Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Worst Looney Tunes Productions

Everybody loves the Looney Tunes.  At their best they are unquestionable masterpieces.  Even when they are not at their best they are for the most part tried and true formulas that we can't get enough of.  And while the Looney Tunes have inspired and been featured in quality cartoons (Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Looney Tunes: Back in Action) there have been plenty of cartoons that are not up to the Termite Terrace level of quality.  Plenty of lists exist to the likes of What's Opera, Doc? and Duck Amuck (practically half of the 50 Greatest Cartoons book is dedicated to Looney Tunes), so here is looking at the lesser ones.

10. Baby Looney Tunes
To be perfectly honest I used to watch this before getting on the bus to go to school.  It is enjoyable and pleasant enough.  This is playing it completely safe with the Looney Tunes and it is kind of cute.  But clever, funny, and top notch animation?  Definitely not.

9. The Looney Tunes Show
Apparently this show does have a following and Nostalgia Critic just made a video defending the series, so maybe it has improved.  I gave up on it after trying out a few episodes because I found it just dull.  There was nothing funny or no real jokes attempted.  Sure it is set up like a sitcom (that could at times use a laugh track), but these characters aren't designed for that format they need physical gags.  I do admire the show's producers who admitted to trying something new since they couldn't top the classic Looney Tunes, but it isn't for me.

8. Pre-1940s Shorts
It took Warner Bros. quite a while to find their footing.  While their early efforts were well animated there was not an abundance of fun or creativity to them.  Their main goal was to sell Warner Bros. sheet music and ripoff Disney's popular Silly Symphonies (Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes are both titular ripoffs of the Disney series).  But after Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising left the studio and the main directors created their own identities (as Chuck Jones did with Dover Boys, he has pretty much disowned everything prior to that) they created the classics we remember today.

7. Space Jam
I grew up with this movie and I'm sure a lot of you did too.  I have fond memories of it and just last week a friend brought it up.  It is a fun bit of nineties nostalgia, but as a Looney Tunes production it definitely falls short.  The characterization is off, the animation is not that great and the gags are pretty cheap.  Not to mention the weak live-action side of the production.  In Jerry Beck's Animated Movie Guide the reviewer of this film points out that Bugs Bunny should have been able to trick the aliens from Moron Mountain back onto their ship easily.  It is difficult to find a feature length dilemma for these characters because they can solve all of their problems in seven minutes.  Looney Tunes: Back in Action is much better.

6. CGI Shorts
I have no problem with computer animation.  I have a problem with studios forcing characters designed and perfected in traditional animation to change formats.  Sometimes it works, surprisingly it did in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  But the five CGI Looney Tunes shorts released just look off.  It lacks the subtlety and personality of 2D.  What's more the concepts of these shorts are really not that strong, they just exist because studios won't to jump on the bandwagon of others who are taking actual risks.

5. Tweety's High Flying Adventure
Again, Looney Tunes cannot carry a feature narrative.  This at least has a simple, episodic structure, that of Around the World in 80 Days.  But Tweety is not a lead character and Sylvester is definitely not a villain.  That completely misses the point of their relationship.  I don't remember much from this, caught it on TV once as a kid.  I think that Tweety ended up finding a girlfriend and singing a number of forgettable songs.  Tweety merchandise must have been really popular to justify this.

4. Bah, Humduck!  A Looney Tunes Christmas
I started watching this on TV but I turned it off after Speedy Gonzales said, "Merry Christmas, or as we call it in my country, Feliz Navidad."  Don't use these characters to pander to the audience, just let them be funny.  The attempted jokes prior did not inspire much faith either.

3. DePatie-Freleng Shorts
After Warner Bros. quit animation in the sixties they leased their studio to the new DePatie-Freleng.  After DePatie-Freleng had been producing their own shorts (Pink Panther) WB contracted them to produce new Looney Tunes shorts.  These were a huge drop in quality as DePatie-Freleng's animation became more and more limited.  These can still be seen as Looney Tunes shorts as Friz Freleng was a producer and Robert McKimson directed most of them but they just lacked any creativity.  The most prolific shorts dealt with Daffy Duck trying to catch Speedy Gonzales.  Nobody ever really figured out why.  Also the logo was terrible during this era too.

