Aaah……Put the shut to the up!
Aaah……Put the shut to the up!
I’m not going to pretend that Space Jam: A New Legacy was one of the greatest cinematic achievements of our time, ’cause I know it wasn’t; it was a bloated, blatantly commercial cash grab for Warner Bros. and the NBA.
-But so was the first one.
That said, as a Looney Tunes fan, there were some things about the movie that I really dug. (The Looney Tunes of course being chief among the examples.)
For one thing, I really liked the concept of the WB Server-Verse. The visual geek in me loves the premise that all of Warner Bros.’ various TV shows, movies, franchises and properties residing in their own respective planetoids inside the studio’s giant server. Was it a giant plug for WB? Yes, but I still think it was cool, so I don’t care.
I’m not going to recap the entire plot of the movie because a) I’m not a reviewer, b) this ain’t a review of the entire movie and c) it’s been out for a while now, so those of you who have seen it already know the story and those who haven’t clearly don’t care, but my all-favorite sequence in the film, not surprisingly, takes place once Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes show up.
When Al G. Rhythm (get it?) dumps LeBron James into the depths of the Server-Verse, he lands in Looney Tunes World (or just Tune World, potato, po-tah-to)…
…LeBron bumps into Bugs. After some classic toon shenanigans…
…Bugs relates that he too has a score to settle with Al G. It seems some time prior Al told the Looney Tunes that they were wasting their talents on their home world and convinced them to split to seek their fortunes out in the Server-Verse (what grudge Al G. seemed to have against the Looney Tunes is unclear; professional jealousy maybe? Or perhaps he took them out to dinner one night and they stuck him with the check), causing the other toons to abandon Tune World, leaving Bugs all alone; he opted to stay behind because he enjoys just being a wacky toon and has no other aspirations. Kudos, writers. That is so him. Bugs Bunny is the Alex Rieger of the Looney Tunes. (That’s a reference to Taxi, BTW, kids; ask your parents.)
So we come to my all-favorite sequence in the movie: after Bugs finagles Marvin the Martian into “lending” him his space rocket, LeBron and Bugs embark on an epic journey through the Server-Verse. LeBron thinks they’re assembling a team of WB owned all-stars and heavy hitters to form the ultimate basketball team (such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Gandalf, King Kong and the Iron Giant), but Bugs (who, let’s face it, has gone a little nuts from being on his own for so long) is surreptitiously using this as a means to reunite with his fellow Looney Tunes family.
The first planet Bugs and LeBron visit is DC World, home of — no surprise — the DC Super Heroes.
LeBron expects that since they appear on each planet decked out as famous characters from each world (BTW, whenever they’re on the planet of a live-action property, LeBron’s live-action, but on the world of an animated franchise, he’s a cartoon, nice touch), that here he’ll be somebody dope…
Bugs manifests onto the planet’s surface as Batman (or Bat-Rabbit, I guess) with LeBron as Robin! (“Robin?? I’m freakin’ ROBIN???!?”)
The entirety of DC World is rendered in the manner of the 90’s through ’00’s DCAU (Detective Comics Animated Universe) cartoons, with the runaway bullet train Bugs and LeBron are pursuing whizzing past the DCAU versions of Dick Grayson, Selina Kyle, Comm. James Gordon, Jimmy Olsen…
Anyway, it turns out that Daffy Duck is the one responsible for this impending disaster (so what’s changed?); he’s masterminded this whole crisis so he can get filmed saving the day (well, Porky Pig dressed as Jimmy Olsen is the one doing the actual filming) so, he, Superduck, can get admitted into the Justice League. Unfortunately, Daffy breaks the lever that stops the train, so now it really is zooming out of control, all set to crash into an orphanage! The train (with LeBron and Bugs clinging on to the top and Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth and Harlene Quinzel trapped inside) zips by the red-skied Gotham City from The New Batman Adventures and the DCAU version of Atlantis, before finally coming to an abrupt halt. Daffy is all set to shout out to the world that he’s the one who did all of this, until he comes face to face with the guy who actually stopped the train…
…Big Blue himself, flanked by Aquaman (sans the hook hand), Batgirl, Green Lantern John Stewart and the Flash. Suddenly the idea of shooting hoops is sounding pretty good to Daffy about now.
“What a Lovely Day!”
The next stop on our Planetary Product Placement tour is Mad Max World, or to be more precise, Mad Max: Fury Road, where the Looney Tunes’ resident desert dwellers, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, are currently residing.
Wile has apparently joined the ranks of the War Boys, using his newfound marauder status to — what else?–
…Catch the Road Runner!
