Just like the title says, all of this renewed hype about Looney Tunes, brought on by the impending premiere of Looney Tunes Cartoons on HBO Max, has brought to mind one Looney Tune who so far I haven’t seen in any of these shorts…one Lola Bunny.
Not since Scrappy-Doo have I encountered so polarizing a cartoon character. You see, when Lola made her debut in Space Jam, she looked like this:
But later on, when she returned for The Looney Tunes Show, she was changed to this:
While some fans were OK with the change, several others were suddenly like:
And for a long time, I wondered…why? Why are so many fans enraged by this new take on the character? Why does TLTS Lola inspire so much hatred among some folks? Now, if you ask the average Lola hater, they’ll usually say something along the lines of:
And you know what?
Yeah, all that stuff Lola anti-fans like to throw out and tell you (and tell you and tell you and tell you) is a complete load. It’s Grade A Bolognium. I wish I had some bread so all of this baloney wouldn’t be going to waste. These reasons for hating TLTS Lola have always seemed weird to me, but I could never quite put my finger on what was so off about these complaints, aside from the obvious fact that they make no sense. When I noticed that it’s only MALE fans who go on about the Lola hate that I began to put 2 and 2 together. What REALLY gave it away was when a Lola hater made a comment on this very site proclaiming that Daisy Lou (a love interest rabbit character who only appeared in a single short, “Hare Splitter”, 1948, d. Friz Freleng) would be a better choice for a female Looney Tune than Lola.
That’s when it hit me. Do you want to know the REAL reason why these guys hate the new Lola so much? Do you wanna strip away the convoluted crapola? You really want to get down to it? Forget all that smoke they like blow up your ass. Whenever TLTS Lola haters say all that stuff I typed above, what they’re REALLY saying is this:
That’s it. The Space Jam version of Lola made these folks feel funny down there, and they don’t get that same special feeling when watching the new Lola. THAT’S what they’re up in arms about.
Trust me, it is. Think about it. None of the arguments they say out loud make any sense.
We’re talking about a comedy franchise here. Since when are the likes of Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Pete Puma or Beaky Buzzard towering intellects? Since when is that even a requirement? Why is it OK for male characters to goof it up, but when a female character does the same thing, some nonexistent rules are somehow being broken? Not only does that complaint make no sense, but it’s downright hypocritical, because many of these hardcore Lola Bunny haters are also big fans of characters like Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony or Harley Quinn from DC Comics and DC Super Hero Girls. If you think this:
…Are somehow better than this:
Ladies, don’t you just love it when guys try to mansplain to you what feminism is? I’m not going to get up on a soapbox here, since as a male, I’m hardly an expert on the subject, but based on what I’ve seen, heard, read and observed, ultimately feminism is about choice; namely, a woman is free to choose to be whatever the hell she wants to be, and that includes being funny, silly and ridiculous. Why are the guy Looney Tunes allowed to be silly and loony and zany but when Lola does it, it’s bad? Holding female characters to different standards and decrying a female character for being clownish while deeming it A-OK for a male character to do the same is itself sexist. When you magically grow a vagina, then you can lecture me about feminism. Until then, cram it!
“Role models?” Excuse me?? You think these guys…
…Are role models? Dude, who’s your dealer? ‘Cause that’s some primo stuff you’re spinning on! The Looney Tunes are not, repeat, NOT role models. You’re not supposed to gel any life lessons from these characters; you’re just supposed to laugh at their wacky antics. Bugs Bunny is not a role model; he’s a rebel and a wiseass and a prankster and a troublemaker. That’s why he’s such an awesome character. It’s also why Lola had to change. Regardless of how you felt about The Looney Tunes Show itself, one thing the show did very right was rethink Lola. C’mon, really, what exactly was so great about the Space Jam version?
Yeah, she may be nice to look at (if you’re into that sort of thing, I’m not personally, but I’m not knocking those who are), but there’s a serious flaw with the original Lola, namely:
SHE. WASN’T. FUNNY. The Looney Tunes franchise has no use for an unfunny character.
I challenge any of these alleged fans of Space Jam Lola to describe the character using any other adjective besides “pretty”, “cute”, “sexy” or “hot”. You can’t, because beyond being ‘Va-Va-Va-Voom!’ sexy, Space Jam Lola had no personality.
That’s when the anti-fans’ arguments really fall apart. Why is it such a bad thing for a Looney Tune to act loony??
