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

1 comment:

  1. You left out "See Ya Later Gladiator?!" (1968)
    Technically, this one WASN'T a DePatie-Freleng cartoon; it was actually produced by Warner Bros. Animation when they reopened in the late 1960s. It was pretty similar to the Groovie Goolies crossover, but Daffy was his usual greedy and heartless 1960s self, it had an even lamer premise, and Speedy Gonzales was also wasted here.
    To be fair, some of the late 1960s Warner shorts with Cool Cat and such were actually pretty good, but still can't compare to the 1940s and 1950s classics.