He fails of course, but we do get to see some cool explosions. So that’s 2 more down.
“Yeah, Baby, Yeah!”
Next up is Austin Powers World. Here Elmer Fudd has assumed the role of Mini-Me…
While Sylvester has become Dr. Evil’s bald cat, Mr. Bigglesworth!
What happened to Tweety, you ask? When Elmer and Sylvester board the ship, Sylvester spits out Tweety; apparently he devoured him some time previous. (How long does it take toons to digest, anyway?)
I can’t add anything to Taz’s entry into the movie, so I’ll just replay it here. Roll the clip!
“Sing it, Sam!“
We next visit WB Classic Movies World, specifically Casablanca, where Yosemite Sam has replaced Dooley Wilson in Rick’s Cafe.
A Dance with Roosters
Next we find Foghorn Leghorn as Daenerys, riding a dragon outside of Game of Thrones World.
-Incidentally, an earlier draft of the script had LeBron and Bugs actually visiting GoT World, and Foghorn was originally going to play Stark. I have no horse in this race because I’ve never watched Game of Thrones. I’ve never watched GoT, never watched Westworld, never watched Deadwood, never watched Boardwalk Empire, but I never missed an episode of Laff-A-Lympics or Freakazoid!. I was that weirdo.
“Matrix Are for Kids”
We next arrive at Matrix World, where the unlikely team of Granny and Speedy Gonzales having taken on the roles of Trinity and Neo, respectively. Here they are in action.
Speedy’s “What’s happenin’, bro?” gets me every time.
Side Bar: Can I take a moment to point out just how awesome Granny was in this movie? She was only a cheerleader in the first Space Jam (though that didn’t save her from getting tackled by the Monstars when the ball landed in her hands), but here she’s a full-on team member, talking smack, karate kicking, sipping martinis at halftime, taking down the Goon Squad member Chronos and riding her motor scooter through exploding buses being launched by Wile E. Coyote. The producers cranked Granny’s usual spunk up to 11, and I’m here for it. I hope we get to see more of ‘Gonzo Granny’ in future Looney Tunes projects. Fingers crossed. End Side Bar.
This Rabbit, This Warrior
The last Looney Tune to be rounded up is Lola Bunny, who’s migrated to Themyscira, home to Diana, aka Wonder Woman and the Amazons. Wait, didn’t we already go to DC World? No, that was DC TV cartoon world, Lola’s in Wonder Woman comic book world; it’s completely different.
The animation and visuals here are gorgeous. The characters and backgrounds are rendered to look like they came straight out of a comic book, complete with all the scenes being blocked off into panels. The thin outlines on the characters, Wonder Woman’s flowing black hair, the Amazons of all shapes, sizes and colors…(chef’s kiss).
Anyways, Lola is about to partake in a time trial obstacle course in order to become a full-fledged Amazon, not the easiest thing to do when Bugs keeps calling for her attention in the crowd. Bugs and LeBron follow her and nearly fall into a lava pit for their troubles, but when LeBron tells Lola that he needs to rescue his son, she rescues them and agrees to go with them.
Lola doesn’t complete the obstacle course in time, but Wondy informs her that her heroic act cinched her in. Diana declares Lola an Amazon, and she gives her consent to go compete in the ‘ball of baskets’. Yay.
OK, enough gushing. I do have some gripes about this. For one thing (and this is more of a general gripe I had with the film), I really wish could’ve gotten the screwball version of Daffy and the funny version of Lola here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed their scenes well enough, but think how much cooler those scenes would’ve been if we had the insane version of Daffy just messing with everybody, and would it have killed them to have Lola crack one joke? They had a blueprint for Lola right there from The Looney Tunes Show and New Looney Tunes, and they didn’t use it, why? Even if they wanted to make Lola a jock and a warrior wannabe, I would taken that (though I like scatterbrained weirdo Lola just fine), but even going that route with Lola doesn’t mean she couldn’t be funny. DBK of Toonland Inquirer is right: seeing the Looney Tunes revert back to their 1950’s personas after 2 shows with them adhering to the 1940’s style (which I prefer overall) was a bit of a step down for me, but I still enjoyed them overall.
Finally, my other beef with this sequence is that there was a major glaring omission. Somebody got passed over.
Of all the Tune Squad, we never saw which planet/franchise Gossamer ended up on; he just poofed onto the deck of the ship during the montage. A companion graphic novel version of the movie depicted Gossamer in the world of Scooby-Doo…
And you know, I’d like to have seen that. If it was was animated, maybe it can be bonus footage on the Space Jam: A New Legacy Blu-Ray.