Space Jam Lola would never do any of those things, because that would require her to have a personality, opinions, quirks or a character, which that version is clearly devoid of. Space Jam Lola was just furry fetish fuel, nothing more. I’m not saying that a cartoon character can’t be attractive; goodness knows I’ve had my share of cartoon crushes, but there’s absolutely no reason for a woodland creature to be sexy unless you’re a guy rabbit and you wanna ‘do the math’, if ya know what I mean.
I’m not going to make fun of furries because they don’t deserve to be made fun of, but let’s face it: when these Lola haters see Lola on the screen, they don’t want to laugh; they want to get their rocks off, and they can’t do that with the new Lola, and THAT’S the real reason they hate this new take on the character so much.
So from now on, when the subject of post-Space Jam Lola comes up and one of these folks starts bloviating about how the character’s a disgrace and an abomination and whatnot, keep the above in mind, and then just tell ’em:
OK, so Scoob! happened.
As you know by now, we don’t review movies here at Twinsanity, so I won’t go into detail about the movie itself (there are already a ton of reviewers YouTube who have done that already), I’ll just say that my assessment of the film overall was…
It was OK. Not great, not groundbreaking, just OK. I don’t think it was low-grade dog food like many people on the internet apparently do, but I admit that its’ main draw was either for die hard Scooby-Doo fans or people in my age bracket (40-100 and up) who grew up with 1960’s through 1980’s Hanna-Barbera cartoons and will therefore recognize and appreciate the many references, allusions and callbacks.
No, I didn’t think Scoob! was swill, but believe it or not, that’s not the Unpopular Opinion of this post. Today’s Unpopular Opinion is that, regardless of what I thought about the movie itself…
I liked the movie’s takes on Blue Falcon…
To understand why I feel this way (and to get the young’uns in the crowd up to speed), here’s a brief history lesson:
Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder made their debut on ABC’s Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour in 1976. The Blue Falcon (originally voiced by Gary Owens) was a Batman-esque superhero (his alias was that of millionaire playboy Radley Crown) and Dynomutt (originally voiced by Frank Welker) was his eager, brave but comedically inept sidekick, who just happened to be a talking robot dog. Dyno’s bumblings were so frequent that Blue Falcon (or “B.F”, as Dynomutt called him) would often refer to him as ‘Dog Blunder’.
The duo later turn up in–of all places–an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory entitled “Dyno-Might”.
In it, the Falcon’s arch-foe, The Buzzard, ‘kills’ Dynomutt in battle and BF comes to Dexter for assistance. Dex rebuilds Dyno, but feels that the goofy ‘Dog Blunder’ isn’t a worthy sidekick to an awesome superhero like Blue Falcon, so he builds a replacement called Dynomutt X90, a more efficient but far more aggressive robot dog who’s so extreme that he sets a man on fire for littering and nearly laser blasts a little girl for picking a flower before he’s stopped by the re-activated original Dynomutt.
At the end of the short, Blue Falcon says that he prefers having a comic relief sidekick because it makes him look cooler. Dexter, who’s saddled with Dee-Dee, agrees.
Fast-Forward to Scooby-Doo: Mystery, Inc. BF and Dyno turn up in this series as well (by this time it’s been long established that the crime fighting duo know and are well-acquainted with the Scooby-Doo gang, as they’ve met and crossed over on numerous occasions and even appeared alongside one another on the Scooby Doobies team on ABC’s Laff-A-Lympics), albeit with a slightly revised backstory and some notable changes in characterization.
Here, rather than being a rich playboy, Radley Crown is a security guard at one of the laboratories of Quest Industries (as in Dr. Benton Quest, father of Jonny Quest–yes, Jonny Quest, Scooby-Doo and Blue Falcon exist in the same universe–it’s canon now) and Dyno is his faithful dog Reggie. One fateful night the two are attacked by a mutated monster created by Mad Science and Reggie is seriously injured in the attack. Desperate to save his friend, Crown enlists the aid of Dr. Benton Quest himself, who utilizes Quest technology to transform Reggie into a super canine cyborg. While Dyno here is his usual goofball self, B.F. is more gritty, angtsy and edgy, basically a spoof of Frank Miller’s Batman from The Dark Knight Returns.
And now we come to today. B.F. and Dyno turn up again in Scoob!. Here, Blue Falcon is a very famous and highly revered superhero, idol to millions and heavily trademarked, BUUUT (*Spoilers for those who haven’t seen the movie, or actually care, which I doubt is many of you) this Blue Falcon is not Radley Crown, rather it’s his adult son Brian Crown, a somewhat goofy and slightly egotistical glory hog who seems more interested in promoting his brand than saving the world.
