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The Looney Tunes Show preview – CartoonClack

Everyone loves the Looney Tunes. They're a staple of American culture. But what happens when a new generation of animators interprets those characters? Well, we're going to find out ...

Honestly, how could anyone not like the Looney Tunes? I don’t know if anything has shaped my sense  of humor the way the original Warner Bros. cartoons did when I was growing up. Whether it was Bugs tricking Daffy into saying “duck season,” Pepe le Pew skipping towards the accidental love of his life or Wile E. Coyote getting squashed by a boulder, I would absorb the funny like a sponge every Saturday morning. Even my mom — who is rather nonplussed about cartoons — used to tell me how Looney Tunes was the one show she and her dad sat down and watched together (back when there were only a handful of channels!).

Looney Tunes has endured through many generations, but they don’t play the cartoons on television as much as they used to. For a long time, I’ve been worried that this new generation of kids won’t get exposed to these wonderful characters. So, when I heard there was going to be a Looney Tunes show coming this year, I was hesitantly optimistic. Through the magic of CliqueClack — we are magic — I was able to get a couple preview episodes of the new series (which premieres this upcoming Tuesday, May 3rd at 8:00 PM EST on Cartoon Network). There are some good parts, but it has its share of flaws. Heck, let’s get into it already.

The series has a solid storyline — Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are roommates in a house in the suburbs. The different Looney Tunes characters live in the town, too, but the stories seem to be mostly around Bugs and Daffy. I actually didn’t see too many of the side characters in the preview episodes, but if you look at the show’s site, they have profiles for Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Tweety, Sylvester and other characters that weren’t in those episodes.

So, I watched two episodes. First episode, Daffy convinces Bugs to go on a game show that tests best friends on how much they know each other … except Daffy doesn’t seem to know much about Bugs at all. There were some funny moments, especially with some of Daffy’s wrong answers. Not every joke works, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh. We also get to see the always cheerful — but often too cheerful– gophers Mac and Tosh (who have apparently had those names decades before Steve Jobs thought of Apple. Who knew?). Probably the highlight of the episode is when Bugs, trying in vain to tell Daffy more about himself, convinces his roommate that he’s actually a son of Krypton — the faux-flashback that ensues is a spot-on parody of the original Superman movie, complete with Marlon Brando impersonation. Because Warner Bros. owns the rights to DC, I expect to see a whole lot of Superman and Batman jokes in this show.

This episode also introduces Speedy Gonzales as Bug’s friend. I’m a little shocked they brought Speedy into the series. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love his cartoons … “Andele! Andele!” was a part of my vocabulary from a very young age, much to the chagrin of my mother. Looking back though, Speedy was probably one of the least PC characters in the old shorts. I think they toned down some of that for this new series … and I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that they didn’t include his cousin Slowpoke, the Mexican mouse who is not only slow and lazy, but also packs heat.

In the second preview episode, Bugs meets Lola Bunny. For those of you who did not have children in the ’90s to drag you to the movies, there was a little film called Space Jam, which had Michael Jordan and Bill Murray playing basketball with the Looney Tunes (I swear, it made sense at the time. Don’t judge us for loving it.). Because there weren’t really any girl characters besides Granny, the writers wrote in a basketball-playing girl rabbit named Lola as a love interest for Bugs. Besides playing basketball, Lola had absolutely no personality. So, when the writers of The Looney Tunes Show decided to add her in, they could make her whatever they wanted her to be. And … they made her bad shit crazy. You know, like all women. I’m not saying the episode wasn’t funny — I actually enjoyed watching her frustrate Bugs more and more. A lot of the reason I enjoyed the episode was the voicework by Kristen Wiig, who I adored in Paul earlier this year. Still, when you have so few female characters in your kids’ show, why does the main one have to be possessive and nuts?

While Bugs struggles in Lola’s embrace, Daffy has conned his way into a country club membership. With his abuse of power (“Golf clubs for everyone!”), Daffy stole the episode. Actually, from what I’ve seen, Daffy is stealing the whole show. He’s really the funniest part of the series because he’s actually doing something. He’s getting into scrapes and making things happen, which is where the funny is.  Our favorite rabbit is just so dry. I think so much of this is because there’s no one pursuing him; Elmer isn’t hunting him, Taz isn’t trying to eat him and the abominable snowman isn’t trying to make Bugs his rag doll. The Bugs Bunny cartoons were always my favorite as a kid, but with these very sitcom-y situations, Bugs is the straight man to Daffy’s off-the-wall personality. I like Daffy in the show, but I want to see that spark in Bugs. Befuddle a villain! Light a stick of dynamite! Dress in drag, for cripe’s sake!

One of the biggest things the series has going for it is an amazing cast, including Maurice LaMarche, Billy West, Rob Paulson and  Jess Harnell, just to name a few. Considering how many of these actors were regulars on Animaniacs (the ’90s successor to the original Looney Tunes shorts and one of my favorite shows ever), I feel like we are in good hands, at least vocally.

There are the two types of shorts you can find wedged into the show during act breaks. First, we’ve got the Road Runner/Coyote cartoons. In a lot of ways, this was the most daring update for the show; this is the only section that is CGI. However, this is also the part that keeps the original format. Wile gets a gadget. Wile chases the Road Runner. Wile fall off a cliff/gets hit by a boulder/gets blown to smithereens. There is a very nostalgic feel to the Road Runner short that played during the preview, and I’m hoping the rest are more of the same.

