It was exactly 50 years ago today that a little show called Rocky and His Friends debuted on ABC, bringing an animated crew of kooky characters — led by the naive Rocky and Bullwinkle and constantly scheming Natasha and Boris — into the American pop culture menagerie.

The genius of Rocky & Bullwinkle, which was so simple in its clever madness, could be easily overlooked, if you wanted. But how many animated series are out there — especially today — that are so sweet and completely watchable? Sure, today on television I delight in the demented social commentary of South Park and the biting hilarity of The Simpsons. (Fun fact: The Simpsons creator Matt Groening gave three members of The Simpsons clan — Homer, Bart, and Grandpa — the middle initial “J” as homage to Rocky & Bullwinkle creator Jay Ward? And, the opening credits from a season 9 episode are taken from Rocky.) But there’s something just delightful — and, obviously, downright nostalgic— about an episode chronicling the simple goings-on between Rock and B-Wink as they fend off Boris and Natasha. I spent a lot of my childhood watching these reruns. Takes me back.

This morning, to celebrate the show’s birthday, I just found myself digging through old clips from the show on the RetroHero YouTube page (they’re not blog-embeddable, so that’s why I’m linking!) and just smiling. How can you not love this squirrel and moose pair? (Personally, though, the nasty Natasha was always my favorite.) For a little trip back to Frostbite Falls, Minn., where Rocky and Bullwinkle lived, you can enjoy the show’s original opening credits here:

There are lots of other clips out there to enjoy, too, as you celebrate the show’s 50th birthday. But first, tell me: Were you a big Rocky & Bullwinkle fan? Who’s your favorite character? (Where are my other Natasha-lovers?) A favorite short? Tell me in the comments!

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