and selfish at times, Otto is a kind and loyal person at heart and will always help his friends and family whenever they need it the most.
- Regina "Reggie" Rocket (Shayna Fox) Otto's tomboyish and responsible 12-year old sister. Reggie is an aspiring publisher and author who writes and owns a blog-type magazine called "The 'Zine" that covers everything from extreme sports to 'kid politics.' Reggie is also an all-star athlete like her talented brother and while she's no less skillful and competitive as him, she has a more level-headed disposition as well as possessing greater maturity.
- Maurice "Twister" Rodriguez (Ulises Cuadra; Gilbert Leal) Otto's best bud and partner in crime. Twister is not exactly known for his intelligence as he's somewhat dim-witted, often oblivious, and has a gullibility streak. But despite his lack of intelligence, Twister has proven that he can be quite clever at times and has a real knack for videography. He hates being called by his real name and is constantly bullied around by his older brother, Lars.
- Sam "Squid" Dullard (Sam Saletta; Gary LeRoi Gray; Sean Marquette) A Hutchinson, Kansas native and relative newcomer. Sam is nowhere near as athletically gifted as the others and is often the most clumsy and timid member of the gang (though his skills and self-confidence evolve over time), but he makes up for his lack of style and grace with his superior intellect, expert computer skills, and by being a rock-solid goalie whenever he plays street hockey.
- Other characters include:
- Ray "Raymundo" Rocket (John Kassir) Raymundo is Otto and Reggie's strict but loving forty-something father, legendary surfer, and owner of the Shore Shack—a restaurant and surf shop where the gang usually hang out. The Shore Shack is part of a two story Mission Revival building next to a music store shaped like an old-fashion radio. Raymundo drives a 1962 Mercury Woodie Wagon and has developed a fear of dogs after watching a movie called "Attack of the 50 ft. Poodles" as a kid.
- Tito Makani (Ray Bumatai) Tito is a retired Hawaiian surfer and self-styled philosopher who not only helps his best and oldest friend Raymundo run the Shore Shack, but also provides the gang with helpful advice and valuable life lessons with his own unique brand of wisdom. Tito usually starts his advice with "Like the ancient Hawaiians say..." He has a young nephew who occasionally visits from the Hawaiian Islands named Keoni (voiced by professional surfer Matty Liu).
- Lars Rodriguez (Lombardo Boyar) Lars is Twister's punk-like older brother who hassles the gang from time to time, bullies Twister on a regular basis, and generally spends his free time being up to no good. He is also a fiercely competitive athlete and is Otto's biggest competitive and social rival. Despite him constantly tormenting Twister, Lars has shown that he truly does care about him deep down and would never want anything actually bad to happen to him. He's often accompanied by his three teenage henchmen: Pi Piston, Sputz Ringley and on occasion, Animal.
- Eddie Valentine (Jordan Warkol) The gothic and self-proclaimed "Prince of the Netherworld" is a recurring participant in the Rockets' activities and a frequent target of Lars' bullying. Eddie's love for all things dark and spooky stems from him being the son of a magician couple. He favors an outfit of a hooded cloak and a scary mask.
- Officer Shirley (CCH Pounder) A seldom-seen police officer who does what she can in order to try to keep the peace. Not so much the long arm of the law but rather the harsh word of the law as Officer Shirley keeps the kids of Ocean Shores in line with equal amounts of tough talk and niceness. She enjoys a friendship with Raymundo to whom she often refers to as "Big Ray."
- Trish and Sherry (both voiced by Lauren Tom) Reggie's best friends, fellow athletes and surfers, and members of the California All-State Girls' volleyball team. They occasionally appear to join in on the gang's activities.
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 episode 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 episode 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 US).
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 (This was Nickelodeon's usual practice on this show as 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 another 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 episode 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 episode 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 episode 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 episode "Reggie/Regina". Reggie fell off her surfboard, on purpose actually, in order to get his attention. Like Breezy's debut episode, the episode 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 was frustrated that Trent wouldn't teach her rugby football (a sport he was shown to be very good at) and 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/Twister 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 it's 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 episode 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 a 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 episode After Shocked aired, featuring Noelani as Ray's new wife (the episode 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.