Dynomutt meanwhile has apparently been upgraded to a sleeker, cooler and far more competent version of himself; his tech is 100 times cooler, he’s more sarcastic and quick to chide his new partner and his goofy giggles have been replaced by a more annoyed wiseguy voice, provided by Ken Jeong.
And I enjoyed the heck out of these guys, particularly Dynomutt 2.0. Confession time: I’ve always thought Dynomutt was kind of cool. Despite his usual portrayal as a bumbling dufus who hindered Blue Falcon’s efforts as much as he helped them, I always though his tech was pretty cool. Back in the ’70’s, Dynomutt, along with the Robonic Stooges…
Were what first attracted me to the idea of utilizing high-tech as a super power. These guys were the Robocops and Cyborgs of their day. So I was actually glad to see Dynomutt on screen and not being a joke. You’re free to disagree with me but I thought Blue Falcon and Dynomutt’s banter was funny and I love their new designs. The details on Brian’s costume looked awesome and this new Dynomutt is just cool-looking and badass.
Plus, I can’t be the only one who’d like to see an animated series starring these two. C’mon, a Booster Gold-esque Blue Falcon trying to make a name for himself while struggling to live up to his father’s legacy and his snarky but efficient robot dog companion? I’d watch the heck out of that show!
Even if you don’t agree with me on that, there’s something else I think we can all agree on:
Kid Daphne in this movie was cute as a button!
So recently, I learned that NBC’s new streaming service Peacock (seriously, that name. I get that the peacock has been NBC’s logo for decades, but they might as well just name their service “Penis”!) plans to launch a follow-up series based on the original Saved By the Bell, the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) teencom that ran on the network from 1989 to 1993.
The early 90s is strong in this one…
Now, I was admittedly never a Saved By the Bell fan. I was aware of the show, and I’ve seen several episodes, and I know that SBTB was basically a live action cartoon and therefore I shouldn’t be looking for a realistic depiction of anything on this series, but I NEVER liked how the nerds on SBTB were portrayed.
On SBTB, nerds were practically a separate sub-species. They all fell firmly into the “Poindexter” archetype; thick glasses, collared shirts buttoned all the way to the top, pocket protectors and high water pants. And they existed for no other purpose than to be a source of ridicule for the other students and for us the audience. If you possessed a genius level of intelligence, then you were a dweeby loser who only existed for our amusement and degradation. Heaven forbid they’d ever have a kid with above average intelligence who was allowed to hang with the cool kids!
And I’m not counting Screech. He was the comic relief among the comic relief!
Now I’m not saying that Poindexters and Melvins don’t exist. I know that they do, but my complaint is how so-called normal society tends to put us all in a box, as if we’re all the same. As far as they’re concerned…
…It’s just Dilton Doiley and nothing else.
I state this as one of the geekiest geeks out there. I was never a cool kid. Incidentally, I generally prefer the terms “geek” or “brain” over “nerd”, but I’m going to use the term “nerd” for the rest of this monologue just to avoid excess verbiage.
Yes, many nerds are socially awkward dweebs. Some are, but a lot aren’t. I’m going to quote something that ESPN reporter Bomani Jones once said on the show that he co-hosts, High Noon:
“Parents: just because your kids are smart doesn’t mean that they have dress like dorks. Smart kids like to wear cool sneakers too!”
I actually have to give the film Revenge of the Nerds more credit. They at least acknowledge that there’s more than one type of nerd.
Gilbert: Yesterday I got into a fight with 1, 3, 5 and 7. The odds were against me!
Louis: You should call 2, 4, 6 and 8 to get even! Haaaaa-ha-ha-ha!
Yeah, the two main nerds were Poindexters, but that was necessary for the purpose of the story; they proved their worth as human being in the film’s climax. My point is that there are some nerds/geeks who like to dress cool; we don’t all have thick taped glasses, and wear hi-water pants with penny loafers and collared shirts and ties to school (unless that’s the school’s uniform where such things are mandated).
Everyone is a geek about something. Being geeky is simply possessing an extraordinary level of knowledge on a particular subject, hobby or interest. Excelling at STEM is obvious (and if you don’t know what STEM is, you’re not a nerd!), but there are also TV geeks, history geeks, sci-fi geeks, comic book geeks, toy/collectible geeks, etc. If someone knows everything that there is to know about Disney princess movies than that person is a geek, just geeky about something other than STEM. And who says that a person is only allowed to be geeky on a single subject or interest? Like Cooper said in the 2020 film Trolls: World Tour:
Did I just quote a line from Trolls: World Tour? Why, yes, I did.
