The Pac is Back

Back in June, we gave you a brief preview of Disney Close-Eyed Grin (XD)’s Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a new Japanese/Canadian/American computer-animated television series in production by 41 Entertainment based on Namco Bandai Games’ Pac-Man video game franchise. At the time, the series hadn’t premiered yet, but now that it’s made its’ debut (the series proper premiered on June 15th) and several episodes have aired, I can now give Ghostly Adventures a full review.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

The premise isn’t anything you haven’t heard before: Pac-Man saves his native soil of Pac-World (as opposed to the Pac-Land of the 1982 Hanna-Barbera animated series) from ghosts. But the way it’s presented is new and different. This isn’t the Pac-Man of your older sibling who’s stuck in the 1980’s (“Skinny ties are coming back, man! Just wait and see! And man, Alien was a cool movie!”) Visually, Ghostly Adventures is a real treat: the show, which is presented in stereoscopic 3D, is one of the best looking CGI shows I’ve seen on TV. It takes us inside a beautiful, futuristic, high-tech Pac-World full of spherical and ovular buildings and spherical and ovular Pac-People, chock full of sci-fi tech such as hover-boards and other way-out gadgets, very bright, colorful and fun. The show’s cast is also quite colorful, but literally and figuratively:

The Heroes:

Pac-Man himself (or just “Pac”, to give his more familiar name; the “Man” part is just a title bestowed upon him after saving Pac-World for the first time) is here portrayed as a happy-go-lucky, likable, energetic, well-meaning, sincere and good-natured (if a tad naive) teenager with a voracious appetite. On this show his yellow color scheme isn’t just for show, it actually ties into the premise: on this show Pac-Denizens come in a wide ranges of colors, as opposed to most of the previous media, where most of the Pac-People were yellow by default; the yellow Pac-Worlders are legendary heroes and the sworn protectors of Pac-World, as they’re the only Pac-People capable of eating ghosts. As such, Pac-World’s greatest threat has systematically hunted down and eliminated nearly all of the Yellows down to near-extinction, leaving Pac as seemingly the only yellow Pac-Worlder left alive (though other yellow Pac-Worlders are sometimes seen in the background, or maybe they’re supposed to be gold?). Not only is Pac the only one capable of devouring ghosts and spitting out their eyeballs, but he also receives unique powers and abilities by eating the magical Power Berries from the Tree of Life (this shows equivalent to the Power Pellets and the Power Forest), enabling such wacky-but-useful transformations and abilities as growing to giant size, bouncing around like a Super Ball, a fire form, an ice form, a titanium form with a magnetic tongue for attracting ghosties, a chameleon form with a long-stretching tongue (no, he doesn’t hock Geico insurance!) and more.
“Oh, sure. A short, round dude who gets crazy powers by eating stuff. Never seen that before! Real [bleep]ing original!”
Cylindria (or Cylli for short) is one of Pac’s best friends and partners in crime on this show. She’s a lavender Pac-Girl with streaked purple-black hair, red-framed glasses, fingerless gloves, striped socks and black Goth boots. Cylli is basically the Hermoine Granger of the show, but thankfully she’s not overbearing with it. (Is it wrong to find a lavender ball somewhat adorkably hot? I’m asking for a friend.)
Sprial is Pac’s other best friend. With his large ovoid body, tuft of curly blue hair atop his head and bright red coloring, he resembles a living radish. While he may look weird, he’s a true and loyal friend to “the Pacster”, as he calls him. Spiral’s always got Pac’s back and is full of “cool” best bud phrases which he’ll spout at the drop of a hat.
President Stratos Spheros is the green colored President of Pac-World and the one who typically sends the Pac team out on its’ mission. He’s usually flanked by his semi-competent guards, who are all blue in color and wear sunglasses (The Men in Blue, perhaps?)
Sir Cumference (get it?) is Pac-World’s resident nutty inventor, also green, BTW, who builds and designs the team’s ghost-busting gadgets. He also fought in Pac-World War 1.
Spheria Suprema is a brave and sassy orange colored Pac Lady with a Southern accent. She’s another former PWW1 freedom fighter and is currently Pac-World’s reigning Pac-Pong champ. Spheria also happens to be Pac’s aunt, who is raising him now that his parents have been killed. (Awwwww.)
The Villains:
Commander/Lord Betrayus is the show’s main antagonist. He’s the absolute dictator of the Netherworld, similar to the character of Spooky from Pac-Man World 2. Once he was a Pac-Worlder, a dissident who attempted to take over the planet with an army of traitors, monsters and ghosts, launching Pac World War 1. (One thing I like about this series is that it actually gives its’ villain a back story which actually ties into his having once been one of them, as opposed to the HB show which just plonked a human would-be Gargamel onto the show with no explanation of who he was, where he came from, what his motivations were and how he came to be there). He was also the one responsible for the near-extinction of the Yellow Pac-Worlders. Upon his defeat, Betrayus and his followers were all stripped of the corporeal forms and banished to the Netherworld as ghosts, but after the portal sealing them all away was accidentally breached (by Pac, as it happens) Betrayus now hatches scheme after scheme to defeat Pac-Man and take over once and for all. He typically employs monsters, specters and gadgets, all of which fail week after week Rita Repulsa style. When Betrayus rages out (which is often) he emits fire. Betrayus has an ego the size of a mountain and is more than just a little nuts; as such his minions aren’t so much loyal to him as they’re too afraid of the wack-a-doodle to act any other way towards him. (Incidentally, Betrayus, both in corporeal and ghostly form, is white. As yet we haven’t seen any other white Pac-Worlders; perhaps Betrayus is a mutant, or maybe he just spent zero time in the sun.) Lord B. is also President Spheros’ brother.
Buttler is Betrayus’ hapless purple-gray colored personal servant. When he had a body he was a corporal in PWW1, who was secretly leaking secrets to Betrayus. After being discovered, which led to the defeat of Betrayus’ army, Betrayus blames him and now forces Buttler to serve him for all eternity. It’s fitting that he has a head shaped like a pair of buttocks, since he’s the frequent butt of jokes and target of abuse.
Dr. Buttocks is the Netherworld’s resident mad scientist, who creates the inventions Betrayus employs in his attempts for revenge. He resembles Buttler, only blue-gray in color instead of Buttler’s  purple-gray and with a mad scientist-required German accent. There’s a reason for their resemblance: they’re twin brothers, though they don’t get along: the Doc considers Buttler to be a lowly servant (which he is) while Buttler considers Buttocks to be a long-winded egomaniac (which he is). Buttocks’ ego is just as big as Betrayus’ and the 2 clash almost immediately.
Somewhere between the good guys and the bad guys are The Ghost Gang, the 4 ghosts from the games. Whereas before they were clear-cut villains, here they work as double-agents, leaking secrets, plans and advice to the good guys in order to fulfill their own personal agenda: they hope to get their bodies back. The Ghosts are even less loyal to Betrayus than the other spooks, though they’re not actually evil, just mischievous pranksters.
Blinky, the red ghost, acts as leader of the Ghost Gang (as opposed to the HB show, where he was a quaking coward in a farmer’s hat). Blinky speaks in a slanted, street-wise tough-guy brouque and helps the good guys when it suits his own purposes, though he’s quick to abandon the crusade to keep his ectoplasmic fat out of the fire.
Pinky, the pink ghost (duh!) is the only female member of the gang. (The HB cartoon was one of the few media where Pinky was portrayed as a male.) She has the same sass level as her brothers, but with a feminine charm. Pinky’s other defining trait is that she has a HUGE crush on Pac, and her desire for him often leads her to stick her (lack of) neck out further for the heroes than the others. As a side-effect, Pinky harbors an almost Pavlovian disdain for Cylindria.
Inky, the blue ghost, is a tad scatter-brained and a little spastic, but nowhere near the googly-eyed, tongue-wagging imbecile that he was in the HB show. Inky shares Blinky’s tough-guy mode of speech and desire to keep his rear covered over helping the good guys. In fact, Inky and Blinky are so much alike that they occasionally butt heads.
Clyde, the orange ghost, is a jumbo-sized gentle giant sized spook who, true to his game character, typically takes up the rear. Despite his slowness and somewhat vacant sounding voice, he is actually the most insightful member of the gang and is the most helpful. Clyde is also a pacifist, preferring to sit back and muse rather than scare people and pull pranks; Clyde’s gentleness and caring demeanor often annoys Blinky and Inky, but luckily Clyde is so huge that he can knock their heads together, literally.
Now, on to the gripes. Are there gripes? Really, the only gripe I have with the show is very minor: the recurring character of Skeebo, a blue-colored jock jerk in Pac’s class who insults and torments Pac for fun and who falls into the trope of Jerk Character Who Lives to Antagonize the Hero Even Though He Has No Reason to Actually Hate Him. He’s such an unneeded element to the show, especially since he has no clear cut motivations; we have no idea why Skeebo gets such a boner from hating on Pac, he just does. But thankfully, his machinations end up with him looking like a fool every time, so he hardly qualifies as a threat.
My overall rating: B. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures won’t change your life, but it’s a fun way to kill a half-hour. The show managed to make me feel sympathy for a little yellow ball who’s lost his parents in a genocidal spree and now has the weight of his entire world hoisted onto his nonexistent shoulders. The show deserves credit for that alone.

