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BORIS & NATASHA

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Full Name: Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale
Nationality: Pottsylvanian
Organization: Fearless Leader
Occupation Agent

Creator: Bill Scott
Time Span: 1959 - 2019

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are agents with the Pottsylvania Secret Police.
       The Secret Police is just an assumption on my part. We do not really learn what the organization is called but that would be fairly standard for an Eastern European country run by a dictator. We know that the country is fairly small from a map we are shown of it but it at least enjoys a coast which several sister countries do not. The power resides in the hands of the Fearless Leader who looks very much like a stereotypical fascist usually seen in a starched blue military officer's uniform with black jackboots, a monocle in his right eye, a nasty long saber scar on his right cheek, a permanent scowl on his face, and perpetually holding a cigarette in a long holder. He certainly does not look friendly nor does he ever act it, especially to his underlings.
       Boris and Natasha (their last names are almost never used) are two of his main underlings. Since we do not see any others, ever, they may be the only two around but that is pure speculation.

       Boris is a very short, wide man constantly dressed in a black trenchcoat (unless in disguise) and sporting a black hat with two peaks on it. He sports a very small mustache which is large on both sides of his upper lip and none (or none visible) under his nose. When we first meet him, he seems a bit taller than he does in later adventures. He perpetually sports either a frown or a sneer.
       Boris loves to go into action while in disguise. His personas are pretty lame and hardly worth the make-up and props he uses but they do seem to continually fool his chief target, Bullwinkle J. Moose. His other talents include safe-cracking and bomb-making, although the later tends to not work out so well for him. Boris refers to himself as the "world's greatest no-goodnik" and he has never performed any action to indicate otherwise.

       Natasha is the gorgeous, tall, femme fatale (as befits her last name) companion and partner of Boris. Like him she hails from Pottsylvania and talks with an Eastern European accent. It sometimes nears Germanic but usually lies closer to Russian in sound. Her height is, while not extreme, is still high enough to be above most of those she encounters. Certainly she towers over the diminutive Boris. She has long black hair falling below her shoulders and is quite curly at the ends.
       While she too will be seen from time to time in disguise, she does not seem as inclined to do so as her partner. She is usually shown to be the equal to Boris even if he does yell for her to "sharrup you mouth" a lot but it would not be hard to imagine that she is the smarter of the two, especially considering that she does not blow herself up as often as he does.

       Both Boris and Natasha swear allegiance to the Fearless Leader but they are not above deceiving him over and over, especially if it keeps him from punishing them.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:2
First Appearance:1992
Last Appearance:2000

1 Boris And Natasha Boris And Natasha
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writers: Jay Ward, Charles Fradin, Brad Hall, Linda Favila, Anson Downes
Actors: Sally Kellerman as Natasha Fatale, Dave Thomas as Boris Badunov, Christopher Neame as Fearless Leader, John Candy as Kalishak
Released: 1992

Boris and Natasha have been sent to America to locate and get for their Fearless Leader a new microchip. During the mission, they begin to wonder why they are doing what they are doing.

2 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Director: Des McAnuff
Writers: Jay Ward, Kenneth Lonergan
Actors: Jason Alexander as Boris, Rene Russo as Natasha, Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader, Piper Perabo as Karen Sympathy
Released: 2000

When Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader are able to escape from Pottsylvania into the real world where they are planning on turning all minds into mush so Fearless Leader can be elected President. FBI agent Karen Sympathy must pull Rocky and Bullwinkle in to help stop the trio.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:1
First Appearance:1959
Last Appearance:2019
Network:ABC & NBC

REGULAR CAST
June ForayRocky and Natasha [ 1-5 ]
Bill ScottBullwinkle and Fearless Leader [ 1-5 ]
Paul FreesBoris [ 1-5 ]
William Conradnarrator [ 1-5 ]
Tara StrongRocky [ 6 ]
Brad NormanBullwinkle [ 6 ]
Ben DiskinBoris [ 6 ]
Rachel ButeraNatasha [ 6 ]
Piotr MichaelFearless Leader [ 6 ]
Daran Norrisnarrator [ 6 ]

