Just when you thought it was safe to return to Twinsanity…..
CARTOON COUNTRY RETURNS!!!
Today’s Cartoon Country is all about a show I’m grooving on right now: New Looney Tunes.
For the uninformed, New Looney Tunes began as Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production. Stylized as wabbit. and known also as bugs! in parts of Europe, the Middle East and Japan, Wabbit is/was an American animated television series from Warner Bros. Animation. The series premiered on September 21, 2015, on Cartoon Network, and later premiered on October 5, 2015, on Boomerang. Eventually, the series was rechristened New Looney Tunes and its’ universe was expanded to include the rest of the Looney Tunes gang.
I probably don’t need to say this anymore, but like all of the Cartoon Countries, this isn’t a review; I won’t be breaking down any of the show’s specific episodes, for the simple fact that I can’t; currently the series isn’t airing anywhere in the US (on March 7, 2017, Turner and Warner Bros. announced that the unaired episodes will be released on Boomerang’s SVOD service, but there doesn’t seem to have been any follow-up to that), so I’ve only caught sporadic glimpses of New Looney Tunes, much to my chagrin. (Fun Fact: I had originally planned to examine New Looney Tunes as a What The Funny, but was unable to due to the lack of resources, references, clips, stills and information available.) Instead, I’ll just be giving a brief overview of the show and my views and opinions on it.
The series returns to its’ slapstick roots. This is a good thing, as physical comedy was something NLT’s predecessor, The Looney Tunes Show, was sorely lacking. FTR, I thought The Looney Tunes Show was just so-so; I didn’t hate it like so many other people on the internet, but I’ll openly admit that it wasn’t what I wanted from a new Looney Tunes series. Intro time. (I know I showed this here once already, but it makes me happy, so here it is again:)
Each episode of Wabbit contained two shorts, starring Bugs Bunny as the main character. When the show transitioned to New Looney Tunes, each thirty-minute episode contains four shorts, with Bugs Bunny as the main character. In the show, Bugs confronts other characters from the Looney Tunes shorts, as well as some new friends and enemies.
Some characters are given new traits. For example:
Wile E. Coyote is Bugs’ pompous, smart-alecky, technology-obsessed neighbor, whose desert expanse is separated from Bugs’ forest rabbit hole setting by a single wooden fence. His ‘vast intellect’ and obsession with the latest gizmos always loses out to Bugs’ simple wise-ass cunning.
Elmer Fudd returns, and about time too, I say. Elmer was barely featured on The Looney Tunes Show and I thought it was weird how in this new series which stars Bugs Bunny and whose title is in ‘Elmer Fudd-ese’, didn’t feature the character until now, but Fudd is back, and he’s still no match for Bugs.
Taz here (in what as far as I know is his only appearance in the series so far) is ‘Theodore Tasmanian’, employed as an accountant who tries to repress his savage nature.
OK, this take on Taz is a bit weird. It’s funny to hear Taz speaking full sentences, but it’s just kind of strange. I’m not sure if the show will keep Taz in this guise for future episodes, but I’m sure fans like this more than Taz being a pet like he was in TLTS. (Though to be fair, I didn’t think that was a bad idea either, I just wouldn’t have made him Bugs’ pet, as animals keeping other animals as pets is just weird and kind of…wrong somehow. I’d have given Taz to Granny or something.)
There are also new characters (Yes! I’m glad that the producers are mixing things up and adding new characters into the fray rather than just relying on old formulas), such as Squeaks the Squirrel, whose nonsensical chattering is provided by Dee Bradley Baker…
…And the weakest character in my opinion, Bigfoot, a childlike, mindlessly destructive and very, very, very stupid Sasquatch who routinely calls Bugs “Lady”. I don’t find Bigfoot especially funny, but it is good that the producers aren’t afraid to knock Bugs around a little; this keeps him from becoming smug and too perfect to be interesting.
And then we come to Daffy. Insane. Unhinged. Totally nuts. Woo-hoo-ing all over the place.
And this is my reaction.
THANK YOU! I’ve already elaborated on this in Unpopular Opinions, but I am SO glad to see Daffy Duck being a nut-job again instead of a greedy, selfish, cowardly a-hole! This series gets my respect just for bringing my favorite take on my favorite Looney Tune back!
Now, with the slapstick comedy back, Bugs back in the rabbit hole, Sam having his guns again and Elmer antagonizing Bugs again, you’d think fans would be happy….