The Aquabats Supershow – Super Wacky!

Most fans of the Hasbro owned cable/satellite channel known as The Hub know the channel as “That Transformers/G.I. Joe” Channel” or “The channel that My Little Pony Built”. Some others know The Hub as the channel that airs Dan Vs. However, there is one show that currently airs on The Hub which doesn’t get as much press as those shows aforementioned, and one that I feel is deserving of more praise than it receives. That series is a live action campy hoot known as The Aquabats Supershow!

The Aquabats Supershow! premiered on The Hub on March 3, 2012 and was created by former child actor Christian Jacobs ad Bob Schultz (both of whom are also the creators of the Nick Jr. series Yo, Gabba-Gabba!) but it’s worth mentioning that The Aquabats (the band)’s history preceded the TV series. In fact, The Aquabats have been around for a little while now. Here’s a brief history on The Aquabats:

The Aquabats is an American rock band that was formed in Orange County, California in 1994. The band was founded by Jacobs, Chad Larson and Boyd Terry. The 3 friends got the idea to form a joke band that satirized the Orange County punk scene. The idea was to start an unabashedly silly band boasting a happy, positive persona — an antithesis to aggressive and humorless punk bands — with the intention of performing at punk shows to poke fun at the scene. Easily identified by their Lone Ranger masks, Positivity Helmets and matching costumes, The Aquabats are perhaps most recognized for their theatrical persona in which they claim to be crime-fighting superheroes. This theme serves as subject for much of the band’s music and as part of their stage shows, which regularly feature comedic stunts and fight scenes with costumed villains and creatures. The band has gone through several fluctuations and also several members with Jacobs and Larson being the only constants.

