Archive for May, 2011

The Looney Tunes Show – Review

Looney Tunes Logo

I usually try not to do straight-up, out-and-out reviews, but I feel like The Looney Tunes Show do warrant at least a bit of a discussion, since there’s been a lot of talk, mostly negative, about this reboot. This cast of wacky characters, made immortal by the likes of Tex Avery, Robert McKimson, and Chuck Jones, have been thrust back into the limelight in a more generic, suburban area, redesigned in look and style. They are essentially goofy animals in a sitcom instead of characters in random, crazy situations. The “Looney” is hardly even touched upon, and the “Tunes” are relegated to 2-3 minute shorts which has a character singing about something dumb (perfect for the inevitable Youtube promo). And yet, I have to admit what I’ve seen was… rather entertaining.

It’s a tricky game. Essentially, in placing Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Speedy, and the rest in a sitcom, we’re entering territory which would usually involve character development. Not to say that they don’t deserve a bit of development, but it’ll be interesting to see how the writers will toe the line of keeping these characters fresh without retconning them to create audacious or inconsistent backstories or histories. Not many people are asking exactly how Bugs developed his acerbic, sarcastic wit, and whether it was in high school or college, and whether he went to those two places at all. So it’s easy to avoid that early on, but come season 2? I wish you luck.

The redesigns, for some reason, don’t look good in still photos, but work very well in motion. It’s refreshing to finally see models that have solid design, recognizable body types, and weight to them, designs that don’t look like they we’re created by interconnected straight-lines and/or what some have been calling “notebook doodles”. One of my favorite moments in Cats Don’t Dance was a simple scene where Danny and Miss Dimple talk back and forth at a table, and just watching them interact, watching their expressions and reactions and body language, was a real treat. And in a way I see that here. The sitcom elements actually work to emphasize the face and body. Animators can concentrate their efforts on the simpler movements and expressions, and you can tell these animators are truly enjoying it. (Although, anything below the waist looks kinda crappy. Daffy’s feet look like spikes, and Bugs feet are big, round Chi-pets.)

May 10th’s episode consisted of Bugs and Lola going on a date, while Daffy uses someone’s club ID number to schmooze in a fancy country club. The pacing and gags were solid, but nothing spectacular. Lola has went through the largest character change, from a strong, aggressive basketball player to an athletic, talkative crazy geek. The change-over, in theory, makes since. Space Jam Lola is pretty much impossible to develop in any long-term way. New Lola (NuLola?) can be mined much more for jokes, and seeing that she’s voiced by SNL star Kristen Wiig, there’s no need to worry about the comic timing. Still, the little things bother me, mainly the fact they moved her away from basketball (here, she plays tennis).

It’s clear that most characters will be regulated to jobs and roles that fit their character personalities. We probably will see Lola in most athletic events. Pepe Le Pew appears as the wedding planner (calling it – future roles include: interior designer, theater director, love guru). Porky seems to be the guy that never has pants (which is weird, since neither does Bugs or Daffy). I’m not sure how deep they’ll go in explaining how they make their money, but I’m somewhat fine with that.

What IS a nice surprise is the adult undercurrents the show has, which is probably the best throwback the 60s and 70s creators and writers could do. Remember, the classic cartoons were pretty risque by today’s standards, so it’s nice to see them push those boundaries, if even by increments. I was surprise to hear Lola mention flat out that “she had to pee”. Pepe gives both Lola and Bugs kisses upon introductions, and his sexual proclivities are pretty obvious (he was married 7 times, and steals Lola at the end for a potential 8th.) We probably won’t have characters shooting each other, but I think we’ll have some sly humor and relatively mature innuendos here and there. There’s no fart jokes, so there’s a start.

I don’t love the new show, but there’s a bit of potential, and it’s certainly no “Lunatics”. I’ll be keeping my eye on this. You should too, as I think we’re entering a new era in animated cartoons. (Tune in next week to see what that is.)


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