Has it really been almost twenty years since Rocko's Modern Life premiered on TV? How the world has changed, in both material and conceptual ways. Who would have thought in 1993 that you would have children's shows using the word "crappy," or the vast number of animated human buttocks there would one day be! But even in the dark times of the early '90's, RLM was pushing the boundaries of what could be implied--in the words of TV Tropes, of getting crap past the radar. Even the very title of Nickelodeon's (the Kid's Channel!) The Angry Beavers carries within itself a double entendre, despite the fact that it is about two brothers who are beavers and are often angry.
Cartoons, while written for kids, are written by adults, and often with a look over at the other adults who many a time have to watch with the kids. And very creative people working within the kind of restraints placed on children's programming can produce sly, high quality work that appeals across age groupings.
These are not the shows of my childhood, or even of the generation after mine. But they bring back memories of a time, otherwise not yet remarked by nostalgia, and cause a realization of the passage of time, both by their assumptions and touchstones, since transmuted or superseded, and by what is not in their cultural vocabulary.
I am brought up short when my nephew (who is watching these shows with me) asks me to explain some reference or item that seems totally obvious to me, but which the tides of time have swept out of significance. It reminds me of watching the Loony Tunes when I was a child, with the dozens of celebrities and catchphrases that I simply accepted at the time as merely funny-looking or bizarre in their non sequitur silliness, the true point or reference which I learned only after years of picking up the history (I had no uncle to question, or none I would ever have thought to bother to ask).
Rocko' Modern Life and The Angry Beavers have not been available on TV for some time, and RML has only been available in anthologies (not complete seasons) until now; AB, never before in any form. Many of my favorite episodes from either show have not appeared yet; I pray nothing disrupts the business till are are produced.