Since their debut in 1996, The Aquabats have released five studio albums, two extended plays and one compilation, among other recordings.

The TV series began as a 5 minute pilot called The Aquabats in Color! which was originally pitched to The Fox Family Channel in 1994, but the project was canceled.
Now, back to the present.
Each 22 minute episode of The Aquabats Super Show! is done in a style similar to The Looney Tunes Show, consisting of 1 half-hour story featuring the live action Aquabats doing comedic battle with some formidable, but ridiculous nemesis, intermixed with a funny cartoon blackout starring Li’l Bat, the Aquabats’ mascot, an animated segment (creatively titled “A CARTOON”) via a random miniature TV set that appears in some incongruous location featuring animated versions of The Aquabats (ironically, the cartoon segments follow a continuing story format, while the live action are always a self contained story), and a commercial parody. The latter of which are a staple of the Aquabats’ stage shows.
The series itself is based on the band’s mythology. The Aquabats are a team of costumed superheroes of unknown origin (Jacobs has stated in an interview that the team’s origin is intentionally left vague for the audience’s imagination) who simultaneously perform rock concerts while battling the forces of evil and boredom while traveling around in their souped-up “Battle Tram”, which is much roomier on the inside than it looks on the outside, sporting it’s own lounge, sleeping quarters and science lab. The band/team members all wear matching uniforms, and in the manner of The Tick, are never shown out of costume. Some viewers have speculated that this would make it difficult to tell the individual members apart, but when you start watching the episodes, it surprisingly isn’t. The band’s members consist of:
  • The MC Bat Commander (played by the band’s lead singer, Christian Jacobs, distinguishable by his Zorro-like mustache and his missing front tooth):  He’s the leader of The Aquabats and a self-described “Man of Action”. He’s got the swagger. He’s got the bravado, but interestingly, he’s the only member of the team without a super power. 
  •  Crash McLarson (played by bassist Chad Larson, distinguishable by his being the tallest Aquabat and his bushy eyebrows): Basically a big birdbrained lug who has the ability to grow to 50 feet in size. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet mastered this ability and so he usually only gets this power to work when he’s extremely mad and/or upset (“GETTING EMOTIONAL!!”). Interestingly, Crash’s animated self seems to be in complete control of his size altering ability.
  • Ricky Fitness (played by drummer Richard Falomir, distinguishable by his trim physique and the braces on his teeth): A reformed juvenile delinquent who’s now all about clean living and fitness. He has the power of super speed. He’s also the band’s “ladies’ man” of sorts, falling for nearly ever attractive young woman he sees.
  • Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk: (played by guitarist Ian Fowles, distinguishable by his long brown hair): The band’s iconiclast and strident individualist who’s full of personal pride to the point of cockiness at times. He possesses a magic guitar which he can fire lasers from. He was also granted a mystical “second sight” from a floating shaman head, giving him the ability to see fairies and other apparitions, as well as the ability to summon an invisible spirit animal, a female eagle known as “The Dude”. But since no one else can see her, his teammates just think that he’s bonkers.
  • Jimmy the Robot (played by keyboardist James R. Biggs Jr., distinguishable by his metal chin plate and his metal hands): Jimmy is an android who was created by The Aquabats (most likely) and is easily the smartest member of the team. He has a computer brain and the ability to fire purple lasers from his fingertips. He’s also the team’s science and technology expert. Ironically, despite his being artificial, seems to possess the most human vulnerability of the team, emotion-wise.

This series mostly reminds me of the old Batman live action series which ran from 1966 to 1968 starring Adam West and Burt Ward, which I didn’t see when it originally aired because I didn’t exist back then (I watched the show 2nd hand in syndication). It’s pure camp and goofiness. Much of what happens on the show is unexplained and is just plain silly, but it works. It’s like a living cartoon. In fact, The Aquabats Supershow is what Warner Brothers’ feeble attempt at a Looney Tunes cape show Loonatics Unleashed should have been; a silly superhero spoof which doesn’t take itself seriously at all.  Any series that can boast not 1, but 2 guest appearances by “Weird Al” Yankovic (one as the U.S. President and the other as a Superman/Shazam knock-off named”Super Magic Power Man”) is OK in my book. Christian Jacobs has apparently wanted to make a series like this for some time now, so I guess that he’s basically living the dream. It’s also worth mentioning that The Hub has ordered a 2nd season of The Aquabats Super Show, which is slated to run this Spring. All I can say is “More power to you!”, guys.


Pets Over Ponies (You Heard Me Right)

Brace yourselves, Bronies, I have an announcement that may just shake the very foundation of the world you live on. Here it is:

I think there’s another show on The Hub that I like more than My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