The again, knowing Warner Brothers, they’d probably just release it as a DVD crossover.
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!
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, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sesame Street, 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!
Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
-Before we begin, I just to keep you guys abreast of what’s been going on with us. As those who’ve been following us know, last year we planned to stop blogging and switch this site over to visual media (videos, online comics, etc.); those plans have not been abandoned (we’re writing up scripts, taking notes and saving up for the necessary equipment and tutorials even as I type this), but at the same time, we’re not content to just sit on our hands and do nothing while we prepare to make that jump. We’ve been fairly active on Tumblr (that’s twinsanitycomedy.tumblr.com for those who are interested), but we’ve been compiling ideas since then and we still have a creative itch that needs scratching. So, while we in the process of transitioning, Jason and I will continue to make the occasional blog post here until then. It’s not going to be at the pace it has been years ago; our current schedule and priorities won’t accommodate that, but ideally we’d like to put up at least 1 or 2 blog posts per month until we’re ready to start making videos full time. Now, on with the silliness.
One setting/oeuvre that I’ve been digging these past several months is the tropical island setting, in particular Magical Islands. Those tropical paradises where it’s always sunny and funny and exotic creatures and magical phenomena abound. Today’s Nerdvana will be spotlighting some of my favorite magical island settings/shows/stuff.
First, I’ll be giving an honorable mention to Jaama, the setting of Animal Jam.
While I’m indeed enthralled by Jaama, I won’t be covering it at great length here since I’m currently doing a Pop Dream on Animal Jam (which I do plan to continue this year, I promise!), so anything I’d say about Jaama here would be redundant. I’ll save my thoughts and feelings on Jaama for the upcoming Pop Dream installments. Also, like many of these Nerdvanas, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them.
Let’s do this, people! Smiles, smiles!
Kick it, gang!
I love that song. Now, on to the meat: some of my favorite enchanted island settings.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY
Like many folks who played games in the late 90’s through early ’00’s, I loved the Donkey Kong Country series. Putting DK in a sprawling jungle island setting and giving him a ton of new friends, enemies and areas to explore was a stroke of genius.
One thing I love about Donkey Kong Island (NOT Congo Bongo, BTW!) is how it houses several different and radically diverse areas and climates within it: forest, dessert, grassland, brambles, ocean, beach, frozen wasteland, bayou and of course rain forest.
Plus, the DKC games gave us the Brothers Bear. I love the idea of multiple siblings with names that begin with the same latter and each of them has their own personal quirks and shticks.
-You know, that could be a separate Nerdvana unto itself. Hmmm…..
YABBA DABBA DINOSAURS
Jason already covered this show on Brain Candy, so I’ll keep it brief; I’ll just say that Warner Bros. Studios are fools for giving up on this idea so quickly.
Yeah, the art style takes some getting used to (Mark Marek wouldn’t have been my first choice for the designs, and I’m definitely not feeling the long pants on Bamm-Bamm) but how could anyone not love the idea of a savage land filled with wild, dangerous dinosaurs existing just adjacent to Bedrock? If you ask me, YDD! was just the shot in the arm the franchise needed.
People are free to disagree with me, but I thought the running gags involving Dino running for the hills at any given opportunity and the Wikipedia spoofs with Pebbles were funny.
Plus after 2 failed attempts, the studio finally found a way to work Captain Caveman into the Flintstones mythos that actually made sense. Make Cavey the Tarzan of The Crags. Making him a jungle wild man would finally explain why he looks and acts so differently from the civilized citizens of Bedrock; obviously if he spent his entire life in The Crags he wouldn’t be straight-laced and civilized. Come on, guys, it’s right there!
CRAIG OF THE CREEK
Yeah, I know I’m late to the party with this one; I’ve only recently discovered this show, but it’s good, despite not getting the press or attention of CN’s other current shows. No, it’s not a multi-layered, hyper-emotional, grand sprawling epic like Infinity Train or Steven Universe, but every show doesn’t have to be that. You don’t always need a 5-course turkey dinner, sometimes just a nice burger and fries will suffice.
Like Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs, one thing I like about Craig of the Creek is how there’s this crazy wilderness area just beyond the safe, peaceful, quiet suburbs that the kids all live in, and no matter how wild and crazy things get at the Creek, they can always just go home at any time. I like how the Creek boasts several different tribes and factions of kids of all types and colors, co-existing more or less harmoniously, such as:
…The Horse Girls, a tribe of girls obsessed with horses (a tad sterotypical, but stereotypes have to come from somewhere…)
The Creek Witches, Tabitha and Courtney (in actuality a same-sex couple of Goth teenagers, and no, that’s not a joke; they really are a couple.)
