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Peeks: First Impressions of ‘Looney Tunes Cartoons’ and ‘Jellystone!’

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.

hbo-max-header-720x720

HBO…to the Max!

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:

Spongebob Meh

OK. Cool. Whatever.

…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:

funny cartoon eyes

“OK, NOW you’ve got my attention!”

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

looney-tunes cartoons-2

“Ehhh, what’s clickin’, Doc?”

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

Uncle Grandpa

Yeah, that Peter Browngardt.

…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”…

Looney-Tunes Cartoons 1

 

…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”.

Bugs_Bunny

“Hey, Doc. I’d like to talk to ya about the Looney Tunes Cartoons Initiative.”

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.

LTC Cast

If you’ve ever wondered what characters like the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian and Taz would’ve looked like had they been created in the ’40’s, wonder no more.

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…

Amazing GIF

 

LTC - mummydummy

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.

Looney-Tunes-Cartoons-Art

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.

ltct_014_still_01-1

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.

LooneyTunesCartoonsFeature-min-1

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)…

LTC - Curseofthemonkeybirdscreen

…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:

LTC - Crazy Daffy

“Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!”

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:

 

LTC Daffy

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.

LTC - Wetcementscreen

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…

SqueaksSquirrel

You’re free to disagree, but I thought Squeaks made a decent sidekick for Bugs; aside from team-ups or crossovers, Bugs is usually alone, so a character like Squeaks is good because he gives Bugs someone to bounce lines off of and have his back when he inevitably starts cooking up some deviltry.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing other NLT characters like Leslie P. Lilylegs, King Thes and Rhoda Roundhouse.

Bigfoot_wabbit

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…

Happy Camper

…I’m gonna be a happy camper. Now, onto the other HBO Max cartoon that got us curious.

JELLYSTONE!

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.

jellystone

Creeped_Out_emoticon_emoji_face-512

“Gah? Ahhh! AAAAAHHHHH! It Burns! It burns so badly!!”

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:

Jellystone 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?

Jellystone Magilla

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:

Jellystone Mildew

OK, this one doesn’t look too bad, but then we come to pics like this one:

Jellystone!_poster.PNG

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…

Della Duck

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!

scoob-movie-2020

…Whose art, designs and animations actually look GOOD, just pointing that out…

…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…

Yo Yogi

Just make it absolutely nothing like its’ predecessor, and we’re good!

17 Comments

  1. I wonder if Magilla Gorilla will speak in Jellystone. When he appeared in episode 3 of Scooby Doo And Guess Who, he only made regular gorilla noises. Frank Welker has a good range for characters who speak (whether human or animal), so he could have easily done a good voice for him.

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    • silverstar

      I’ve never seen Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?; didn’t know Magilla appeared in that. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but given that Jellystone! is full of talking animals, it wouldn’t be a shock if Magilla spoke in it. I just really hope the art and character designs get cleaned up, if not completely remade, by the time this series becomes set to air. I’m really trying not to be so lookist, but these designs just aren’t very good, especially when compared to the epic artwork of Looney Tunes Cartoons. We’re talking serious ‘silk purse VS sow’s ear’ business here.

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  2. Regarding Jellystone: To be fair, those character drawings are just early sketches. We’ve haven’t seen the finished animation yet and most of those sketches have no backgrounds. C.H. Greeblatt’s drawing style was never “classical”. When I first saw Chowder, it looked to me like the cartoons that aired in between the live action skits on Sesame Street. If Jellystone is really funny and the stories are well written, I might be able to tolerate how the characters look. I just hope that this will be better than Yo, Yogi!, and I also hope that there will be some female characters on the show that aren’t just secondary love interest characters like Cindy Bear.

    As for Looney Tunes Cartoons: What can I say? It looks fantastic! It’ll be worth subscribing to HBO Max for that reason alone. I think that this is what fans wanted The Looney Tunes Show and Wabbit!/New Looney Tunes to be, although it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t hate either show. I enjoyed New Looney Tunes and while I didn’t love TLTS, I didn’t have the hate boner for it that a lot of people on the internet did.

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  3. It’s a minor thing, but it’s interesting. At around 3:30 in this video, Eric Bauza mentioned that this isn’t the only time he auditioned for Bugs Bunny. He also auditioned for him on The Looney Tunes Show, though he ended up being cast as Marvin The Martian.

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  4. https://mobile.twitter.com/hbomax/status/1252585246593179648

    Here’s a trailer for Looney Tunes Cartoons. The show comes out May 27.

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  5. silverstar

    But…but, Bugs’ gloves are yellow instead of white. Worst show ever! Zero stars!

    Just kidding. Seriously, I’m liking what I’m seeing so far; normally I wouldn’t consider subscribing to a streaming service for just one show, but I’m thinking of subscribing to HBO Max for this.