T’is true.
Of course, anybody who regularly follows this blog or my posts on either if the 2 message boards I’m currently on already knows that MLP: FiM wasn’t my favorite Hub show to start with–The Aquabats! Super Show! currently holds that title (it’s supposed to be starting its’ 2nd season sometime this spring–can’t wait!) and I also enjoy Dan VS. to a point, though I think it tends to get a little Pinky & The Brain repetitive and the characters aren’t especially likable (and don’t get me started on the horrible scheduling). The Ponies’ show used to be a close third, but recently another show has risen to challenge MLP for its’ bronze medal. The show in question? Littlest Pet Shop.
First, a brief history lesson (a.k.a., the boring stuff you need to know):
Hasbro manages the intellectual properties of both Blythe (a fashion doll originally released in 1972) and the Littlest Pet Shop toy line (introduced in 1992). Originally held by Kenner Products, both were transferred to Hasbro, years after acquiring most of Kenner’s assets.
As of November 2012, two modern incarnations of Blythe are on sale: One, introduced in 2001 as a standalone toy line, is managed by Tomy (after merging with the original licensee Takara in 2006) and CWC (both companies licensed from Hasbro), sold in parts of Asia, and marketed towards collectors. The other, marketed towards children that was released in 2010, is managed by Hasbro as a part of their 2004 incarnation of Littlest Pet Shop, known as Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop.
The series was first green-lit in 2011. During production, Blythe Loves the Littlest Pet Shop was also used by Hasbro as the working title of the TV series. The production staff of the series includes developers Timothy Cahill and Julie McNally Cahill of My Gym Partner’s a Monkey fame, along with Dallas Parker and Joel Dickie. Writers M. A. Larson and Cindy Morrow, who previously wrote episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, also wrote the scripts for the episodes of this series. The songs and music of the entire series were composed by Daniel Ingram and Steffan Andrews.
-OK, with that out of the way, here’s an overview of the show.
Blythe Baxter is a teen/tweenage (her exact age has yet to be revealed, but I presume she’s somewhere around 12 to 14) aspiring fashion designer (you can tell she’s a little fashionista because she sports a different hairstyle and outfit in each show, she is a fashion doll, after all) who’s cheerful, loyal, always tries her best, is cute, sweet and always willing to help others, though she’s a little mishap and comical misadventure-prone. Blythe and her requisite oblivious and embarrassing goofball father, airline pilot Roger Baxter (Blythe’s mother is MIA, but more on that later) move from their home in the suburbs to an apartment in Downtown City, a fictionalized version of New York City, only much cozier and without the crime, poverty, graffiti, gang violence and urban blight. Said apartment just happens to be located above a small pet shop, called appropriately enough, Littlest Pet Shop, a day camp for pets of all kinds. After hitting her head after riding down a dumbwaiter in one of those aforementioned wacky escapades, Blythe discovers she has somehow broken the communication barrier between man and animal, meaning that she can now communicate with animals and when the pets talk to her, it comes out as perfectly understandable English instead of unintelligible critter-speak which is how it sounds to everyone else. Blythe gets a part-time job working in the shop and assisting the shop’s owner, the delightfully dotty Mrs.Twombly. This newly forged alliance leads to all sorts of crazy fun. The pets themselves are a unique and colorful (as in not always typically found in nature) bunch; each one has their own quirk, talent, passion or obsession that he/she specializes in:
  • Zoe Trent is a purple Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (of course she’s no mere dog) whose passions are singing and looking fabulous. She’s a full-tilt diva (she even wears a hat).
  • Vinnie Terrio is a deep-voiced and somewhat thick Northland Green Gecko whose passion is dancing. He’s got some moves, though his routines often end with him flat on his face. (Give yourself a gold star if you noticed how Vinnie shares a surname with 70’s Dance Fever host Denny Terrio, the man who supposedly taught John Travolta how to dance.
  • Penny Ling is a small, super-cute, somewhat shy and very girly female white and purple Giant Panda who is a rhythmic gymnast. She is talented with twirling ribbons but is hyper-sensitive, falling to pieces so fast that onlookers risk getting hit by the shrapnel.
  • Minka Mark is a hyper and somewhat spazzy pink Spider Monkey talented in abstract art, which mainly involves splattering paint all over the canvas (hey, it worked for Jackson Pollock). She’s easily distracted by shiny objects, food and pretty much anything else.
  • Pepper Clark is a fast talking and shtick loving grey-and-white skunk whose passion is comedy, largely of the custard pie and floppy shoe variety. She also has the unique ability to alter her scents from pleasant to repugnant, depending on what the situation calls for and/or how funny it is.
  • Sunil Nevla is a timid and neurotic Indian accented teal-blue colored banded mongoose whose aspirations are parlor magic and psychic abilities, which he practices with more enthusiasm than polish. (He reminds me a bit of Raj from The Big Bang Theory, only Sunil’s able to talk to girls).
  • Russel Ferguson is an intelligent and organized orange-brown hedgehog (no, he’s not the fastest thing alive!) who’s the brains of the group. He’s a little uptight and overly meticulous, but lets loose once in a while.
In addition to her adventures with the Pets, Blythe also has her own stories revolving around her trio of friends from her new school: Sue Patterson, the jock, Youngmee Song, the brain, and Jasper Jones, the boy. She also has to contend with the requisite snooty rivals, twin sisters Whitney and Britney Biskit, your garden variety rich shallow preps obsessed with fashion and who punctuate their sentences with “like”s, whose dad own the city’s rival pet store, Largest Ever Pet Shop. The Biskits are easily the most cliched and tiresome characters on the show, but thankfully, they don’t appear every week.
Each episode typically consists of an A plot and a B plot running simultaneously, and the 2 plots occasionally intersect. The designs on both the pet and human characters alike are big on cute, with all of the characters sporting huge eyeballs and large heads, and the show is also peppered with pop songs.
OK, I know what you’re thinking: you like THIS more than the Ponies? Well, I have to say yes, I do. Why? For one thing, LPS actually has people in it. I know that’s superficial, but I tend to gravitate more towards shows with human protagonists and all or mostly human casts. On that note, another reason I like LPS is because the animals act like and are treated like, well, animals. The Pets talk (to Blythe, anyway) and occasionally walk like humans, but for the most part they remain close to the real animals they supposedly represent. The Pets occasionally don scraps of clothing and the like, but the anthropomorphism is never carried to the creepy extremes like it is on shows like Arthur. This works for someone like me, who’s not a huge fan of anthropomorphism, at least not when it’s overdone. Another reason why I favor  LPS is because it has no pretense or delusions of grandeur; it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is: a cute little toyetic comedy cartoon. It never tries to do anything grand or epic like MLP frequently does, particularly at the beginning and ending of each season. There are no magic kingdoms on LPS, but there’s plenty of slapstick to be had. For anyone who wonders or wants there to be some deep analysis behind Blythe’s newfound power or some major ramifications thereof, I would refer you to the last verse of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song: “Just repeat to yourself ‘It’s just a show, I should really just relax’.”
While most of the characters on LPS are appealing and the stories cute and entertaining (and Mrs. Twombly gives the performance of a lifetime), it’s not all gravy. I do have some gripes with the show. For one thing, the Pets flit around the screen so rapidly that it’s hard to keep track of them all at times, though this is becoming less of a problem as episodes progress. Also, I’d like to see Blythe’s friends do a little more; as things stand currently they’re little more than props for the most part. And it’s clear to me that the writers don’t really know what to do with the Biskit Twins. Aside from how their characters generally don’t make any sense (they’re more super-rich kids who slum it with the ‘regulars’ in public school for no logical reason), they don’t work as antagonists for the simple reason that they have no reason to antagonize Blythe other than they’ve been designated as the show’s villains. Yeah, their dad owns the rival shop, but this is barely touched upon in the show and since the Twins don’t give a wet slap about work anyway, it makes no difference. Since they’re ineffective as baddies and it’s clear that the writers don’t want them to be buds with Blythe and company, they just have these characters around but really don’t know what do with them. I know it’ll never happen, but I’d like to see them transfer to a private school or otherwise pull a Houdini at the end of the season.
But by far my biggest complaint about the show concerns Blythe’s mother, namely she has none. Is she alive? Is she dead? Divorced? Where is she? There’s absolutely no reason for Blythe’s mom to be a no-show. While I hate that they also employ the Missing Mom trope on Transformers Rescue Bots, I at least understand why they do it on that show: because it’s aimed primarily at young boys, and few boys would willing buy a Transformers toy piloted by a mom; they probably only have girls on TRB because they’d get in trouble with feminist groups if they didn’t. (It’s also worth mentioning that Cody’s friend Frankie on the show doesn’t have a mother either. So what’s your beef with moms anyway, Hub, you mother-hating pricks?!)
But those little nitpicks aside, I can still enjoy Littlest Pet Shop. It is my hope that the show will thrive, find its’ own audience and finally break out of My Little Pony‘s shadow. Just let it do what it does, and wash over you like a warm mist. It won’t change your life, but it’ll keep you entertained for a half-hour.

