The Looney Tunes Show: Good or Bad?
April 9, 2013
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. The new Looney Tunes Show: good or bad?
(Clips of the show play. Gioachino Rossini's overture to "The Barber of Seville" serves as the background music)
NC (vo): There's been a lot of variations of the classic Looney Tunes characters over the years, but this latest reincarnation has caused the most controversy.
NC: And...when I say "controversy", I mean geeks complaining about it on message boards. Hell, there's probably people out there that should make videos about it. (chuckles, then thinks)
NC (vo): With that said, this rendition seems to have the most audiences split. The reason mostly centering around the Looney Tunes being domesticated. "They're not loony anymore!", some say, "It's mostly dialogue with not enough slapstick and too many changes made to the Looney Tunes personas". Being a die-hard Looney Tunes fan myself, I felt it only fair to throw in my two cents.
NC: And, in my opinion... I think it's funny. (Beat) Undeniably flawed, but still very funny.
NC (vo): I personally enjoy it because the focus is kept on what made the Looney Tunes hilarious to begin with: the Looney Tunes' personalities.
(A clip from the Looney Tunes cartoon Rabbit Seasoning (1952) is shown)
NC (vo): People forget that a lot of the Looney Tunes cartoons didn't have as much slapstick as you would think. It actually was a lot of talking. Take the most famous examples with Elmer, Bugs and Daffy. Most of it technically is just standing around discussing who the slapstick should happen to. And only once in a while did the slapstick actually happen. This is why many say the Warner Bros. cartoons were more adult humor...
(A clip from the Mickey Mouse cartoon The Pointer (1940) is followed)
NC (vo): ...where Disney cartoons were more childish humor. Theirs definitely had more motion and action...
(Back to Rabbit Seasoning)
NC (vo): ...but focus less on developing the jokes. Keep in mind also that these original cartoons were usually about seven minutes long.
(Back to the new Looney Tunes Show)
NC (vo): TV shows nowadays are at least triple that time. So everything has to be expanded, including the dialogue. And with that said, the slapstick is still there. It just has to be proportionate to the time given or else it will be overused. But that's not the only complaint. Another one is that they're too domesticated. Bugs and Daffy live in Suburbia and focus more on the problems a Seinfeld episode would focus on, rather than a Looney Tunes short.
NC: Well, in many respects, (shrugs) I think Seinfeld is kind of similar to Looney Tunes.
(Clips from Seinfeld play, showing the characters that are similar to the Looney Tunes characters)
NC (vo): Isn't Jerry very similar to Bugs, or George is very similar to Daffy? Hell, even the visual humor and hair-brained schemes of Kramer seem very similar to the Coyote. So I think it's a very welcomed comparison.
(Back to the new show's clips, mostly focusing on a Season 2 episode named You've Got Hate Mail)
NC (vo): And in many respects, Looney Tunes actually has a bigger advantage because it's animated. Therefore, it can go even further with its humor. For example, there's an episode where Lola invites Bugs to be in her family portrait. But when Bugs chips a tooth, she wants to selfishly leave him out, despite Bugs being more determined than ever to now want to be in it, just out of spite. Now that's very Seinfeld. But the fact that they go so far as to have a car chase with a coach and carriage, an explosion and a fall of a cliff, resulting in all of them getting a chipped tooth for the portrait, that's Looney Tunes. So in many respects, it is a similar setup, but they can have even more fun and creativity with their jokes. Because, simply put, there's no boundaries. I guess another reason it works for me is because I believe that, while truly great characters don't change over time, environments do. And if Looney Tunes still wants to speak to both an adult and a kid audience, the characters can stay the same, but it has to evolve with the rest of the world. Changes have to be made. And I think many of us know how most people react to change nowadays.
(Doug Walker is shown on his back without his jacket, tie or hat, waving his arms and legs, acting like a little kid having a temper tantrum)
Doug: (in a Douchey McNitpick voice) I don't want change! I don't want change! Everything has to stay the same!
NC (vo): But as long as the environments create comedic possibilities for their personalities to work off of, I'm all for it. It's true some of the characters have been changed around, but, again, I think it's for the better. Bugs is just as much the everyman now as he was in the past, because the show acknowledges people's weaknesses of modern day and their clever solutions of modern day. But having him more fragile and actually able to lose, it makes him more identifiable, as well as much more appreciative when he actually does win. If he always won, it would become boring.