Case in point, Mr. Andre Meadows, a well known YouTuber.
When Mr. Meadows first began making internet videos, he gave himself the title “Black Nerd”, as if a black nerd was a rarity, and that may have been the belief at that time, but anyone who’s been on the internet in the last two decades can assess that black nerds (myself included) have been around for a long time; we just didn’t have an outlet to express our geekiness. Black nerds have existed long before the emergence of Steve Urkel.
Do not get me started on Steve Urkel….
Let me start by mentioning that I’m not a huge fan of horror-related stuff: monsters, ghouls, goblins, creatures and creepies.
I don’t hate horror, it’s just personally not my jam. I’ve always been more into science fiction (aliens, robots, super powers and high-tech) than Gothic monster lore…
…And I’m generally not into dark stuff. I like positive things.
However, I do love to laugh. I like humor, especially zany, silly humor. As such, while I’m not a big horror fan, I’ve always enjoyed bad, campy, stupid, ridiculous horror/sci-fi. Stuff like Hillbillys in a Haunted House…
…And The Horror of Party Beach.
You know, the kinds of things that get goofed on by the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. This fondness for dopey, cheesy, late night sci-fi/monster shtick probably explains why 3 of my favorite bands (at the moment) are The Aquabats…
…The Ghastly Ones…
…And Los Straitjackets.
So wouldn’t it be great if someone made a family-friendly sketch comedy about kooky, cheesy late-night movie monsters, puppets and weirdos in campy costumes? Thankfully, someone did. This (finally) brings us to the subject of today’s Wild World of Shows, courtesy of or neighbor to the North, Canada…
The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
Before we begin, I think I can sense what you’re thinking (assuming you’ve been following us for a while now)…”Wha? ‘Wild World of Shows’? Didn’t you change the name of this segment??”
-Yes, a couple of years ago this segment was indeed originally called the Wild World of Shows, but we changed it to The Cartoon Couch ’cause that name sounded similar to its’ older brother segment The Retro Bin and we like things that are related to have a unified branding. However, given that this show isn’t animated* (not in its’ final form, anyway, but we’ll get to that), it seemed incorrect to categorize this as a Cartoon Couch, so from here on in, whenever we cover a show that otherwise fits the requirements of a Cartoon Couch but isn’t a cartoon, we’ll be classifying it under Wild World of Shows. Got it? Good.
For the uninformed, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein is a Canadian children’s television series, which was produced by Hamilton, Ontario’s independent station CHCH-TV in 1971. It was syndicated both in Canada and internationally (though not in Maryland where I grew up; I’ve only recently discovered this show–late to the party as usual!) and occasionally still appears in some television markets. In Canada, the series has not aired on broadcast TV for several years, but is available on streaming service Crave.
The show is a quirky sketch comedy series that included some educational content amid its zany humour, the show’s cast included Billy Van, Fishka Rais, Guy Big, Mitch Markowitz, Vincent Price, and Julius Sumner Miller.
Van played most of the characters on the show. The guy wore a lot of hats, and thrice as many costumes.
- All 130 episodes were made in a nine-month span starting in 1971; the scenes with Price and Miller were all filmed within one summer.
- The show was originally going to be a cartoon. The production started with Riff Markowitz envisioning the concept and then inviting a room full of creative friends to a spaghetti and champagne ‘brainstorming’ dinner party in his double suite at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto. Markowitz directed the brainstorming session while his assistant Roger John Greco made notes of everything said.
- CHCH had broadcast two other Markowitz shows: The Randy Dandy Show for children, starring Rafael Markowitz as Randy Dandy; and The Ed Allen Show, an exercise program. CHCH approved the production of Frightenstein to take advantage of the station’s new ability to reach into the Toronto market for advertising money.
- Randy Dandy’s soda pop venture was later taken up by the Count when he promoted Dracola from the castle to raise money for his Brucie project.
- Sid Biby led the station at this time. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was one of the most ambitious shows attempted by Canadian producers during this era.
- Markowitz later began production of an animated cartoon version of the show with animator Al Guest that never got on the air. It wasn’t until Vincent Price, Billy Van and other Canadian comics of the day got on board that broadcasters began to take interest.
- Horror icon Vincent Price starred in introductions for the show’s various segments. Price, who was attracted to the project because he wanted to do something for kids, filmed all of his nearly 400 segments in four days for a fee of $13,000. Julius Sumner Miller, an American scientist and TV personality, appeared in every episode; although he put on a “mad scientist” persona, his segments featured straightforward science lessons and experiments.