Of course, people still have to look for trivial reasons to bitch, whine and moan about this show. The prevalent complaint I hear about this series is the characters’ designs; people think they look ‘weird”. I actually heard this statement uttered about the show’s aesthetic choices:
“The normal way?”
First, we FINALLY get a Looney Tunes show where the characters are acting loony again, and now you’re complaining about the designs? Second, what’s “the normal way”? How are we defining “normal” here? You know every artist has their own style, right? There has NEVER been one specific way to design these or any characters.
Heck, even the Termite Terrace directors each had their own sets of artists: Friz Freleng’s Bugs looked different from Tex Avery’s Bugs who looked different from Chuck Jones’ Bugs who looked different from Robert McKimson’s Bugs. As long as the characters are still recognizable as who they’re supposed to be, what’s the problem?
Also, curiously absent from the fun (so far) is Lola Bunny. If she were to show up, one wonders if we’ll get something closer to the Space Jam version…
…Or the Looney Tunes Show version.
And no, I’m NOT opening that can of worms again. We’re not going to launch that tired debate about which version of Lola is better. Here’s my answer to that question:
Seriously, that argument is so old it’s growing mold! As long as Lola is A) funny and B) an actual character, not just some secondary love interest or some hyper-competent “I don’t need no man”, cipher-like embodiment of Girl Power (TM) or some den mother whose only job is to remind the boys how dumb they’re being, I’m fine with her portrayal.
In summation, I’m liking what I’ve seen so far of New Looney Tunes, and I’m hoping the show will come back to the States in full capacity so I can rake in some good old-mixed-with-new style cartoon cool.
Grab yourself some crunchy carrots and enjoy the show!
For a moment, let’s talk about Franklin.
No, not him…
Franklin (no last lame given) made his debut in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comics strip on July 31st, 1968. His debut was heralded by some publications, siting that was good to see that Charlie Brown wasn’t colorblind. Indeed, Franklin was one of the first African-American characters in American comics that was an equal and wasn’t some tribal native something similar, but there’s a trusim here and someone has to say it:
Franklin was a token!
Don’t boo me! It’s true! Listen, I respect that the addition of Franklin to the Peanuts cast was a noteworthy achievement for it’s time. America was just beginning to open it’s eyes to racial equality, and the addition of an ethnic cast member was definitely a step in the right direction. I have no real issues with Franklin personally, but the problem was (and still is) that Franklin has no personality. I challenge anyone to name one thing that they know about Franklin other than the fact that he’s black.
You can’t, because Franklin didn’t do anything. Among the Peanuts characters, he had no job whatsoever. What sort of person is Franklin? What does he like to do in his spare time? What are his likes? His dislikes? What are his relationships with the other kids?
Franklin’s biggest contribution to date was one direct-to-video special in which our boy raps at the start of a baseball game.
Wow, a black kid rapping. Never saw that before. Well, not before noon! Rap is an art form, to be sure, not denying that, but this was clearly given to Franklin solely because of his ethnicity. While it was good to see Franklin at last have something to do, at the same time, this moment was a tad jarring; it would have been like if a Latino kid suddenly jumped on to the screen, shouted “Andale!” and led the gang into doing a Mexican hat dance! To all of the budding young writers out there: when you have an idea for something that a person-of-color can or should do, if you can’t imagine a white character doing these same things, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your script.
Charles Schultz could’ve given him something to do in the strip.
He could have been obsessed with eating doughnuts…
I’m just pulling stuff out of thin air here, but any of those things or some similar could have worked. I would have preferred it if instead of just being a black kid, Franklin had been a fully rounded character who just happened to be black. As it was, Franklin was often overlooked, ignored or left out in subsequent years because he wasn’t an interesting character. However, he wasn’t interesting because his creator Charles Schultz didn’t make him interesting. You can’t blame that on anyone else.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a fictional character be a person-of-color, but it helps when said character actually has a character and possesses some distinguishing traits beyond the color of his/her skin. A character should be a character first and and ethnicity second. Unfortunately, beyond adding a “touch of color” to the place, Franklin’s actual contributions to the Peanuts franchise were minimal, at best.
Ironically, Franklin was more of a token black than the character who’s actually named Token Black.
Oh, cruel irony!
Last June, Hasbro canceled its’ Hub/Discovery Family Littlest Pet Shop animated series after 4 seasons, due to low toy sales. At the time, Hasbro stated that they may be rebooting the franchise some time in the future.
