Big Ideas: HBTV (Revisited)

Back in 2012 I mentioned an idea for a Cartoon Network programming block I had called HBTV. Today I’d to do a more detailed description of it.

“Ooh! A new animated show from Warner Bros.? Great! I can’t wait for it to come to HBO Max so I can cancel it and shelf it as a tax write-off!”

Get the hook! Or better yet, open the piranha pit. Anyway…

Here’s my pitch: HBTV is an hour-long programming block that would air on Cartoon Network during prime time. (I envision it airing at 8PM EST on Sunday nights after ACME Night, but you don’t have to.)

The block is basically a love letter to Hanna-Barbera Studios.

Funtastic!

Each week there’d be 2 original animated shows based on some classic Hanna-Barbera franchise. Some examples…

A new Wacky Races show.

I was thinking something more along the lines of Wacky Races Forever as opposed to that Boomerang series.

A new Scooby-Doo series, because why not? Maybe something akin to Mystery, Inc.

A new Flintstones show. Again, why not?

Or this block could be the new home for Jellystone!.

Between the shows there’d be fun filler segments, spotlighting other HB characters rendered in a variety of art styles. Some examples:

HB Super Stars: new, action-packed mini-sodes starring Hanna-Barbera’s superheroes such as Space Ghost (not Coast to Coast!), The Herculoids, Birdman, The Galaxy Trio, Mighty Mightor, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and more…
Shorties: original shorts starring HB characters in new and unique art styles. If you’ve seen Cartoon Network’s Shorties, you know what to expect;
Groovies: original music videos based on HB franchises. Again if you’ve seen the CN/Boomerang Groovies, you get it…
New Banana Splits segments, ’cause why not?…
New Tom & Jerry mini-shorts…
And an original idea I had, The New Impossibles. It would center around a teenage trio of pop-stars…
…Who just happen to be the super powered daughters of the legendary secret fighters for justice, The Impossibles.

I’m talking 60 Funtastic minutes of Hanna-Barbera goodness! Feel me??

“(Yawn) So it’s like DC Nation, but for Hanna-Barbera.”

-Yeah, basically.

One Thing I Don’t Like about “Jellystone!”

I don’t like this show’s take on The Banana Splits. I, like many, I presume, was initially stoked when I found out that The Banana Splits were going to be characters on Jellystone!, but unfortunately, their portrayal here leaves something to be desired.

Fleagle doesn’t have his signature lisp. Drooper doesn’t speak with his signature southern drawl (which was based on that of Monkee’s member Mike Nesmith, btw). And most importantly, The Banana Splits are NOT villains! The Jellystone! characters neither sound nor act anything like the Banana Splits that we know and love. These are just 4 guys who look like The Banana Splits.

These are the real Banana Splits; goofy, fun-loving musicians who sing, dance, tell corny jokes and fall down a lot. That’s how the Splits should have been portrayed on Jellystone. The portrayal of the Splits is one of the few blemishes on an otherwise OK show.

And why would C.H. Greenblatt and his team make The Banana Splits antagonists on a Hanna-Barbera love letter series when Dick Dastardly and Muttley are right there?

Looks like I’ll have to wait a little longer for the triumphant return of the Ant Hill Mob.

That’s Warner Brothers!/Unpopular Opinions: This Must Be Bizarro World

“The following am very important and worth everyone’s time.”

Htrea, aka Bizarro World, is an imperfect, messed-up funhouse mirror duplicate of Earth where everything is the opposite of our world: cats chase dogs, jokes make people cry, boy bands play instruments and Bizarro Joker is the only sane person on the planet.

These days I swear I must be living on Bizarro World, because there was a time if someone told me that Bugs Bunny Builders, an upcoming preschool show for Cartoon Network’s Cartoonito block, would be the show that interests me and that I’m curious to see an episode or two of…

And Tiny Toons Looniversity, a new adaptation of the wonderful 90’s series Tiny Toon Adventures, would be the show that I couldn’t give two squats about…

I’d have told them they were crazy.

But here we are.

I don’t get it either. I’ve tried, folks; I’ve legitimately tried to generate some interest in Tiny Toons Looniversity, but it just ain’t happening. I have zero interest in this show. I’m not even slightly curious about it.

The show I am interested in seeing is Bugs Bunny Builders, the Cartoonito show with squashed versions of Bugs, Lola, Daffy, Porky and Tweety as construction workers taking on all the jobs that Bob the Builder rejected.

“Can we build it? Eh, maybe.”

I know TTL is the show I should be psyched for; I was a big fan of Tiny Toons back in the day, but I’m just not. I think I know why, though: One reason is Reboot Fatigue: I’m legit getting tired of all of these studios strip-mining the nostalgia of Millennials. Another reason is one that I brought up in an earlier Talkin’ Nerdy: I simply don’t think we need another Tiny Toons show right now.