- On Canadian television stations, the show generally aired as a children’s show in an after-school or weekend morning time slot. In the United States, however, many stations aired it in a late night slot aimed primarily at college students. In an interview with film critic Richard Crouse on CFRB in the 2010s, Markowitz’s brother Mitch Markowitz — also an associate producer and bit-part performer on the show — acknowledged that while he and his brother always recognized the show had kid appeal because of the zany monster characters and lowbrow humor, it was always intended to also appeal to a young adult audience of alternative comedy fans. In some American markets, the show drew higher ratings than The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson among that demographic.
Let’s hit that opening!
BTW, the show’s opening and closing credits were accompanied by a musical composition played entirely on a Moog synthesizer and written by Harry Breuer, Gary Carol, Jean Jacques Perrey and Pat Prilly. Its title is “March of the Martians”. The original recording can be found on an out-of-print Pickwick vinyl album called The Happy Moog.
As previously stated, the show was basically a sketch comedy. Although each episode was nominally structured around the basic narrative premise of Count Frightenstein’s efforts to revive Brucie J. Monster, a Frankenstein-like monster, only some sketches (including the first sketch of each episode) directly addressed the premise itself, while most sketches depicted unrelated goings-on around the castle. Only the two main characters appeared in the “plot” sketches, although they could also appear in other sketches as well, while the supplementary characters generally only appeared in their own standalone sketches and were not part of the core “plot” sketches.
Now, onto the screwy cast. (NOTE: All of the characters are played by Billy Van unless otherwise specified.)
Count Frightenstein himself, the main character, was the 13th son of Count Dracula. Exiled to Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone for his failure to revive Brucie, the core premise of the show was that he would be allowed to return to Transylvania only when (and if) he succeeded in his quest. Count Frightenstein was also a “black sheep” vampire in other ways, including his strong preference for eating pizza rather than drinking human blood. He also fancies himself an inventor, although his inventions generally have one of three faults: they are either dangerous, useless, or already a common household object upon which his version is not an improvement.
Igor (Fishka Rais) was Frightenstein’s incompetent assistant. (So what else?)
- The Wolfman – A werewolf disk jockey at radio station EECH (get it?) who spun rock and roll records while doing a Wolfman Jack impression. The Wolfman’s theme song was Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher”. (One of my favorite Sly songs. No wonder this is one of my favorite segments on the show.) The segment featured then-current hit singles by The Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Three Dog Night (the song for that particular show was “Mama Told Me Not to Come”–any show that manages to get a song about an out-of-control pot party on a kid-vid show gets props in my book) or other Top 40 radio stars of the time (which were referred to as ‘golden oldies’ in order to avoid dating the program), with the Wolfman and Igor dancing in silhouette against a psychedelic background.
For licensing reasons, the musical numbers are no longer shown on some reruns, although broadcasts on YTV in the early 2000s included the segments.
- The Grammar Slammer – The Grammar Slammer was a disembodied voice who challenged Igor to correct grammatical errors, accompanied by an eight-foot purple monster named Bammer who threatened to give Igor a royal-ass beatdown if he failed.
- Bwana Clyde Batty – A British explorer who teaches about wild animals on Zany Zoo. His name is a spoof of animal trainer Clyde Beatty. His catchphrase is “ooga booga!”
- The Professor (Julius Sumner Miller) – A professor who provided science lessons on such things as thermal expansion and the cartesian diver.
- Dr. Pet Vet – A veterinarian who teaches about domestic animals (whereas Zany Zoo was about wild fauna). He always offers the day’s animal to Igor as a pet, but the Sloth in the basement invariably refuses to allow Igor to keep the animal.
- Grizelda, the Ghastly Gourmet – A witch voiced as a parody of Julia Child, who provides a version of a television cooking show as she cooks suitably ghastly recipes in her cauldron. In every one of her segments, she bangs her head on the pot above her cauldron, and invariably declares the recipe a failure after it causes a small explosion.
- The Librarian – An elderly curmudgeon who unsuccessfully tries to scare the viewers by reading children’s stories, such as “Humpty Dumpty” and “Henny Penny”, which he thinks are horror stories. He also sometimes reads fables with unpleasant endings. He eventually admits to not being any more frightened than the viewers, but considers reading important nonetheless.