Apparently, the future is now.
In the intervening time since LPS 2012’s cancellation, Hasbro has since acquired Boulder Media, an Irish animation studio formerly owned by Cartoon Network. The new Littlest Pet Shop series is slated to arrive in the form of YouTube shorts which will start airing in fall 2017, with the full-blown series making its’ debut in 2018.
According to sources, the plot will revolve around “a world made by pets for pets where a portal opens up and the pets can go do things”.
Hmm, that sounds kind of familiar…
Character-wise, the series will focus on a sextet of main characters, referred to in the press as The Pet Six.
Yeah, let’s stop that before it starts.
- Roxie McTerrier (Brown Dog)
- Jade Catkin (Black Cat)
- Quincy Goatee (Yellow Goat)
- Trip Hamston (Hamsta) (Red Hamster)
- Bev Gilturtle (Blue Turtle with Purple shell)
- Eddie von Keet (Yellow-Green Parakeet)
Names with no pets attached (listed as recurring characters)
- Mister Yut
- Savannah Cheetaby
- Wlsteria Perslla
OK, early impressions. So much to unpack here. Congrats, Hasbro. One of the main things that dogged the 2012 Littlest Pet Shop series was how it was unable to escape the shadow of its’ big sister series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so what do you do with the new series? Make it even more like MLP: Friendship is Magic!
Of course, it may turn out to be something different and unique, but on paper this “world made for pets by pets” thing basically sounds like Equestria with other species.
Also, I can’t be the only one who finds it weird that this is a Littlest Pet Shop series and there’s no actual shop? I mean, it’s in the title, fer cryin’ out loud. Plus, I’m assuming that since these pets go into this portal to have their adventures, their owners are perpetually off-camera. That’s unfortunate, I think; they seem to be doing the very thing I hoped they wouldn’t do: exclude the human element from the show. I think that should’ve been kept, since the presence of humans was one thing that helped distinguish LPS from its’ big sister MLP.
Which brings me to my final observation: I get that this is a reboot and Hasbro wanted to start fresh with a clean slate, and it’s likely I just haven’t completely exorcised the ghosts of series past, but I’m sorry that the producers didn’t bring back any of the previous show’s characters. No Sunil, Zoe, Vinnie, Pepper, Russel, Minka, Sugar Sprinkles or Buttercream is going to take some getting used to, as they were all decent characters.
Now since this new show is being produced by a different studio, it’s possible that they couldn’t use any of the 2012 characters, but my big concern is that this new show idea smacks too much of MLP: FiM. I think Hasbro was a little too quick to turn its’ collective back on the 2012 show. The Blythe Baxter LPS wasn’t perfect, it had problems, but I didn’t think it was beyond repair. That concept just needed to be tweaked a little, not completely overhauled.
Here’s what I/we would’ve done (Jason already covered some of this in his LPS Final Season Retrospective, so I’ll to keep it brief):
- I would’ve done away with the 22-minute episode format. This show didn’t need to do single 20-minute stories just because MLP did it that way, plus many of the LPS plots seemed padded out anyway. I would have gone with 2 or 3 shorts per show.
- Kept the show in “our world”, albeit an exaggerated cartoon version thereof. The ‘real world’ setting was another that helped distinguish LPS from MLP.
- Kept the shop, kept Blythe and some of the human characters, only I would’ve broken the communication barrier and have the show go full-on Looney Tunes or Bloom County and have the animals be able to directly communicate with the humans and vice-versa. Yeah, that would render the whole “Blythe is special because she can talk to animals” premise null and void, but to be honest I was never a huge fan of that shtick in the first place.
- Give Blythe (or a new main human character who distinctly resembled her) 2 parents from the get-go, both of whom would still be alive and happily married. I personally hate the Dead/Missing Mother trope with the fury of 1000 suns.