2. Loonatics Unleashed
When this was announced a ten year old started a petition to get Warner Bros. to redesign and reformat the show they announced, a lot of people weren't happy that they were changing the Looney Tunes so much.  The petition succeeded as Loonatics got new names and designs but it did not lead to a good show.  There were no attempted jokes so one has to assume it was an action cartoon but it was not exciting.  Just not good at all.

1. Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies
This is just the worst of the worst.  In anything.  I don't know where to begin.  I may dedicate an entire blogpost to this atrocity sometime.  But for right now view it here, it is fascinatingly terrible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulvsFtXQ2kM

Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Characters That Marvel Should Use in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

ABC picked up the Joss Whedon series which is a continuation of the extremely profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Clark Gregg's popular character Phil Coulson will be headlining the series along with several new characters.  I will make a list of Marvel characters that should make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut on the upcoming series later, but this is a list for existing MCU characters that should make an appearance on the show.  As cool as it would be to see the Avengers on TV I imagine they would not be happy to learn that Fury let them think that Coulson died (also I do not see Robert Downey Jr. shooting a guest spot).  These are characters that could easily transition to the small thing for a guest or recurring role.  I am counting out Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury because I think that it is a given that he will appear (or at least do a really awesome voiceover).

10. Galaga Guy from The Avengers
I doubt that a nameless S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who plays eighties video games during a world crisis would have what it takes to make it to Level 7, but it would be fun if they made a reference to this gag.

9. The Cellist from The Avengers
This was an unseen character in The Avengers that Coulson had previously had some sort of relationship with.  As the star of the series it would be nice to show more of Coulson's personal life.  Although Coulson's existence is a secret it could make a fun episode if he has to save this cellist.

8. Doc Samson from Incredible Hulk
One of the most popular actors on ABC is Modern Family's Ty Burrell.  Burrell had a bit part in Incredible Hulk as Leonard Samson.  I am not sure what Marvel's policy on The Incredible Hulk is, but even though Banner was recast and reinterpreted I assume that it is still being treated as in continuity.  S.H.I.E.L.D. could go to Samson if they needed a psychiatrist or general smart guy to consult with.

7. Happy Hogan from Iron Man movies
Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan is a real fun character.  It was a lot of fun seeing him with more screen time in Iron Man 3.  If S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to contact Stark Industries it would be easy to get their forehead of security a guest spot.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D needs to tie to Iron Man somehow.

6. Winter Soldier from Captain America: Winter Soldier
The movie is not out yet and I do not know how it will handle the Winter Soldier, but the work Winter Soldier does is right up S.H.I.E.L.D.'s alley.  Depending on the interpretation of him he could be an enemy or ally to Coulson's crew.  He could even join the series' main cast after the movie is released.

5. The Leader from Incredible Hulk
One huge advantage that this series has is that it can pick up dangling plot points from the movies.  One of the intended sequel hooks for The Incredible Hulk was that Samuel Sterns turned into the gamma powered Leader.  It does not look like any movies will follow this but it is a perfect premise for an episode of a TV series.  The Leader is not a special effects heavy villain or a physical threat, he could play a big bad that complements Coulson's crew well.  Tim Blake Nelson would make a great recurring villain that would work on TV.

4. Jasper Sitwell from Thor, The Avengers and Marvel One-Shots
Sitwell is one of the more prolific S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the movies and comics.  I am sure he will be used, but it would be fun to see his legendary patsy.

3. Erik Selvig from Thor and The Avengers
Stellan Skarsgard is a well respected, prolific actor but he is not too big of a star to turn down TV work.  Much like Coulson this man has seen and done a lot.  It is doubtful that he could return to a normal life after The Avengers.  I imagine that the character would continue to work with S.H.I.E.L.D at least as a consultant.  He would make a fun guest or even recurring character that would help with ratings.

2. Stan Lee from Everything
Okay it is a given that Stan cameos in everything Marvel, but I still wanted to mention him.  And I am cheating in his inclusion because he is not one character he is many.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should continue this tradition.  He could play one recurring role (a great opportunity for Stan to play a big character) or a great gag for the series would have him cameo as a different character each season.  S.H.I.E.L.D. was his concept and audiences love spotting his cameos, Marvel is almost required to keep this tradition.

1. Maria Hill from The Avengers
Cobie Smulders has said she was unable to join the series because of her commitment to How I Met Your Mother.  But when the series finally ends next year (man they dragged that story out way too long) she would be free and would make a great addition to the cast.  Really hope to see more of her Maria Hill.