- The Maharishi – A Hindu guru who shares bits of mystically inscrutable wisdom (e.g. “It is written, that he who kicks the blind beggar, in the marketplace, during an eclipse, can only curse the camel, for its lack of discipline.”) A large bag of flowers (dyed carnations) would then fall on top of his head afterward.
- The Oracle – A mystic who reads out horoscopes in a Peter Lorre voice, invariably knocking over and breaking his crystal ball in the process. He also would often get his hand temporarily stuck inside his replacement crystal ball. He then answers questions supposedly sent in from viewers.
- The Mini-Count (Guy Big) is a three-foot tall clone of the Count, who appears in brief sketches where he tells a joke. Incidentally, Big was originally slated to play the main role as the Count, as the original character concept was based in part on the sight gag of a diminutive Count contrasted against Igor’s imposing height and weight. However, Big was not experienced enough as an actor to properly maintain Count Frightenstein’s desired accent, so the role was recast to star Van while a new smaller role was written for Big.
- Harvey Wallbanger – The postmaster of Castle Frightenstein’s “dead letter office”, he would appear in sketches with the Count or Grizelda in which they answer letters.
- Gronk – A purple sea serpent who interacts with the Count or the Wolfman. Gronk would announce his presence with a loud call of “Gronk!” Gronk’s segments usually had the Count reading a book; the Count would then start explaining what the book was about, with Gronk interrupting him, usually mid-sentence, with a completely incorrect conclusion to what the Count had been reading. This would happen several times, leading to greater and greater frustration on the part of the Count. Segments with the Wolfman were generally one-line or two-line jokes.
- Bammer – A large purple monster who assisted the Grammar Slammer in correcting Igor’s poor grammar.
Super Hippy (Mitch Markowitz) — A hippie in a superhero costume who appears leading in and out of commercials, sitting or flying in varying locations as he delivers some variation on “Don’t change the channel; we’ll be right back after these commercials.” I’m not sure what a hippie superhero has to do with monsters in a castle, but Rule of Funny, I guess.
- The Singing Soldier — A light-operetta styled palace guard who gets a cream pie thrown in his face whenever he starts to sing “Indian Love Call” from Rose-Marie.
- The Mosquito (Mitch Markowitz) – A mosquito who tells a bad joke about insects before biting a human foot.
- The Gorilla (Van or Paul Schultz) – A gorilla who would walk out of the jungle and invariably try to scare whomever he was looking at. In every segment, however, he would be thwarted by a ping-pong ball that would hit him square in the head, causing him to keel over. He often tried to avoid the ping-pong balls, in one instance by holding up a parasol.
Like an earlier honoree of The Cartoon Couch, The Funny Company, my biggest regret concerning this hidden gem was that I wasn’t exposed to it sooner. If The Hub had lasted beyond just four years, I could’ve easily seen The Hilarious House of Frightenstein airing on that channel. It would have fit in on The Hub’s afternoon lineup, or even at night, if they had followed our advice and went with an alternative comedy format instead of just running old sitcoms and movies.
So hats off to The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. This show hits just the right level of absurd and imaginative for me. It reminds me of afternoon blocks like Wake, Rattle & Roll or local late-night cheesy monster movie fests like Ghost Host, Creature Feature, Svengoolie (or various other titles, depending on where you live/d)…or TNT’s 100% Weird…
…Just without the movie parts.
The show’s like Cartoon Planet with monsters, and frankly, I…
Not too long ago HBO/AT&T/Time-Warner announced the impending arrival of the media’s umpeeth streaming service, HBO Max, set to launch in May 2020.
In a press release, they listed what we can expect to see on the service: some movies, some shows, some classic movies, Friends, 30 Rock, etc., etc. My reaction:
…Then they announced that they’d be showing the new Looney Tunes Cartoons shorts and a new animated series built around the Hanna-Barbera library (and not specifically Scooby-Doo or Tom & Jerry) entitled Jellystone!. My reaction:
As you may have surmised by now, on today’s Peeks we’ll be giving you our first impressions of these new shows, what we think of what (admittedly little) we know and have seen so far and what we expect (or hope) to see when these shows eventually make their debut.
LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS
For those who don’t know, Looney Tunes Cartoons is an American animated web television series developed by Peter Browngardt, creator of Cartoon Network’s Secret Mountain Fort Awesome and Uncle Grandpa…
…and produced by Warner Bros. Animation, based on the characters from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. The project made its worldwide premiere at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 10, 2019. This show is the successor to New Looney Tunes, which I actually liked despite some haters nipticking about it.