Don’t get wrong; as previously stated, I was a fan of the original Tiny Toons. It definitely filled a need: TT premiered in 1990; back then there was almost no Looney Tunes media aside from The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show on ABC and assorted VHS compilations (anybody remember VHS?), but those were all just collections of the old theatrical shorts, Warner Bros. wasn’t making any new stuff with the Looney Tunes (Space Jam wouldn’t happen for another six years, and this was even before shows like Bugs & Daffy or The ACME Hour — Cartoon Network wouldn’t launch until 1992), so Tiny Toons was as close as we could get to a new Looney Tunes show at the time. It also didn’t hurt that TT was one of the very few syndicated animated series which was all-comedy in an era when most cartoons were action-based or action-comedy hybrids. So I’m not knocking what Tiny Toons contributed to the cultural lexicon.

BUUUT that was then. Today we’re experiencing a kind of Looney Tunes Renaissance: we’ve since gotten no less than 3 new Looney Tunes shows…

Count ’em. Three.

We had a movie this past summer (Space Jam: A New Legacy) and we’ve got 2 new Looney Tunes shows waiting in the wings: the aforementioned Bugs Bunny Builders

…And Tweety Mysteries. Not to mention that Wile E. Coyote VS ACME movie which is supposedly still happening and will be out…sometime.

So with WB doing all this new stuff with the Looney Tunes, what do we need a new Tiny Toons show for? If you own a designer original, what do you need with a knockoff?

Again, I enjoyed Tiny Toons back in the day, but there’s nothing WB can do with Buster, Babs, Plucky, Hamton and Dizzy that they can’t already do with Bugs, Lola, Daffy, Porky and Taz, and when you strip Tiny Toons down to its’ bare bones, Tiny Toons was just a kiddification. I didn’t think we needed a new Animaniacs either (and still don’t), but at least in the case of A!, the characters, while created in the spirit of Looney Tunes, are still original characters with their own shticks. TT, by contrast, did some great shorts, but the characters will always just be junior versions of the Looney Tunes and consequently will always be in their collective shadow.

“You are wrong! The Tiny Toons are original characters! They’re teenagers, unlike the Looney Tunes! There’s all kinds of stuff they can do with them! You’re just a hater!”

Really, what can the producers do on a new Tiny Toons show? A show devoted to part-time jobs? They did that in the first series. Dating and the prom? They did that too. Cramming for exams? They did that. The big football game? Done that. Field trips? Seen that. The only thing they can’t do in this new series is constantly remind us again and again that it’s the 90’s.

Sure, the producers are doing the world a favor by dropping the odious Elmyra from the show, but that’s still not enough to make me interested in it.

By contrast, Bugs Bunny Builders offers things I haven’t seen before.

For one, the cast.

Rather than centering the show on all of the Tunes as a whole, BBB looks like it’ll just be focusing on a crew of 5: Bugs, Porky, Lola, Daffy and Tweety (Tweety being there without Sylvester is kind of weird, though). I’m sure other Looney Tunes characters will make appearances, but I like the minimalist approach the producers are taking with this show.

Second, it looks like we’ll be getting a version of Lola Bunny that’s actually funny. Dare I say, LOONY!

I’m definitely looking forward to that after the comparatively bland version we got in Space Jam: A New Legacy. It’s quite a leap from a “too cool for school” Lola who sounded like Zendaya to a bubbly, silly one who sounds like one of the Chipettes, but I’m not complaining.

But what really sold me on BBB is this:

If this image is any indication, then it looks like Daffy on this show will be his earlier “crazy, darn-fool” version, which again we didn’t get in New Legacy.

Plucky Duck from Tiny Toons was straight-up 1950’s Daffy, which is fine, but I prefer the nuttier 1940’s version overall.

It looks like we may finally be getting the long-awaited Bugs and Crazy Daffy team-up for the first time…on a preschool show! I tell you, we’re in Bizarro World!

To (finally) sum up, I guess I relate to what producer/writer Paul Rugg said when asked why he wouldn’t be participating in the Animaniacs reboot:

“Here’s the thing: I did that. 20 years ago.”

That basically sums up my feelings about these reboots. Tiny Toons was great. Animaniacs was great. But both shows were products of the 90’s that I don’t need to see more of. It’s like Eek! The Cat.

I watched Eek! when it was on, I got a kick out of it, but I don’t need to see Eek! suddenly pop back into existence and find out what he’s been up to these past 20 years. I saw the originals, I’m good.

I haven’t seen 5 of the top tier Looney Tunes try to build stuff with kooky stylized vehicles and equipment, so I’m more inclined to check that out.
“That been very bad post! This will be very unpopular and earn you many, many dislikes!”

-Yeah, I know.

That’s Warner Brothers! Just a Little Loony

So, this year, Warner Bros Media announced that Cartoon Network will begin airing the international preschool programming block Cartoonito to the CN US starting this September.

“Uh………yay?”