    Hopefully we can finally get to see some footage of Jellystone! soon. I still don’t like the art style, but maybe it’ll look better to me when put through the process of animation. I’ll be able to overlook the derpy character designs if the show is funny and well-written.

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  6. silverstar

    Just a quick heads-up: according to the producers, Pepe LePew and Speedy Gonzalez will not be appearing on Looney Tunes Cartoons. They’re on some kind of ‘no-no list’, apparently. Odd, since both characters appeared on The Looney Tunes Show and New Looney Tunes.

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  7. While the show doesn’t officially come out until May 27, you can watch this short here. It’s about 5 and a half minutes in length.

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  8. silverstar

    I just pre-ordered HBO Max today, so when the service launches we’ll be able to see these shorts in their entirety. Maybe we’ll do a Cartoon Country or a What The Funny on Looney Tunes Cartoons somewhere down the line.

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  9. Another short came out on YouTube, this one being under 3 minutes. Like the previous short, the credits are in the description.

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    • I’m liking what I’m seeing of these shorts so far. We’ll likely be doing a more detailed dig into Looney Tunes Cartoons when the series proper launches after the 27th. That will be covered in Cartoon Country or perhaps we could even cover it as a mini series on What The Funny, under the right circumstances. Of course, I’ll have to finish the Regular Show mini series that I started back in 2018 (!) first, but that’s coming. Please be patient.

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  10. silverstar

    SlashFilm.com has a review of Looney Tunes Cartoons, viz:
    https://www.slashfilm.com/hbo-max-new-looney-tunes-cartoons-review/

    -I agree with the author for the most part, save for 2 small points:

    1. I completely disagree with the author’s assessment of New Looney Tunes; I thought it came pretty darn close to capturing the manic energy of the original shorts while at the same time bringing the characters into the 21st century. I liked New Looney Tunes; I don’t care what the internet says.

    2. His point about the new voices sounding “off”. C’mon, man. That’s so nitpicky. Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet, June Foray and Arthur Q. Bryan have all passed on, there’s no way we’re ever going to get a 100% reiteration of their vocalizations short of splicing and editing together their every spoken syllable from the original cartoons or black magic. Do Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza sound exactly like Mel Blanc? No, but no 2 human beings have the exact same voice, so who was really expecting them to? You can still instantly recognize their impressions as Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Elmer, Sam, Granny, Sylvester, Tweety, Marvin et al, so what’s the problem?

    Look, we’re never going to get a complete, flawless and indistinguishable rehashing of the original Warner Bros. shorts, because that’s simply not possible, the boys from Termite Terrace are gone and their work can never be totally replicated, just like how there will never be another Elvis, another Beatles or another Woodstock, but that doesn’t mean that new artists, producers can’t or shouldn’t try to do new things with the characters, nor does it mean that they can’t be good in their own right. It should only matter if the new material is good. Quality should be what matters, not whether or not it’s a mirror image of what the original artists did. Let’s try to see the forest for the trees here.

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  11. Two new shorts premiered today on Facebook. Here’s the complete stream.

    Also, since it’s not here yet (it’s been online for a while), here’s Tunnel Vision.

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    • We’ve seen those already, but thanks. I especially liked “Bubble Dum”.

      Honestly, this is what “The Looney Tunes Show” should have been. I liked the half hour stories OK, but these characters work best in shorts. They just don’t lend themselves to 22 minute plots, for the most part.

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      • It’s interesting you mention The Looney Tunes Show given how Matt Danner (director on Mucha Lucha and Xiaolin Showdown and later known for Muppet Babies 2018 and Legend Of The Three Caballeros) was the one who originally developed the show back when it was called Laff Riot (in the finalized version of the show, he’s a director and storyboard artist). He even kick-started Eric Bauza’s career for the Looney Tunes (probably helped by how the two have been best friends for over 20 years). Interestingly, I’ve seen more love for The Looney Tunes Show in recent years because of how it wasn’t completely trying to emulate the original shorts (I’ve seen on Twitter and YouTube more positive things to say about the show recently).

        https://mobile.twitter.com/MattyDanner/status/1264376863029248002

        https://mobile.twitter.com/MattyDanner/status/1264380475839148032

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      • I know this is mainly about Looney Tunes Cartoons, but it’s interesting to note. Recently, the intro for Laff Riot was leaked online. It also sounds like Bugs would’ve been voiced by Joe Alaskey (Mel Blanc’s 2nd successor) rather than Jeff Bergman (his 1st successor).

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  12. Pete Browngardt said how, when they pitched Looney Tunes Cartoons, they showed many of the original shorts to a test audience of kids, and never told them they were decades old. They liked them. This reminds me of how Nickelodeon thought Legend Of Korra would be a flop with boys since it starred a girl until they saw a test audience of boys liking her.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2020/05/25/hbo-max-brings-back-bugs-bunny-and-the-looney-tunes-gang-in-classic-style/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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