This project was first announced on June 11, 2018, when Warner Bros. Animation announced that a new series, which would “consist of 1,000 minutes spread across 1–6 minute shorts”…
…would be released in 2019 and that it would feature “the brand’s marquee characters voiced by their current voice actors in simple gag-driven and visually vibrant stories”.
The style of the series is to be reminiscent to those of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson, Bob Clampett and others. President of Warner Bros. Animation, Sam Register (creator of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi), along with Pete Browngardt serve as executive producers for the series. The shorts will bring all of the Looney Tunes together under one roof, including more obscure members like Pete Puma, Beaky Buzzard, Hubie and Bertie, Petunia Pig and Cicero Pig.
Cicero Pig? Now, that’s obscure. AFAIK, He’s never appeared outside of the comics. No mention of Lola, but I hope she shows up as well, along with Witch Hazel. A man can dream.
On June 12, 2019, a short titled “Dynamite Dance” served as a trailer for the series starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Roll the clip!
Now I’m not normally one to gush, but what I’ve seen of these cartoons so far is simply…
I am in freaking LOVE with the designs and aesthetics of these shorts. Everything just…pops! The colors are bright. The shadows, the light, the buoyancy. The characters are just bursting with life; they look like they could jump off the screen and starting running amok in your living room at any given moment.
Plus the artists captured the 40’s look and feel perfectly. If these cartoons didn’t look so shiny and new, I’d swear that they were actual classic shorts that got lost in the vault somewhere. If Wabbit/New Looney Tunes had looked like these shorts (though I know the amount of money required to produce animation of this quality for a weekly TV series would’ve bankrupted a Saudi Arabian king) the show would’ve had far fewer detractors.
And fans rejoice! The mayhem is back! Bombs! Anvils! Props! Squash-and-stretch physics! Solving problems with dynamite! WB listened to fans complaining about the absence of good old-fashioned cartoon chaos from The Looney Tunes Show and brought it back in spades. We wanted the slapstick back, and now we’ve got it. And the skies are ripe with love.
Plus it looks like we’ll be getting some classic WB team-ups, like Bugs and Elmer (a combo that was curiously lacking on The Looney Tunes Show and Wabbit/New Looney Tunes)…
…And Porky & Daffy. Cool, I’m definitely on board. But you know what we’re really happy to see? The triumphant return of this guy:
Remember this toon? The “crazy darn fool duck”? The black-feathered nut case who’s so crazy, he just doesn’t give a darn? Well, he has returned! The re-appearance of manic Daffy Duck on New Looney Tunes was not, repeat, NOT a fluke. This series already sold me the second I saw this:
YES!! My guy is back! We’ve elaborated on this here before, so I’ll keep it brief, but I can’t begin to say how happy I am to see that WB isn’t finished with OG insane Daffy Duck. I’ve had to endure the jealous, selfish, greedy jerk version of this character for soooo long that I was beginning to lose hope of ever seeing screwloose Daffy again, but he’s still here, and I hope he stays around for a loooong while, perhaps permanently.
No offense to Chuck Jones, but I’ve always preferred nut-job Daffy to his take. Just keeping it 100.
Now I’m OK with the classic pairings, but one thing (among others, I thought) that New Looney Tunes got very right was that they weren’t afraid to mix things up, pair off characters who didn’t usually interact much, if at all, like Foghorn and Taz or Elmer and Porky or Tweety and Sylvester with Speedy Gonzales, Gabby Goat, Pet Puma, Marc Antony and Claude Cat (seriously, somebody at Warner Bros. remembered the character of Claude Cat!). I hope the producers of these shorts don’t shy away from mixing up the character combinations; that keeps things fresh and interesting. Also don’t be afraid to put new spins on established characters like how NLT gave the bland character of Sniffles a shot in the arm by giving him a vigilante alter ego in the form of Dark Bat:
And I may be alone with this, but I also hope we haven’t seen the last of some of the new characters created for Wabbit/NLT, such as Squeaks the Squirrel…
I also wouldn’t mind seeing other NLT characters like Leslie P. Lilylegs, King Thes and Rhoda Roundhouse.
Just not Bigfoot. Sorry, but I found him to be irritatingly moronic and annoying. I personally don’t need to see him come back, and I take back the ‘sorry’ part.
-So yeah, I’m definitely digging what I’ve seen of Looney Tunes Cartoons. If they can keep up the quality of what I’ve seen of these cartoons so far as well as implement the stuff I mentioned above…
…I’m gonna be a happy camper. Now, onto the other HBO Max cartoon that got us curious.