       In 1959, a children's cartoon show about a squirrel and a moose became a big hit on television. The show would have several names during its life but its most common one is The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. It was created by Jay Ward whose eponymously named company produced it. It would run with new episodes from November 1959 to June 1964 and then last to this day as reruns in syndication.
       While Rocket J. ("Rocky") Squirrel, a short little grey squirrel who perpetually wears a set of blue goggles set atop his head, and his best friend Bullwinkle J. Moose, an often dim-witted but always lovable brown moose with orange antlers, were never spies or operatives or anything that might qualify them for membership in this collection, they were invariably doing something that either sparked the interest of Boris & Natasha or stood in the way of the nefarious duo.
       The five seasons of episodes consisted of several story arcs. Some of these arcs were rather lengthy while a few were quite short. Each broadcast had two segments in these arcs, as well as other storylines for other characters.
       Wikipedia has a terrific breakdown of the history of the show.

       In 2017, Dreamworks Animation Television decided to acquire the rights to produce new adventures for Internet streaming. It ran in two sets of segments of Season 6, with three story arcs released in 2018 and the other three in 2019.


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COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:86
First Appearance:1960
Last Appearance:2018

       A year after the Rocky and Bullwinkle show was first aired on television, Dell Publications came out with a series of comic book adventures of the two characters as well as their constant nemeses, Boris and Natasha. These were in the Dell Four Color imprint which contained a lot of different stars in its pages over the years. No one storyline dominated the comic from issue to issue as variety seemed the intent.
       Dell put out 7 issues of Four Color devoted to the pair though sometimes Rocky got top billing and other times Bullwinkle did. There were also two stand-alone issues of stories.
       Gold Key would try its hand at stories, coming out in 1963 with two issues. Charlton Comics would take over after a seven year hiatus with 7 issues where Bullwinkle had top billing, lasting two years. Gold Key would return to the title in 1972 and go until 1979 with a mixture of new stories and repeats of its own and of Dell's.
       In the Fall of 1987, Marvel Comics' Star Comics label would bring Moose and Squirrel back for new stories for a couple of years. then we leap ahead to 2014 when IDW tried its hand at adventures in 4 issues.
       American Mythology Productions gave us 3 issues of stories in 2017.

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Comic Strips


Number of Arcs:1
Number of Strips:904
First Appearance:9999
Last Appearance:1000

       In the 90+ adventures in comicbook format that Dell and Gold Key produced in the early 60s and then concluded in the early 70s, many were by the hand of the extremely talented Al Kilgore. Comics.org, an industry expert, credits all of them to Kilgore but at least one websites contests Kilgore's having done them all.
       Kilgore had a terrific gift of giving the audience, which ran ostentiably to children but plainly had a lot of adult followers as well. He never talked down to the kids and he gave enough unoffending but still satirical bite to the stories that grown-ups could get a lot out of them.
       I do not know who approached whom but in July, 1962, Bell-McClure Syndicate brought out a daily (Mon-Sat) strip entitled Bullwinkle. It was drawn and written by Kilgore during its run of 3 years, 900+ strips. These adventures were extremely topical as well as being timeless in that the adventures could happen most any time but there were numerous instances of name-dropping to mark their place in history. Most notably were the frequent references to JFK prior to his assassination.

NOTE: I have finally accumulated all the strips and am slowly piecing together the story arcs.

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MY COMMENTS

       I want to believe that any fan of spy fiction would give at least a small smile to the inclusion of Boris and Natasha in any compendium devoted to spy series fiction. I mean, really! Who are more spy-nasty and iconic and stereotypical than these two? They were created specifically for this and they both play it wonderfully.
       I had a blast going back to my childhood when these no-goodniks first showed up. One thing that occurred to me as I reminisced was that so much of what I watched had to have gone over my head and I didn't notice and obviously didn't care but now as a somewhat older (albeit only marginally more mature) individual, watching them again and reading the comics and especially enjoying the heck out of the comic strips, I am still a huge fan.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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