Cartoons

Cult Cartoon Essentials: Roger Ramjet

Roger Ramjet is an animated American children’s television comedy series that first ran in 1965 and has aired in syndication since. Starring Roger Ramjet and the American Eagle Squadron, the show was known for its crude animation, frenetic pace, and frequent references to popular culture, which allowed the show to entertain various age groups. It ran for five seasons, totalling at 156 episodes.

Roger Ramjet is a patriotic and highly moral — if not very bright — hero, who is typically out to save the world, with help from his Proton Energy Pills (“PEP”), which give him “the strength of twenty atom bombs for a period of twenty seconds”. The world is invariably saved by dispensing violence towards the various recurring criminals who populated the series.

On government missions assigned by General G.I. Brassbottom, Ramjet encounters various nemeses during his missions. Typically he is caught, and must be rescued by his crew of sidekicks, the American Eagles: Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee (a play on Yankee Doodle Dandy). Although his Eagles appear to be children, each of them, except for Dee, flies his own individual ramjet aircraft expertly, and they are obviously much more savvy than their leader.

The various recurring criminals include:

  • The Solenoid Robots, who talk in barely understandable electronic voices
  • Gangster Noodles Romanoff and his evil organization N.A.S.T.Y. (National Association of Spies, Traitors and Yahoos)
  • Red Dog the Pirate
  • Foreign spy femme fatale Jacqueline Hyde
  • Tequila Mockingbird

Most of the criminals had nearly identical bands of three or four henchmen who all mumbled different phrases at once, resulting in incomprehensible chatter. Another recurring, non-criminal character in the series was sportscaster Vincent Yafnarro, who appeared in several sports-related episodes. Roger’s mother, Ma Ramjet, appeared in several episodes; her voice was an imitation of Jonathan Winters’ “Maude Frickert” character, and she had her own variation on her son’s Proton Pills, “Ma Ramjet’s Atomic Vitamins, for Old People Whose Get-Up-and-Go Got Up and Left.”

Along the way, Lance Crossfire, Ramjet’s rival for the affections of Lotta Love, is also likely to get in the way. Lance’s face looks like (and his voice sounds like) actor Burt Lancaster. When Lance and Roger cross paths, neither wins: in one episode, Lotta ends up going out with General Brassbottom, who promises the two men that he will take care of her. As is his way, Roger does not realize that they have both lost—unlike Lance, who inevitably ends these cartoons with the phrase, “Oh, Roger — shut up!”

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