Now, the other shorts in this show are called “Merrie Melodies,” named after the other name for the Looney Tunes shorts. The Melodies are just that … music videos featuring characters like Marvin the Martian and Elmer Fudd. These were awful. Just terrible. The Marvin one was a rap (kind of), and the Elmer one was a creepy, Marvin Gaye sort of love song to a grilled cheese sandwich. I have the feeling they were parodying popular songs I must be too out of touch to recognize, but the segments felt random and lame and like the show was trying desperately to be hip. You don’t have to be hip, Looney Tunes. Just be funny.

So, what’s The Looney Tunes Show like? Well, not as bad as it could have been. I enjoyed most of the jokes, the vocal work is definitely on the right track and I can appreciate Cartoon Network trying something new with the characters while keeping them basically grounded in their 20th Century personalities (no Loonatics here). That being said, I do wish they’d do more with Bugs, and I really can’t stand the Merrie Melodies. If you’re wondering if your kids should watch it, I’d say yes for Daffy and the Road Runner shorts specifically. But maybe get yourself one of the “Best of Looney Tunes” boxsets while you’re at it … a child’s comedic education should start at home, after all.

Photo Credit: Cartoon Network

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6 Responses to “The Looney Tunes Show preview – CartoonClack”

April 28, 2011 at 3:00 PM

The whole thing sounds awful. I feel sorry for kids who watch this, completely ignorant of the awesomeness that is the real Looney Tunes Shorts.

April 28, 2011 at 4:51 PM

I would hope these keep the same spirit as the “Animaniacs” which carried a lot of the same feel as the original “Looney Tunes,” but these clips seemed bland as hell and then there’s that double-edged sword of having to walk the PC line.

First you mention being a little shocked that Speedy Gonzales was included and relieved that Slowpoke wasn’t, but later complain about how bland Bugs is, wishing he would do something like light a stick of dynamite. As thin skinned and easily offended as so many people seem to be today I’m sure someone would take issue to Bugs using explosives (He’s a terrorist!), or even dressing in drag (Making fun of cross-dressers!). The problem is every.frickin’.body is looking for any.frickin’.reason to be offended and that’s taking the wind out of the sails of things like “Looney Tunes” which never sought to offend, only to amuse.

I’m surprised nobody’s complained about rabbits being drawn as buck-toothed, or that Elmer is played as the fool with a speech impediment! Or, God forbid someone notices that Marvin the Martian is both evil and an alien!! Is that some hidden commentary on immigration?! Egads!

Personally, I always thought Speedy Gonzales was one of the more uplifting characters as he was always positive, never mean to those who didn’t deserve it and always won out as someone with good intentions should (at least in cartoons). Slowpoke wasn’t lazy in my eyes, he was extremely laid back and tolerant…until you pushed him too far, which was where the comedy in that character came from. Here’s this little mouse who hardly seems to move, then he hits a point, turns a total 180 and out come the firearms! Loved it!

People need to dial their Insult-O-Meters back about 11 notches, let “Looney Tunes” get back to what it did best and not look for insult in everything. Until that day comes, if it ever does, the only “Looney Tunes” worth watching are the originals. I’m glad I own the real deal.

April 28, 2011 at 7:02 PM

I don’t think that she meant that she was upset that speedy is there and slowpoke isn’t, but that she was illustrating the PC line that Warner Bros. drew for this series. Apparently the big CN had a “Do Not Air” for Speedy cartoons during most of the 2000’s. I do believe that PC censorship should be taken back a few notches, but I’m sure it’s safe to assume that Slowpoke will not be coming back in the same facility. Speedy is one of their iconic characters but I also have to assume it was an accomplishment to use him. The show as a whole sounds like they have watered down the content and then elongated a 7 min short into a 3 act sitcom.

April 28, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Yeah Mike, after I posted my comments I realized it sounded like I might be taking Katie to task over what may appear as conflicting statements. All I meant to do was to illustrate the ridiculousness of political correctness, because even poor Katie who’s a self-confessed “Looney Tunes” fan had mixed reactions to what was, and wasn’t, included in this latest incarnation of the venerable franchise. There was a time when we wouldn’t have to worry so much over silly things like cartoons and the way they portrayed characters.

I certainly didn’t mean to imply I found anything wrong with Katie’s reactions or opinions on the matter. Heck, anyone who likes Bugs and company is alright by me. If she ever says she likes “The Three Stooges” too, then she’s got my vote for “Most Awesomest Female Lady Person In The Universe Ever!”

April 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Yea…I don’t know if I could ever watch this, and it’s for a stupid reason but I’ll admit its stupid….Bugs is purple …no…dude is gray and white. Have you ever seen a purple bunny? NO.

April 29, 2011 at 6:40 AM

Nick, Bugs was purple in some of the originals. He was also blue and pink sometimes. This isn’t new.

As for the show, though it won’t ever replace the originals, I liked what I saw, with really good animation, good designs, and most of jokes work (not all of them). Screw the purists and haters, I’m going to watch this.

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