The Looney Tunes Show So Far: What Works, What Doesn’t

No, this isn’t the series review. We’ve covered that back in May. Rather, this is more of an analysis of what we’ve seen of Cartoon Network’s new animated series for the Looney Tunes franchise The Looney Tunes Show so far. Since as of this writing, TLTS will taking a short hiatus for next month or so and we’ve reached a midpoint of sorts, I’d thought that we’d take a look at what elements of this new take on LT/MM franchise are good and which elements aren’t working out so well. Before we begin, let me just state first and foremost to those who haven’t seen it yet that The Looney Tunes Show is not a reiteration of the classic theatrical shorts, nor is it intedned to be. Those who are complaining that TLTS isn’t the shorts should simply watch the shorts. I would suggest buying either the Looney Tunes Spotlight or the Golden Collections DVD sets. I should also point out that the latter collection costs a little more. having said that, let’s break it down now, shall we?

1. The Half Hour Episodes
I don’t personally have a problem with the main half hour episodes, provided that the stories of which actually lend themselves to being half an hour. Some of the episodes’ main plots seem to be 10 minute plots unnecessarily stretched out to 22 minutes. The series’ premiere episode “Best Friends” in particular seemed to go on forever, despite having a few good lines and gags. I don’t see why the TLTS can’t have some two 10 minute shorts, or even the occasional three 7 minute shorts as opposed to always being a single 22 minute plot. Some fans have complained about every main plot revolving around Bugs and Daffy, but I personally don’t have a problem with this, since the less celebrated Looney Tunes characters have other chances to shine in other parts of the show (which I’ll elaborate on later). However, this brings me to a sub-point within this point:

1.5 The Bugs & Daffy Dynamic
By now, most of us are well familiar with the whole “Bugs is a winner, Daffy is a loser” formula which has been in effect ever since Friz Freleng’s “Show Biz Bugs”, and this new series only continues with this formula. Here, Bugs is a successful entrepreneur (the inventor of the carrot peeler, as well as being a former star athlete, the President of Spain and Batman!) who’s living comfortably in a house in the suburbs, while Daffy is unemployed and unemployable (“No job, no education and a credit rating of negative 13!”), has apparently fallen on hard times before the 1st episode and is currently Bugs’ permanent house guest. Now, far be it from me to wish for the shows’ producers Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone to interfere with this familiar dynamic, but I feel that the way that Daffy and Bugs’ characters are portrayed leaves room for improvement. Daffy is supposed to be a lunatic, but on TLTS, he often comes off as being merely oblivious and stupid. Bugs, meanwhile, often comes off as being too calm and too perfect to be very interesting on his own. The Rabbit’s main purpose on TLTS is to react to the eccentric characters around him (although Bugs was great in the episode “Jailbird and Jailbunny”, one of the best episodes in the series thus far). Now I’m not suggesting that TLTS have villains, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some character(s) impose their will on Bugs from time to time, so that Bugs can then get his comic revenge on said antagonist(s). As Chuck Jones once noted, it gives Bugs a reason to act. I’d like to see more of the “rascally” Bugs in future episodes. Also, I know that is somewhat radical thinking, but just once, I’d like to see a Bugs VS Daffy competition where Daffy comes out on top, just to say that it happened. Plus, it might actually help Bugs’ character and make him seem more relateable if he lost once in a while.