- GET RID OF THOSE #@$%^&*! BISKIT TWINS. I’m not gonna mince words here, they were hands-down one of the things I hated most about the 2012 show. While I’m usually a fan of twin characters and rich characters, I found those 2 unbearable and their characters made no flipping sense. They had no reason whatsoever to antagonize Blythe other than they were the designated bad guys of the show and so they had to bad guy stuff, and since they not only outnumbered Blythe but were also far better off materially than her, they always just came off like bullies picking on her, and I hated how the writers always had Blythe simper and try to make nice with and sometimes even try to kowtow and suck up to those little creepos only for them to routinely piss on her head. I would’ve done one of 2 things with the Biskits: either change them to latter-day Bulk & Skull-esque characters, good-natured goofs as opposed to flat-out baddies, or merge the Biskits and the Baxters into one family unit, say have a benevolent rich family who owns the shop and the daughter of this family is a Blythe type character, or a pair of twin Blythe types, either 2 sisters or 1 sister and 1 brother (why not? I’m sure some boys buy LPS toys too–you do, some of you guys. Admit it).
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this new show will be good. I have my reservations, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong. This series could rock, though I’m not thoroughly convinced yet.
Recently, thanks to one of our regular correspondents Inspiration Date, it has come to our attention that Warner Brothers’ Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production has been re-christened New Looney Tunes.
And with the new title comes a slight alteration in the show’s format: the series now features the rest of the Looney Tunes gang alongside Bugs Bunny. Here’s the new opening:
Upon learning of this, I perked up a little when I read that this format change would include new shorts featuring my favorite Looney Tunes character, Daffy Duck.
I was initially apprehensive about how this team of producers and writers were going to render Daffy, especially in the wake of The Looney Tunes Show, but then I read that this take on Daffy would be “totally nuts”, and then I saw some clips:
And this was my reaction:
Which brings us to today’s Unpopular Opinion: I’ve always liked the earlier, crazy Daffy Duck more than the later, greedy, selfish version.
Don’t misunderstand me; I like the egomaniacal, greedy, cowardly version of Daffy well enough. I enjoyed the “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” trilogy. Chuck Jones did a masterful job of playing this darker version of Daffy opposite Bugs Bunny and as the completely unfit genre film heroes in the 1950’s shorts, but unfortunately Jones seemed to have done his job too well; for a long time afterwards many artists, writers, producers and fans have come to accept this version of Daffy as the definitive version, and this is the take of the character that most often permeates his appearances.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for Chuck Jones, but part of me wishes he had never tried to change Daffy (maybe Jones could’ve used another character for the greedy, selfish jerk role, like resurrect Gabby Goat or something) so we could still have the bonkers version of the character throughout the subsequent decades, as that version’s always been my favorite. For a long time, I had to settle for imitations, like Quack-Up from Hanna-Barbera’s Yogi’s Space Race.
In fact, I sometimes like to imagine an alternate universe in which the loony Daffy never went away, so we could get that version in productions such as Tiny Toon Adventures. How cool would it have been to have a Tiny Toons version of insane Daffy Duck? Imagine how different Plucky Duck would’ve been.
I don’t know how the general public is reacting to New Looney Tunes‘ version of Daffy, since for some reason Turner/WB and Cartoon Network are fridging the show and not airing it in the US (it’s not even airing on Boomerang Online!), which ticks me off, but that’s a separate rant unto itself, but if I could say one thing to Warner Brothers, it would be this:
Daffy Duck is fine as a greedy, selfish, snarky, cowardly, self-serving loudmouth, but he’s best when he’s unhinged, demented and totally nuts! Keep Daffy Duck daffy! It’s in his name, for crying out loud!
Last time on Startopia…
One fateful day in the 21st century, a band of wise and powerful but kinda aggressive and brutally frank alien emissaries arrived on Earth, planning to open a chain of spaceship fueling stations on our planet; if we put a stop to the constant wars, in-fighting, prejudice and environmental abuse, they promised to introduce Earth to the wonders of the universe. If we didn’t, they promised to fry us all like chicken. We wisely chose the first option.
By the 31st century, the planet Earth is a happy, peaceful Utopia. World Peace has been achieved, all of the world’s nations have merged into one, the planet has been opened up to the rest of the galaxy to the point where there are now numerous alien species, cultures and races living on Earth alongside humans, crime, poverty and pollution have been practically eliminated, humans diseases, handicaps and illnesses have been wiped out, race and gender discrimination are things of the past thanks to centuries of interracial cross-breeding and gene-splicing (nobody really knows what anybody is anymore, since everybody’s a mix of several things), thanks to modern medicine, people live longer; 75 is the new 35 and no one physically ages beyond 25, so everyone looks young and hot, the world economy has boomed to the point where people’s financial situations range from rich to mega-rich to stupid rich, ice cream has been replaced by a newer, better substance called Twice Cream, which comes in 731 flavors (and counting) and candy is good for your teeth.
