The other day I, like the rest of the online world, got to see clips of the upcoming new Looney Tunes TV series, “The Looney Tunes Show.” Unlike the original shorts, this spin-off seems to be taking a more sitcom-like approach, keeping the characters in one setting (a suburban neighborhood), and more emphasis on dialogue than slapstick humor from what I’ve seen. The series debuts May 3 at 8 PM ET on Cartoon Network.
A few of the better aspects:
- The “Krypton” clip. Big surprise for a Superman fan, I know…
- The writers making a few shout outs to some of the original shorts, such as when Bugs (in the “Krypton” clip) mentions growing up “on the east side of New York” (the same line he used to describe his childhood in one of the original shorts), or Bugs tipping off to a clueless Daffy that Bugs’ birthday is July 27… which is the date in 1940 that his first cartoon debuted, so it is his “birthday.”
My two cents addressing some of the online criticisms of the show’s previews:
- The suburban setting: We’ve seen the Looney Tunes gang in a suburban/urban setting before. 1990s series “Tiny Toon Adventures” featured the Tiny Toons and Looney Tunes cast living in and around the fictional city of Acme Acres, which managed to provide a funny setting. Granted, “The Looney Tunes Show”‘s suburban setting looks more “realistic”/less slapstick than Acme Acres, but I’ll wait to see how it turns out. (Bonus points if they do name the gang’s town “Acme Acres,” or something with the word “Acme” in it).
- Speedy’s voice: I assume Speedy’s somewhat-different-sounding voice is an attempt to make him appear less stereotypical, a change I don’t mind. That and the clip with Speedy and Daffy was one of the funniest ones so far (along with the “Krypton” clip).
- Comparisons to the original shorts: Yes, there’s no way they can possibly match the classic Golden Age shorts, so I’ll be satisfied if this show lives up to the “Silver Age” WB shows that used the characters (Tiny Toons, Taz-Mania, Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries). These series also attempted to update the characters, but did so in a respectful (and funny) manner.
Finally, to list a few of my concerns:
- It looks a bit light on the slapstick and background/incidental music from the clips I’ve seen, presumably in favor of the sitcom-like approach. The lack of incidental music felt particularly odd to me; some of the best aspects of the original shorts were the use of appropriate music, such as “We’re In the Money” for moments involving money, etc.
- The feel of the clips remind me a lot of Cartoon Network’s “Regular Show.” Though I’d have to see whole episodes, of course, to get a better idea, the resemblance felt particularly strong with the clips of Lola Bunny (retooled from “Space Jam” into a loopy-acting would-be-girlfriend for Bugs).
- Hopefully the characters will get to go off on adventures to other places besides Acme Acres (or whatever this town is named), just as Buster and Babs did on “Tiny Toons” (or the Looney Tunes characters in the original shorts).
Overall, I look forward to seeing the debut of this show, and hope it manages to revive the characters’ fortunes on American TV (which they’ve been off of for way too long), and especially keeps them visible to kid viewers.