|"Daredevil, Flying Fool and All-Around Good Guy."
That's how Roger Ramjet was introduced to his viewers every week in this underappreciated superhero satire. The show followed the adventures of a research scientist who, after taking his Proton Energy Pill, was endowed with the AMAZING power of twenty atom bombs. Each Proton Pill only lasted 20 seconds, but when the effects wore off, Ramjet's natural weapon came forth: his unabashedly unstoppable patriotism.
Ramjet, voiced by Gary Owens of Laugh-In, was the leader of the American Eagle Squadron, a group of four children-Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee (the lone girl)-who helped the hero in his crusade against evil. Though loyal, these astute Squadron members sometimes questioned their leader's antics. The creators of Roger Ramjet played up their hero's American pride to the point of ridiculousness-nearly every time his name was mentioned, an eagle, flag or a rotating circle of stars would magically appear on the screen-to simultaneously celebrate and poke fun at Roger's determined Americanism.
Every superhero has an arch-nemisis, and Roger Ramjet was no exception. Who better to continually anger our hero than the utterly unpatriotic Noodles Romanoff and his evil organization N.A.S.T.Y. (the National Association of Spies, Traitors and Yahoos)?
Roger had other problems on his hands. Another superhero, Lance Crossfire, was constantly getting in his way, as was his mother, Ma Ramjet, who would take it upon herself to get involved in his battles and become a major source of embarrassment for her son. Meanwhile, his frustrated girlfriend, "Lotta Love" (perhaps a G-rated version of a Bond girl?) alternated between pride and worry about her single-minded man.
Much like The Bullwinkle Show, with which the show was often compared, Roger Ramjet was filled with clever puns, cultural references and Hollywood in-jokes. And like Dudley Do-Right, Ramjet was a good role model for kids. He was trustworthy, brave, jingoistic and always believed that he could make the world a better place.
It has been rumored that Roger's dependency on chemical stimulants (the aforementioned Proton Energy Pill) kept the show off the market in reruns for decades. Other theories for the cartoon's state of obscurity include its parent-aimed dialogue, which often went over kids' heads, and the show's very crude animation. At any rate, Roger Ramjet was rarely picked up for rerun syndication.
Say what you will about Ramjet, but he made a lasting impression on those who did manage to catch his short-lived reign.