Jellystone! is an upcoming animated series for streaming service HBO Max, which is set to launch in May 2020. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. C.H. Greenblatt, known for the series Chowder and Harvey Beaks, and Sam Register will both serve as executive producers.
The series will star many Hanna-Barbera characters, similar to shows like Yogi’s Gang and Laff-a-Lympics, living life in the town of Jellystone. While many living in the town work and play and get along together, there is always gonna be trouble happening for one another.
-OK, that could be cool. Sounds like it could be fun. The idea of a plethora of Hanna-Barbera stars taking up residence in a single area reminds me of Marvels’ Super Hero Squad Show, but with H-B characters. I’m down with the concept, and C. H. Greenblatt can be funny when he has a good concept, so sure. Let’s have a look at this cartoon.
I know I give some folks a hard time for pre-judging a show just by a few images, but these initial designs are AWFUL. To their credit, you can still easily tell who the characters are supposed to be, but these designs look hideously amateurish to be used on a show put out by a major studio for a multi-million dollar streaming service. They look like a 6-year-old child drew these characters with their crayons, and I’ve seen more talented 6-year-old children. I really hope that these are just first drafts and the designs get more refined, polished and improved upon by the time the show make its’ debut.
Not only are these designs super-crude looking, but the characters look so…stupid. As in low-IQ individuals. Seriously, why do they look so derpy? Most of them have these dopey expressions plastered on their faces, making them look like they’d have trouble walking around a tree. Top Cat looks freaking stoned, like he got trapped in a warehouse full of marijuana and had to smoke his way to freedom.
Look at this image of Yogi:
Yogi Bear has never had a Charles Atlas physique, but he’s never been this round and fat. He looks less like a bear and more like an anthropomorphic meatball with a head, arms and legs.
And how about this screen cap of Magilla Gorilla?
OK, points for including him. ’cause he’s always been kind of an obscure H-B character, but again, that face: derp-derp. Same deal with Mildew Wolf here:
OK, this one doesn’t look too bad, but then we come to pics like this one:
Gah! There it is again! That whole ‘derp-derp’ thing I mentioned earlier. Look, I’m really trying not to pre-judge this show too harshly, since I do like the idea behind it and I haven’t seen the characters put through the processes of animation nor have I seen any backgrounds, but some of these renderings are ugly with a capital UGH. In addition to many of them looking so moronic that they should be wearing T-shirts reading ‘I’D RATHER BE DROOLING’, there’s no heft to these characters; they all look so flat; there’s no feeling of weight to any of them. No shadows or light. Nothing. How could the same studio that produced something so awesome looking as Looney Tunes Cartoons be okay with putting out something like these cheeseball designs? The ‘classic’ H-B designs looked like Matisse paintings compared to these doodles.
And those long eyelashes on Jabberjaw? Why, just why?? Is Jabberjaw a female shark in this or what?
Speaking of females, there’s one thing we really hope gets addressed on Jellystone!: Namely, the glaring lack of female characters. I really hope Cindy Bear isn’t the only female inhabitant of Jellystone. Even if the producers have to make up a bunch of OCs, that’s preferable to Smurfette Syndrome. Jason had an idea: if you want another female character, since Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy are on this show, why not show us Augie’s mom as a character? That’s something they’ve never done before. I say why not? Disney recently did the unthinkable by making Huey, Dewey and Louie’s mom Della Duck into a character…
And the fans ate it up. So why not? Go for it, I say.
-Character designs aside, I am remaining cautiously optimistic for Jellystone!. If the show’s funny then that’ll make up for the less-than-stellar artwork and designs. On a final note: I noticed that one of the characters in the title card was Captain Caveman; does this mean that we could be seeing other H-B characters besides the 60’s ‘funny animal’ characters, like the Impossibles, the Chan Clan, Hong Kong Phooey, Space Ghost, the Galaxy Trio, the Teen Angels et al? That could be a hoot to see. Apart from this and the upcoming feature Scoob!…
…It seems that Warner Brothers Animation is really trying to create a Hanna Barbera Shared Universe. (And as a point of interest, Captain Caveman is supposed to appear in Scoob! as well, voiced by Tracy Morgan, of all people. OK, I want to go see this movie for that alone.) C.H. Greenblatt claims he’ll be “digging deep” for obscure characters for Jellystone!; he also says that he’ll be canonizing Yo, Yogi! in some form for this show. I’m fine with that…
Just make it absolutely nothing like its’ predecessor, and we’re good!