Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life: Different Ways To Reboot A Show

Nickelodeon and Netflix have pumped up the nostalgia factor and brought back two cartoons from our childhood. Rocko’s Modern Life and Invader Zim both have movies/TV Specials on the streaming service after years of being off the air. It genuinely put a smile on my face to see not one, but two older cartoons had gotten belated finales/reboots on Netflix. Like most millennials, when I was a child cartoons filled my afternoons and weekends. I had not watched Either of these shows since they had been off the air so there was a bit of time where I didn’t remember what was going on or where the shows had left off. But they both excel at bringing you back fast and standing as single events for new viewers.

Both of these movies have one shared theme: they were made by the original developers and made for the original fans. Specifically with the fact that moat fans are now older and no longer free children but humans smack dab in the middle of adulthood that have longed for the nostalgic feeling of their childhoods. ‘Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus’ plays off of the idea that it is unhealthy to care so much about things that are trivial, wether it be a huamn that only focuses on their neighbor or an alien that wants to matter to his overlords. While ‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ tells a story with a lot more meta, about how the world has changed and we as fans need to change with it and take old TV shows and reboots so serious. I think both had very important messages while at the same time giving the fans the same fun and craziness that Nikelodeon shows were known for.


Invader Zim Is Still Obsessed


Enter the Florpus is a movie that warns the audience about what happens when you can’t move on. It starts by showing how Dib has just been sitting in his room the entire time the show has been off the air, just waiting for Zim to return. This life reflects part of the fan base that spends all day streaming at their computer screens talking about their nostalgia and not seeing the world around them move on, and it ruins people. Zim on the other hand has been obsessed with The Tallest (like he was throughout the entire show) which ultimately destroys him when he realizes the truth, that they don’t care. These are the types of people that attach emotions and personally attach to something/someone that might as well be a million miles away.

There are a few more jokes and plot elements that go off of this theme, however I don’t think it drowned out the quality of the show. This was a movie any Invader Zim fan could be happy with. We got to see the weird art, crazy animations, fun characters, and stupid funny jokes once again while also getting a story that would be a fine finale. Zim actually carries out a master plan, The Tallest interact with Earth, and Mr. Membrane knows about aliens. The stuff we always waited to happen every single episode actually happens and it was amazing. The movie could stand on its own while also making people who watched the show happy to revisit.


Rocko’s Modern Life Embraces Change


Static Cling starts off where the finale of the show ended, in space. This program was a lot weirder and had a more direct approach to social commentary when it was on the air, so it makes sense the TV special has a heavier hand with their message to the fans. This movie tried to tell people to embrace the change of the world. Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt return to O-Town 20 years later and see how different the 21st century is. Energy drinks, Starbucks, 3D Printers, and social media are just a few things the show makes fun of. The main story revolved around Rocko wanting a reboot for his favorite old show: The Fatheads. Ralph Bighead, the creator of that show, went through some changes and Rocko has to help people accept that change.

the story then goes on and gives Rocko his Fathead’s TV Special, which has a few changes of its own. In full meta fashion, Rocko cannot accept the fact his favorite show has now changed. The literal ‘winds of change’ has to tell the characters how it is ok to move on and accept change. Living in the past is no way to live at all. The show is obviously telling their own fans this message. How it is nice to have loved the old cartoons you grew up with, but they (and really everything else) will never be as important as the people around you that you love.


Nickelodeon’s Look At The Past


Although I have very different views of these two movies, I loved watching them. Both were clearly created with love in their hearts. Lately more and more shows have been getting belated endings. Deadwood and Twin Peaks even got to have another shot on HBO and Showtime. Some of the Nickelodeon shows got to finish. Last Airbender fans got an entire spinoff TV series. After watching the Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life movies I got sucked into a memory pool of all the old shows I loved as a kid, and it got me wanting more reboots, however we don’t need them and I’m not going to get made if they aren’t what I was expecting.

The main message I got from both of these movies was that it is okay to move on. Sometimes things are better left in our childhoods. Change happens, we grow up and become different people. Even if I watched the Invader Zim show today, it wouldn’t be the same as when I watched it as a child. A lot of internet comments are full of the Fandom Menace making demands and threats, twisting what nostalgia means. Cartoons are meant to make you smile, and it we’re lucky, can also make us think. Netflix and Nickelodeon just came together and did these belated finales/reboots real justice.


Movies watched and review written by: Troy Smith


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