(The footage from the cartoons Tortoise Beats Hare (1941) and Rabbit Seasoning is shown)
NC (voice): Even the original cartoons had to mix it up once in a while. And Bugs always had to show some weakness as he had to get into a predicament that he had to get out of.
(Back to The Looney Tunes Show)
NC (vo): Thus, we're all the more interested in how he'll use his cool and wit to deal with the situation when we know it could just as easily backfire. Daffy is still just as selfish and diabolical as ever, Porky still seems to be the optimistic pawn in everybody's plan, and then we have Lola.
NC: Oh, Jesus, sweet hippity-hoppity-Christ, thank you for Lola!
NC (vo): This has literally gone from one of my most despised Looney Tunes characters into one of my favorites. That's Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids fame doing the voice, and they transformed her from a...
(Clips of Lola from Space Jam play)
NC (vo): ...bland, sexualized token chick...
(Back to the show)
NC (vo): ...into a crazy, absent-minded, often unfocused goofball, living only in the bubbly madness of her mind. And I know some of you are thinking, (back to Space Jam) "Oh, but that's not the original Lola character!"
NC: 'Cause, oh, yeah, there was a ton to work with! Like...bunny boobies...the fact that she didn't like to be called "doll". (pause, then pretends to type a script on a typewriter) Don't need more than that!
(More Space Jam clips are shown)
NC (vo): Yeah, her looniness, if any, came from how other people reacted to the character, not from the character herself. It was them going "Ooh, she's sexualized!" And that's it.
(Back to the show)
NC (vo): This is an actual personality that can work off of the other personalities in the show. Granted, she still has the bunny boobies, which is a little weird, but once the character's created with them, yeah, I guess it would send the pervs into overtime if they just had her walk around with no clothes like the others.
(A message in yellow letters pops up saying "If you still have a soul, please don't jerk-off that thought")
NC (vo): They also do well at balancing out other characters so that they can still seem likable. Half of what Daffy gets away with is helped by the fact that he has a no-nonsense girlfriend named Tina who constantly keeps him in check. She's not as goofy as the other characters, but she still has a definite personality and is meant to be grounded similar to how a character like Porky is. But, now with that said, there are some changes that, inevitably, I'm not going to agree with, either. Like making the Tasmanian Devil their dog is kind of lame, especially when I think there actually could be some real comedic possibilities from him. Witch Hazel being a sassy black woman is really odd.
NC: Come on, she was fine the way she was.
(Cut to a clip of Looney Tunes short Broom-Stick Bunny (1956), showing Witch Hazel laughing crazily)
NC (vo): And those little music videos in-between, while funny sometimes, can get a little too repetitive. I'm glad they only do them now when they feel like it and don't force themselves to do one every episode.
NC: But let's get down to the final major complaint: when the jokes just aren't funny. (pause) Yeah, that can be a major problem.
NC (vo): Now, as I said before, I think most of the jokes in the show work, but when they die, man, they really fucking die. Like they have a lot of good writers working in it, and then, like, maybe one jackass who just keeps throwing in terrible jokes. There's also some times where the stories are so ingeniously tied together, but then, they never add up to a strong payoff. There's an episode, for example, dealing with father figures. Three separate stories are going on that actually all come together in the very end. And it hilariously just keeps building and building, you think it's gonna work its way up to a big climax. But instead, it's just sort of a weak bit of slapstick, and that's it.
NC: So, in a sense, when people say they don't like the show, I know where they're coming from.
NC (vo): There are times when the show really loses focus. It's really tough to stomach and I'm not gonna pretend like it's not. But when it hits bullseyes, I truly feel it captures the spirit of the Looney Tunes almost as much as the original. Because it puts the same recognizable characters in brand-new scenarios that makes way for brand-new possibilities. And that's what the Looney Tunes always were to me. And the reason I get so confused about some fans shouting sell-out is that (Clips from the intros of Space Jam, Duck Dodgers and Baby Looney Tunes are followed) they never seem to get angry at the past obvious sell-outs.
NC: So, let me get this straight, guys.
(Clip from Space Jam is shown, showing Monstar Pound losing his pants then covers his bottom with his jersey while blushing)
SJ Lola: Nice butt!
(The audience laughs)
NC: (simpleton voice) Ho-ho! Ho-ho! That's funny!
(A clip from Duck Dodgers plays)
DD Daffy: (singing) Three little maids from school are we, pert as school-girl well can be.
NC: (slapping the table laughing) Ho-ho! Ho-ho! That's funny!
(A clip from Baby Looney Tunes plays)
NC: (slapping and laughing harder) Ho-ho! Ho-ho! That's funny!
