Next on the string of minor Christmas specials is “Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales,” a 1979 Christmas special. This one consisted of three shorts: two featuring Bugs, the third featuring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
There’s also interstitial segments of Bugs trying to lead a group of carolers—Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe Le Pew, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, and Porky Pig—with negative results.
Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol
One of the 8 billion versions of the classic Dickens story, and the first of two for the Looney Tunes cast; 2006’s “Bah, Humduck!” direct-to-DVD-movie is the second.
In this one, Yosemite Sam is Scrooge, Porky is Bob Cratchit, and Tweety is Tiny Tim. (When Bugs notes how “puny” Tiny Tim is, Tim retorts “if you had to live on birdseed, you’d be puny too!”) Bugs saves Cratchit’s job after Scrooge fires him on Christmas Eve (and forecloses on his house). To do so, Bugs resorts to his trademark tactics, including at one point dressing up as a ghost to scare Scrooge. At the end, Scrooge reforms…or so it seems.
The funniest part is after the end of the short. Bugs congratulates Sam on his acting as Scrooge, but Sam demands everyone give him back all the money he gave away during the story. He also insults the others while they do so: “just put the money in the hat, hamhocks, don’t be shy! You next, featherhead!”
This was the first Road Runner short in years by Chuck Jones himself. (The other two shorts in this special were produced by Friz Freleng’s DePatie-Freleng studio.)
The Coyote figures he can nab the Road Runner in the mountains near their desert (since a book he reads states “road runners hate cold and snow”), and thus lures him there. Unfortunately, his various cold-weather-themed attacks don’t work any better than his usual desert-themed tactics.
One of the best gags is the book the Coyote reads entitled “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Road Runners (But Was Afraid to Ask).”
The Fright Before Christmas
One of the 8 billion puns on “The Night Before Christmas” I’ve seen show up in animation over the years (including Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “The Powerpuff Girls” special “The Fight Before Christmas“).
In this case, the “fright” is the Tasmanian Devil, who somehow has gotten a hold of Santa’s costume and sleigh. Taz shows up at Bugs’ house (Bugs is in a house and not a rabbit hole in this special), after Bugs has sent his nephew Clyde to bed. (This special, I believe, marks Clyde’s final animated appearance to date.) As expected, Bugs easily thwarts the slobbering St. Nick-wannabe.
This one’s the funnier of the two Bugs shorts. My favorite part: Bugs reading to Taz his nephew’s “brief Christmas list,” a long list full of ludicrous-but-hilarious requests, including such items as “a solid-gold football… controlling interest in IBM… Frank Sinatra’s old address book… a second-hand diamond…”
On TV/home video
This special used to air frequently on CBS in the 80s. The shorts have since been broken up into their individual segments and inserted into the usual packages of Looney Tunes shorts for TV. They usually come with the “Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show”‘s generic title cards and intro music. However, the actual special itself hasn’t aired on TV in the US in years.
“Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales” is available as an extra on the “Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 5” DVD set, a worthwhile purchase for Looney Tunes fans. Meanwhile, the “Fright Before Christmas” short is available as an extra on the “Looney Tunes Platinum Collection, Volume 1” Blu-Ray release (not the DVD version).