2. The Setting
I’ve heard from some fans who flat out hate the fact TLTS has the entire cast (save for the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote) living in an all American suburb, as they feel that this fixed setting is too restrictive. Now myself, I don’t think that the suburban setting is the problem here. My problem with the setting isn’t that it’s the suburbs, but that the series takes place in the real world, not in Toontown, Acme Acres or some other separate cartoon world. On TLTS, there are no falling anvils, exploding bombs, characters getting flattened like pancakes, being mashed into accordians, inflated like helium balloons and then being perfectly fine again in the very next scene. The only episode (so far) in which we’ve seen this was the episode “Casa De Calma”, which was itself a leftover episode from Laff Riot, the shows’ original sketch comedy show format before it was changed to the sitcom format that we have now. I didn’t mind Granny having a World War 2 back story in the episode “Eligible Bachelors”, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had actually been, you know…funny! The flashback scenes were played almost completely straight, except for the bird parts. Why?? LT has done humorous takes on the war during the war, so why can’t they do the same thing decades after the war? Just because TLTS has a sitcom format doesn’t that the shows’ humor must be 90% verbal and only 10% visual. TLTS needs more “tooniness”. Also, where are the celebrity caricatures and pop-culture jokes/references that Looney Tunes has always been known for? I’m not suggesting that the producers make the shows’ humor overly topical, which would result in the series becoming extremely dated in 3-5 years, but the original shorts, as well as the Silver Age WB/Amblin animated series all employed this particular technique, so there’s no reason why this formula can’t or shouldn’t employed here on TLTS.

3. The Intermissions
Of course, I’m referring to the Merrie Melodies and Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote segments. These I actually don’t have a problem with. They’re usually a welcome part of the show and needed break from the half hour plots. The Merrie Melodies typically spotlight on Looney Tunes characters who otherwise only get supporting roles in the main story lines (The Goofy Gophers, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Tweety and Sylvester, Henery Hawk, Marvin the Martian, etc.) I enjoy the Merrie Melodies segments and can’t think of any way to improve on them. Same deal with the Road Runner shorts. Most of them remain quite faithful to Chuck Jones’ original vision for the shorts, except for “Slient But Deadly” which actually violates 2 of CJ’s disciplines for the RR shorts: The Road Runner never leaves the road and the Coyote is never injured by the Road Runner. I don’t know why the RR shorts are done in CGI, but it’s good CGI, so I have no complaints about the animation.

4. The Nitpicks
Just a few minor points that I’d like to mention here: Some fans have complained about TLTS’s depiction of Lola Bunny, saying that they’d prefer to see Lola be more like the way she was in the movie Space Jam. To this I must ask “Why?” What was so great about the old Lola? Space Jam’s Lola existed to be nothing more than a Mary Sue and a furry fetishist’s wet dream. I’m personally OK with Lola being crazy, since she’s supposed to be a Looney Tunes character. My only complaint about Lola is that TLTS’s producers made Lola’s entire character be just about her stalking Bugs, and so Lola can never appear in a story or scene/sequence without Bugs. This goes back to the old complaint about female characters being girlfriends first and characters second. I’d rather Lola have her own things going in addition to her being obsessed with Bugs. Also, there’s been a curious lack of Elmer Fudd in these episodes (again, so far). Elmer has only appeared twice on TLTS as of this writing (thrice if one counts his non-speaking cameo in the Merrie Melody “Blow My Stack”); First, in the premiere episode’s Merrie Melody “Grilled Cheese” and again briefly giving a weather report in the episode “Fish and Visitors”. The series bio claims that Fuddsy is still a hunter, perhaps we could see some classic Bugs and Elmer confrontations in a future episode. We can hope.

Overall, I give The Looney Tunes Show a B-. Not perfect, but not the absolute worst take on the franchise either. To me, Loonatics Unleashed still holds that title. The series’ opening theme is downright infectious. I get the impression that the shows’ producers are mostly throwing stuff at a dart board and seeing what sticks. Here’s hoping that things will improve for TLTS during it’s 2nd season, since there’s always the chance of the producers improving on things during the season breaks.

"The Looney Tunes Show": Bedlam in the ‘Burbs

First, for those who don’t know, let me start by saying that I’m a huge, HUGE fan of Warner Brothers animation, especially the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the gang were a quintessential part of my childhood. Since I’ve always felt like I’m half-human, half-cartoon anyway, I enjoyed and could identify with most of them (especially Daffy Duck, whom I consider to be my alter ego), and the Warner Bros. shorts helped shape me into the delightfully twisted individual that I am today.

Not only did I enjoy the original WB shorts, but I was also into the latter-day cartoon shows from the ’90’s which were inspired by the greatness of the Looney Tunes shorts, such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Freakazoid! (Pinky & the Brain, not so much; those characters were OK in small doses, but I never thought they deserved their own show. Now a Slappy Squirrel spinoff, on the other hand….)