Since all of Earth’s countries have merged, a new flag had to be created:
…And since Earth is now the galaxy’s melting pot, accommodating a slew of extraterrestrials as well as humans, the Olympics have become intergalactic, creating the need for its’ logo to also be restructured.
Nowhere is this NWWO (New Wonderful World Order) more evident than in Cyber City, a bright, shiny, colorful, bustling but blissful cosmopolis which is sort of like a world in microcosm. Cyber City is the hub of Earth, which itself is the hub of the galaxy, full of over 100 races, cultures and species, each pooling their knowledge, powers, skills, talents and resources in order to live the 31st century’s equivalent of the Good Life. Cyber City is so large in fact that it takes up an entire 1/6 of Earth’s surface.
Language is no longer a barrier thanks to Translator Microchips, which everyone in the galaxy has implanted in their ears shortly after birth.
Due to the diverse mix of beings who now live on Earth, the planet’s climate is now artificially and mystically controlled, with the temperature being kept at a balmy 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Cyber City is set for a variety of breathable atmospheres in order to be permeable to the mix of sentient beings living on Earth.
Cyber City’s Northern region consists of a posh community in the clouds.
Not only is this cloud-covered, mist enshrouded area home to aerial based species, such as the Altheans, an all-female race of winged mystics (basically space fairies)…
…But it’s also home to Cyber City’s Alphas: the top tier genetically enhanced metahumans, the elite Visitors from Space, the world leaders, the military commanders, the powerful wizards and mages, the richest celebrities, the great artists, all the achievers and A-Listers.
The South Side of Cyber City is set up like a water park, more or less. (Well, more actually.) The entire area is surrounded by ocean and the land structures are built around it. It’s a lush and tropical landscape…
…And it also boasts an underwater living complex in order to accommodate the galaxy’s various water and liquid based beings and creatures. If you don’t swim, sail, surf or splash, then you’ve got no business in South Cyber City.
Cyber City’s Eastern region is the technological hub, boasting the greatest and most impressive devices (and for the future, that’s really saying something). It houses the main headquarters of Ultronic Institute, THE largest Techno-Cosmic Research and Innovation corporation/mega-conglomerate on the planet.
Ultronic Institute was founded by tech billionaire J. Moneymaker…
…in concert with his business partner, mad scientist Professor Lester Crazaloon.
This combination of corporate sharkery and Mad Science has made Ultronic Institute gazillions of dollars. Ultronic’s money helped to fund Cyber City, its’ technology helped build it, and 2/3 of its’ citizenry work for Ultronic in some capacity or regularly use its’ many products and services daily, whether they know it or not.
The galaxy’s top races of scientists, technicians, inventors, engineers, geniuses and techno-geeks flock to East Cyber City to handle Earth’s cybernetics, information technology, financial services and banking. It’s like Silicon Valley meets Wall Street…
Cyber City’s Western region is the most populated, as well as the most culturally diverse. It is where Cyber County (aka the Cyber Suburbs) are located…
…And is home to a wide range of humans, humanoids and compatible races/species.
As mentioned previously, the dominant human race on the planet are the Polypalasians, a mixture of all of Earth’s races. Mostly tan, but there are some peach, brown and yellow Polypalasians as well. This, combined with generations of inter-breeding and gene-splicing, have rendered all humans a mixture of something or other.
West Cyber City also has the greatest concentration of Mutanimals.
Native to Earth, the Mutanimals were created when a radioactive meteorite crashed into a national zoo, mutating its’ occupants and making the creatures there sapient and near-humanoid. Today, the Mutanimals make up about 12% of Earth’s sapient population.
1st, 2nd and 3rd generation aliens (or “Space People”, as they prefer to be called) are also a common sight in Cyber City. Among the most frequently encountered Space People are Martians and Omatranians.
Omatranians come in 2 colors: blue…
…And there’s also a purple breed. What’s the difference between a blue Omantranian and a purple one?
Due to the influx of aliens emigrating to Earth, Area 51 was converted to the Extraterrestrial Immigration Center. There Space People are registered to become legal Earthican citizens, providing they sign the necessary paperwork pledging to never try to conquer the planet or attempt to enslave its’ populace.
All of this is overseen by the President of Earth.
Yeah, he’s a big giant head, but he stays out of the public eye, runs a smooth, drama-free administration and is tough on crime while gentle on the people and environment, so nobody’s complaining!