(Clips from the new show play, including some clips from the music videos and Daffy causing trouble)
Lola: (over Bugs' cell phone) That time I did hit an oil truck. Bye! (hangs up)
(Another music video clip, from Daffy Duck The Wizard)
Lola: (to Porky) We'll get through this. I know, I've been there. But I'm not there anymore! Whoo-hoo!
Daffy: See what happens when you people don't let me read your mail?!
NC: (in a raspy voice) The Looney Tunes are dead. I'm sorry, Warner Bros, you flew too close to the sun.
(Clips from other versions are shown)
NC (vo): Some renditions I didn't include because they got the proper response they deserved. Loonatics Unleashed was despised and Back in Action got overwhelming reactions of...
(The short clip from The Simpsons is shown)
Lisa Simpson: Eh.
(Back to the show)
NC (vo): But people still seem split about the new animated series. Die-hard split. If you don't like it because you feel there aren't enough funny jokes and sometimes it goes a little too far or not far enough, I understand and completely sympathize with your judgment. But if you're just gonna hate it because something is different, I kindly ask that you go to that corner of the Internet that remembers your utopian time period that never existed.
NC: And if you're like me where you see both the good and the bad with the show, allow me to point out the top 10 best episodes so you can avoid the duds.
(The countdown begins, and "Annen-Polka" by Johann Strauss Jr. is the BGM. The words "10. Father Figures" are shown in gold and with a "ding" sound effect)
NC (vo): Father Figures. Lola's father wants to connect to the closest thing to a son he's ever had. It's funny, clever and even touching at times, even if its ending is underwhelming.
("9. To Bowl or Not to Bowl" pops up)
NC (vo): To Bowl or Not to Bowl. Daffy joins a bowling team, but has to be told that he's the only bad player... in the middle of a big tournament. This ending will have you laughing for hours.
("8. Eligible Bachelors" pops up)
NC (vo): Eligible Bachelors. Bugs and Lola take a tour to France while Granny gets a tour de force, with a story about how she was a kickass spy in WWII. That's actually kind of gripping at times.
("7. The Float" pops up)
NC (vo): The Float. This might be Daffy at his cruelest, and it's fascinating to see just how despicable we can take this character before we want to kill him. Some might see it as going too far, but I think it's pretty damn funny.
("6. Members Only" pops up)
NC (vo): Members Only. The first appearance of Lola, and it's the perfect introduction. Again, has sort of a weak ending, but it's still a Lola-centered episode and, to me, those rarely fail.
("5. Double Date" pops up)
NC (vo): Double Date. Daffy wants to impress his new girlfriend, Tina, so he asks Lola for advice, not realizing Lola falls for her own techniques and becomes obsessed with Daffy herself. Another great stalker episode from our favorite crazy.
("4. You've Got Hate Mail" pops up)
NC (voice): You've Got Hate Mail. Daffy learns from Tina that he can let off steam by writing an angry email and then deleting it. So Daffy writes an angry email to everybody he knows, but accidentally sends it out. The reactions are mostly what you think. This one has lots of laughs, a surprisingly warm ending and maybe the funniest design of Yosemite Sam you'll ever see. I won't ruin it for you here, but it's worth checking out.
("3. Rebel Without a Glove" pops up)
NC (voice): Rebel Without a Glove. Bugs loses his trademark gloves so he wears a pair of biker gloves instead, altering his entire personality, as well as scaring the crap out of the people around him. This is not only as funny as it sounds, but we also get some fascinating insight into Daffy's psyche. For example, what is the story with that white thing on his neck? Again, I won't give away the answer.
("2. The DMV" pops up)
NC (vo): The DMV. What can I say? They do every hilarious joke you could do with these characters being at the most miserable place on earth. The comedy writes itself, and most of them hit head-on.
("1. Customer Service" pops up)
NC (vo): And my personal favorite episode is one called Customer Service. This one plays into our fear that a customer service agent, played by a devilishly evil Cecil Turtle, are actually sadists who love to torture their clients by putting them on hold or somehow creating more problems. It's a return to form for Bugs as he dons disguises and plans diabolical schemes all in the name of sweet revenge. The jokes are funny, the setup is great, the subplot's entertaining, they all tie together, and it's a perfect mix of The Looney Tunes combined with modern day problems. But what the hell do I know? Check out the show and see for yourself. Check it out, pick a side, and see what you've been missing or...glad you've been missing.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.
(He gets up and leaves. The credits roll)