In recent years, however, we haven’t seen much of Bugs and company. There have been the occasional single character shows like Taz-Mania and Duck Dodgers and the odd knockoff show like Baby Looney Tunes (an uninspired and unfunny babyfication that recalled the babyfication shows of the 80’s and 90’s, though it came out during the ’00’s) and 1 or 2 movies like Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but other than that, not much of anything at all for nearly a decade. The shorts even disappeared from Cartoon Network and Boomerang, not due to lack of popularity, but rather due to an extreme lack of corporate synergy between CN’s parents, Turner and Warner Bros. (I’ll spare you the details of why; the basic rub is that WB wanted Turner to pay them a royalty for the rights to air the shorts and Turner basically said “We can’t go for that. No now, no can do”, hence a years long standoff between those 2 stubborn Zax.) Had WB forgotten about us? Where are the Looney Tunes now? What have they been up to? Just where are they??

Enter The Looney Tunes Show.


First, a little history. The Looney Tunes Show project was first launched about 2 and a half years ago. It was originally conceived as a sketch comedy show entitled Laff Riot, and since went through a number of twists and turns (at one stage, it was even considered to make the gang younger, like teenagers. Please, no. It’s not the late 80’s to early 90’s anymore; the days of babyfication/kiddification/teenifications are over, and thank the Cathode Gods for that), until finally the idea of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck sharing a house was tossed around, leading to what the show is today.

Here’s the overview: Bugs Bunny has moved out of his hole in the ground and has settled into a house in a suburban neighborhood known as Royal Oaks Glen Oaks Oakwood Oaks in the suburbs of California. Along for the ride is Daffy Duck, who has apparently fallen upon hard times and is currently crashing in Bugs’ pad temporarily until he gets back on his feet…which hasn’t happened yet in 5 years and counting. In addition to this oddest of odd couples, the wascally wabbit and the little black duck have a score of Looney Tunes favorites as their eccentric colorful wacky neighbors:

  • Porky Pig has the George Costanza role of the lovable loser, the awkward square hanger-on who’s still eager and willing to hang with Daffy and Bugs; he’s just happy to be included.
  • Yosemite Sam is the resident grouchy, overly aggressive neighbor from hell who’s always got something shady going on. he’s a liar, a cheat and sore loser, but at least he’s consistent.
  • Granny lives next door to Bugs and Daffy, and is once again the owner of Tweety and Sylvester. T&S are still pets on TLTS, so Bugs, Daffy and the other anthros never talk directly to them. Otherwise, it would look weird how some animals who are owned are livng alongside other animals who live independently of humans.
  • Foghorn Leghorn is a self-made billionaire and adventurer, but still an oblivious blowhard.
  • Speedy Gonzalez (here voiced by Saturday Night Live regular Fred Armisen) runs the local diner, when he’s not residing within the bowels of Bugs and Daffy’s home.
  • Mac and Tosh, aka the Goofy Gophers, run an antique and curio shop (among other occupations; the 2 seem to be the commentators of every staged event on the show), but are still exceptionally polite to one another.
  • Elmer Fudd is a newsreader who puts a pleasant, simple-minded spin on even the worst reports.
  • Witch Hazel is now called Witch Lezah (Hazel backwards; perhaps a relative, acquaintance or doppelganger?) and is here voiced by actress Roz Ryan (regular viewers of Cartoon Network will probably know Ryan best as the voice of Bubbie the whale on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack), though June Foray is still around to voice Granny. ‘Lezah’ is another neighbor and a practicing witch who acts as a single mother to Gossamer (the hulking, orange-haired, big finger-nailed, sneaker-wearing monster from Chuck Jones’ Hair-Raising Hare).
  • The Tasmanian Devil, aka Taz, like Sylvester and Tweety, is a pet on TLTS. (He’s Bugs’ dog, to be exact.) This may seem odd, but considering the last time that WB tried to portray Taz as an ‘intelligent’ animal a la Bugs, Daffy and Porky, he was met with criticism by a pressure group for allegedly making fun of teenagers with Down’s Syndrome (I am not making this up), so I’m guessing the show’s writers felt that making Taz a pet was just safer.
  • Pepe Le Pew is a Lothario of a wedding planner with 7 ex-wives.
  • Lola Bunny (introduced in Space Jam) is also back for more, though she’s nothing like her SJ self. Voice by another SNL cast member, Kristen Wiig, Lola here is considerably bubblier, goofier and crazier, and just a little clingy. Did I say a little?
  • A single new character makes her debut on TLTS: Tina Russo Duck, a female counterpart for Daffy. She works at a copy shop and tries to make a decent man out of the out-of-control mallard because she “likes a project”.

Each episode of The Looney Tunes Show consists of a single 22-minute installment with such plots as: Bugs and Daffy go on a game show for best friends, but Daffy is so self-absorbed and oblivious to everything around him that isn’t Daffy related that he muffs every question, including naming Bugs’ famous catch phrase (“Um….I don’t do Mondays!”) and even the rabbit’s last name; the duo going to prison and Bugs discovering to his delight that he can insult whomever he wants and not receive any physical punishment for it (“It’s a smart-aleck’s paradise!”); and the guys having to room with Sam (and briefly his Russian mail-order bride) after Sam’s plans to go off the grid are defeated by an extended rainstorm. In between the acts of the story are filler segments: “Merrie Melodies”, little musical interludes featuring various characters sending up various musical genres, such as Elmer crooning a smooth, sensual ballad about coming home to his beloved grilled cheese sandwich, Marvin the Martian doing a club-techno style number about how he just wants to be friends–unless you cross him, in which case it’s laser time; and a rap number by Sam about how he can’t help but blow his stack–accompanied by a trio of high-thighed female backup singers who seem to be bent on getting him to do just that. There are also dialogue-less shorts starring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (the only 2 characters who weren’t transplanted to the suburban cul-de-sac) rendered in CGI (my guess is that the RR shorts are done in CG so as to emphasize that they take place in a different setting than the rest of the show, but that’s just a guess).

