ROGER RAMJETMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Pantomime Pictures
First Appeared: 1965
Creator: Fred Crippen
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perfectly timed. That, combined with the fact that it was a very good parody, made it an enduring classic, fondly remembered for decades.
Like Super Chicken, Hourman and Atomic Mouse, Roger Ramjet gets his extraordinary abilities from drugs. His Proton Energy Pills gave him the power of 10,000 atomic bombs for ten seconds — but what he felt like during the 11th second wasn't specified. (Note: a prominent reference book gives the numbers as 20 bombs, 20 seconds, and that was copied into many subsequent works. The 10 and 10,000 figures were copied directly from actual cartoons.)
Roger was assisted by his youthful American Eagle Squadron (no relation) (three boys and a girl, named Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee, no relation). Other supporting characters included General G.I. Brassbottom, who gave him his assignments; Ma Ramjet, his mother; Lotta Love, his girlfriend; Lance Crossfire, a rival superhero; and a host of villains, such as Red Dog the Pirate, gangster Noodles Romanoff and — of course — the Solenoid Robots. Roger's voice was provided by Gary Owens, whose other credits include Space Ghost. Other voices were by Bob Arbogast (several voices in The Jetsons), Dick Beals (Ralph Phillips), and Joan Gerber (Mrs. Beakley on DuckTales). Jim Thurman and Gene Moss, who wrote the scripts, and Paul Shively, who wrote the theme song, also provided voices, as did producer Ken Snyder. The announcer was Dave Ketchum.
Instead of showing the awful mayhem a man with the power of 10,000 atom bombs is capable of (even if it does last only ten seconds), animators filled the screen with written sound effects — anticipating by several months the Batman TV show's use of the same technique. One effect of this was to appease the aversion to violence on the part of the television censors who were just then starting to flex their muscles. Another was to avoid stretching the meager budget by actually animating such a scene — like the earlier Tom Terrific and Rocky & Bullwinkle, Roger Ramjet was a triumph of clever writing over abysmal production values.
Roger's 156 episodes (which aired at a rate of four per half-hour show) were never part of a network's schedule — they were syndicated from the start. As such, they were seen in the out-of-the-way time slots of some video markets as long as 20 years after they were made. They were a production of Pantomime Pictures, which was also responsible for Skyhawks. Cable TV's Family Channel aired it in the late 1980s and early '90s. Roger was seen on Cartoon Network as recently as the late 1990s.
There are no cartoons, big little books, Little Golden Books or other licensed versions — only the cartoons on TV and an occasional videotape compilation. But that's been enough to keep interest in the character alive for generations.