A black Magical Girl from’outer space’ named Sparkle Cadet (where’s it carved in stone that all magical girls have to be white or Asian?)
You know, Craig, as the Creek’s resident map-maker, has already compiled a detailed list of these Creek Kids, so I won’t have to:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Craig’s best buds: Kelsey,
I only have one real nitpick about this show: I think, despite the premise, the show’s a tad too grounded in reality. If it were my show, I’d spice things up a little:
Why not toss in some actual monsters?
And while we’re at it, why not toss in some talking animal mascots a la Terry Dactyl from The Funny Company?
-Side bar: another element of this show that needs to mentioned is how the titular character and his family are African-American without them being ethnic stereotypes. Yes, Craig’s family is black, but the producers didn’t set the show in the ‘hood, the family isn’t broke, mean or cheap, the slang and music on the show aren’t super-funkay, and the neighborhood the family lives in is ethnically diverse without race ever being an issue or the topic of conversation.
I applaud this. Truly good mixed casting is something we could stand to see more of on kids’ shows (shows in general, actually). It’s more honest, more interesting and a positive example for the kiddos. It’s one thing to get up on a soapbox and preach about folks getting along and respecting people different from you and not treating them differently because of their skin color or ancestry, but it’s another to show your lead characters simply living this way as if it were the most normal and natural thing in the world. Example can teach just as well as any platitude, perhaps even better.
This is the kind of cartoon I’d like to make myself one day: the ‘ultimate kid-centered domestic comedy’ starring a family consisting of 2 parents, some kids and some pets, featuring people of color and a range of ethnicities without race ever being a big deal. There’d be a gimmick of course, but the characters’ skin color wouldn’t be it.
SUMMER CAMP ISLAND
Another CN show that doesn’t get talked about very much, this one is a cute but odd little show about 2 best friends, an anthropomorphic elephant-y thing named Oscar and a hedgehog-y thing named Hedgehog…
…Who are sent to stay at, you guessed it, a summer camp on a magical island.
Said island boasts such unique things as giant monsters, a moon and clouds with faces…
…3 counselors who look like cutie-pie “popular girls” but are actually witches, magic powers, pointy hats, flying broomsticks and all.
My personal favorite of the 3 is Alice, she’s the cute one who likes to make everything around her cute….
Second favorite is Betsy, the nice one who sleeps with a sentient tree…
…And she’s also a werewolf. ‘Kay…
Also on the island are ice cream mountains, confetti mines…
…an alien kid something-or-other named Puddle, who flies around in a tiny UFO and hails from unnamed alien planet that resembles a Lisa Frank illustration and is love with his alien king (no, that wasn’t a typo)…
…And a living, talking set of Pajamas, aptly named Pajamas.
The show’s cute, and I like the concept of a magical island with a summer camp on it (otherwise I wouldn’t have listed it here), but I think it might be a little TOO ‘out there’. I don’t dig that all the characters are animals; heck, they don’t even look like animals; they look like lolicons with animal noses. Did the cast need to be anthros on a show with monsters, witches, aliens and assorted stuff? Given that, do we even need a distinction between the ‘normal’ world and the ‘strange’ island? The entire show is strange; it’s full of animal things with human anatomies! Plus, I can’t over-emphasize this, one of the characters is a sentient pair of pajamas!
TESCO BREKKIE SQUAD
If you live in the UK, you’ve likely seen these. Originally created for the Summer Olympics (hence the sports motif), these characters are cute jungle animals who live on a jungle island and adorn the cereal boxes at Tesco. They don’t always have to be complicated.
Ah, no. Not Tam Tam, but TEMTEM. The new steam game that mimics Pokemon, but in a good way.
TemTem is set on a set of floating tropical islands (which is why it’s on this list) called the Aiborne Archipelago.
Consisting of Deniz, the Floating Sea, Omninesea, Myrisles, Tucma, the End of All Things, Kisiwa, the desert jewels, Cipanku, misty hills and hypertech metropolis and Arbury, land of rain and book, in case anyone was wondering.
The TemTem themselves, in addition to being super-cute…
…Come in a variety of types: Fire, Nature, Water, Electric, Mental, Earth, Wind, Crystal, Digital, Melee, Toxic and Neutral.
Plus, I just plain like the name: TemTem. It’s got that cool, native-sounding jungle island ring to it. Not unlike Jaama.
And there you have it. Some of my favorite magical tropical island imagery.