Now you’d think that the first major Looney Tunes TV show in nearly 10 years would be greeted with open arms by the Looney Tunes faithful, right?

Well, yes and no.

While many folks are taking to The Looney Tunes Show, several more are not. Upon seeing the clips which are posted on CN’s website as well as the premiere episode, I was exposed to bile and hate-rants that I never would have expected to hear directed towards something Looney Tunes-related. One brain surgeon declared TLTS “a ruination of the Looney Tunes franchise” and the “WORST. SHOW. EVER.”


I realize that not everybody would be won over by TLTS, but the worst show ever? Seriously? You think that THIS is the worst thing WB has ever done with the LT franchise? Have we really forgotten about this???



Geez, was 4 years really that long ago? Have we all honestly forgotten what a steaming pile of suck Loonatics Unleashed was?? I can understand some people not taking to The Looney Tunes Show, but to imply that it’s anywhere near the level of utter badness of Loonatics Unleashed? Dude, what are you smokin’??!?

As I see it, the biggest problem that The Looney Tunes Show faces is that, well, it’s Looney Tunes. LT is such an iconic brand that any new adaptation of the franchise is automatically going to have ridiculously high expectations attached to it, and so any new version of Looney Tunes is going to be a disappointment to some.

The 3 biggest complaints I’ve been hearing about The Looney Tunes Show are:

  1. “It’s not the shorts”, as another rocket scientist emoted.
  2. The suburban setting and the sitcom-style format, and
  3. The new stylized character designs.

Allow me to give my takes on each:

Regarding points #1 and #2: Well duh, Einstein, WB never claimed that TLTS would be a 100% reiteration of the old shorts. There’s no way it could be as Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, Bob Clampett, Arthur Davis, Milt Franklin and Mel Blanc are all no longer with us, and unless someone at Warner’s knows black magic or voodoo, they can’t be brought back. Nor do I think that it should be; if WB just wanted to rehash the old shorts format and formulas, they could just re-air the original shorts on Cartoon Network (which they’re doing right now in order to promote TLTS, making a shorts rehash even less necessary.)

If I wanted to see the exact same take on the characters and the exact same situations as the original shorts with absolutely NO changes made to them, then there’d be no point in Warner Bros. making anything new at all. Which is not to say that there shouldn’t be any consistency to the characters, but the “changes” made to the characters and situations aren’t really that different or beyond what we’ve come to expect (these characters have been portrayed as living in suburban homes and/or holding down jobs in quite a number of shorts), so complaining about the cosmetic changes the producers have applied on this show is, well, kind of stupid. The fact of the matter is that these characters have been re-interpreted time and again several times over the years by Termite Terrace’s various directors, so which interpretation are TLTS’ producers supposed to be faithful to? Very few things about the Looney Tunes are actually set in stone. Saying, “It HAS to be THIS way” is just limiting creating freedom and potential. Of course, that can go both ways. If they are forced to make things new just for the sake of being new, it can be bad as well. But I don’t see TLTS as being an example of the latter; I see it as merely being a modern-day take on the characters set in a fixed locale that’s familiar with its’ intended audience.

Regarding point #3: forgive my bluntness, but the people complaining about the new designs should get over it. The fact of the matter is that the Looney Tunes characters’ designs have changed each time that a different director took over for said character in the shorts: Tex Avery’s Bugs Bunny looked different from Bob Clampett’s Bugs, who looked different from Robert McKimson’s Bugs, who looked different from Chuck Jones’ Bugs, etc. despite this, Bugs was always still recognizable as Bugs, despite how each director had his own physical take on the character. What’s happening here on The Looney Tunes Show is no different.

As far as I’m concerned, TLTS came around at just the right time. The Looney Tunes have been off of TV proper for a considerable while now; we’re coming into a generation of kids who either don’t know or barely know who Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes are. Some kids who regularly watch CN might know them as those characters from Space Jam or Back in Action, but not intimately, and that thought both frightens and repulses me. Disney has managed to keep their shorts stars in the limelight for the past 10 years, granted they’ve mainly been using them as babysitters for wee tots, bit they’re still using them, so why can’t or shouldn’t WB do the same for their shorts stars?

Which is not to say that The Looney Tunes Show is all rainbows and lollipops. It’s not perfect. There are a few things that I’d like to see changed about the show. Minor nitpicks, but nitpicks nonetheless:

  1. I don’t think that every story needs to be one 22-minute episode; some of them are just 11-minute or 7-minute plots. I’d like to see some short length stories with only the occasional 22-minute episode. Sometimes the strain to keep the stories going is very noticeable.
  2. On this regard, I agree with the show’s naysayers: the lack of constant background music on the show is somewhat awkward. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the shorts and the Silver Age shows, but I would like to see that changed.
  3. Another valid point the detractors have is that there should be a little more slapstick on the show. there’s nothing wrong with the verbal humor, but this is Looney Tunes. The odd falling anvil, comical explosion or pie in the face couldn’t hurt.

So overall, I give The Looney Tunes Show a B+. Is it the best thing ever? No, but a total abomination on the LT franchise? Not by a long shot. The show’s ratings have been solid so far, so as a fan, I say more power to ’em. To all who aren’t fans, hey, it’s fine if this show isn’t your cup of tea, but I urge you to………