The reason why I’m bringing this up here is because there are no less than three (3) shows coming to the block that are based on Warner Brothers owned properties. One of which is Batwheels, a series set in the DC universe that focuses on the exploits of the Batmobile.

Well, OK, then. So that’s a thing that’s happening. I don’t have much to say about Batwheels since I’m pretty much Batman-ed out at this stage. Come on, WB. I get that the Bat is one of your studio’s biggest cash cows, but can’t we get a DC animated series that’s not about Batman or part of his supporting cast? Why not make a show starring Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Shazam or anyone else besides Batman (or Harley Quinn)? Anyway, I’m not the target for this show, therefore my opinion on it doesn’t carry the weight of sunlight.

But what’s more interesting to me is two other shows based on WB properties that are coming. One of which is a new Looney Tunes animated series titled Bugs Bunny Builders.
What it’s about (source: TheTVDB.com) – Bugs Bunny Builders brings the wackiness, humor and slapstick we’ve grown to love to a new preschool audience. At ACME Construction Company Bugs Bunny and Lola Bunny manage a crew of builders that, quite frankly, should not be anywhere near a construction site. However, by working together as a team, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety and others use their tools and wild vehicles to pull off some of the looniest construction jobs ever.

My Initial Thoughts:

I know that we’ve been down this road before with Baby Looney Tunes, but this series seems to be a tad more ambitious than that series was. BBB isn’t just a clone of Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies.

This series at least has an original premise (well not so original. Bob the Builder anyone?), and this series claims to incorporate some of the Looney Tunes’ signature zany humor. Now, I don’t know how well that’s going to translate on a show aimed at preschoolers, but it’s certainly an ambitious endeavor.

Also, based on the few images that I’ve been able to find, it looks as though Builders will focus mostly (if not solely) on the characters of Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Lola and Tweety. I’m guessing that if any of the other LT characters appear at all, they’ll appear as either guest stars, supporting players or make the odd cameo now and then.

Side Bar: I read a comment about this show on YouTube in which someone responded with:

“No…Pepe LePew! (sob)”

OK, seriously. I like Pepe LePew as much as anyone else, but can you all please stop crying about Pepe LePew whenever the subject of something Looney Tunes related comes up? I agree that it sucks that Pepe’s one scene in Space Jam: A New Legacy was cut, but it was just one scene, which wouldn’t have made a huge impact on the film even if it didn’t get cut. And yeah, I agree that WB doesn’t need to remove the character going forward., but the fact of the matter that Pepe’s chief shtick (jumping on anything with a pulse) didn’t age well. That’s really all there is too it.

Pepe was problematic, but not unfixable. WB could at least try to give the character a new shtick for the modern era. New Looney Tunes (an underrated show, in my opinion) was on the right track when they turned Pepe into a parody of James Bond. In those shorts, Pepe’s advances were strictly toward his female partner (a female fox named Claudette Dupri), but she would routinely rebuff his advances and tell him to keep his dirty mind focused on the mission at hand. As for Bugs Bunny Builders, Pepe was never an A-list character. He was B or C-list at best, so it wasn’t a given that he’d be in this show anyway, at least not as a central character.

End Side Bar.

Is it just me, or do the Looney Tunes appear to be drawn to look a little younger than usual? I guess that makes sense, seeing how this show is aimed at preschoolers.

And if this picture is any indication, it looks as though we’ll be getting the 1940s crazy version of Daffy Duck here. That puts a smile on my face. And on that note…Producers, please make Lola funny on this show. Having Lola revert to her earlier boring, dull as dishwater self in Space Jam: A New Legacy was such a letdown! Please tell me that we haven’t seen the last of kooky, distsy, zany Lola.

I don’t plan on watching this regularly, since I’m not 4 years old, but I must admit that I am curious to see just how WB plans to execute this idea. When it’s ready to air, there will undoubtedly be clips for it on YouTube and sites similar to that, so I’ll likely check those out in order to satisfy my curiosity.

Moving on…

The last show based on an established WB property that was announced was a show being called Tom & Jerry Junior.

And if you thought Warner Brothers was being tight lipped about Bugs Bunny Builders, the studio is being super secretive about this show! The notes on Tom and Jerry Junior must be locked up in a vault and that vault must be buried 6 feet underground! So far, we’ve got no synopsis, no trailer, no premiere date and the only image for the show that I could find was the above title card that doesn’t even have any characters on it. Literally, all we know about this show is that it’s going to air on Cartoonito, it has something to do with music and Tom & Jerry are in it. That’s it!

I’m legit curious about this show’s title. Why is it called Tom and Jerry “Junior” (singular) and not “Juniors”, with an ‘s’? Is the word “Junior” in the title because it’s a preschool show? Or is it another kiddification like Tom & Jerry Kids was?

We just don’t know.

Usually, when a studio is this secretive about one of it’s projects, it means that said project is either very good or very bad. But this is Warner Bros. we’re talking about, so I’m pretty sure that it’s not a case that WB has a major bomb-a-saurus on it’s hands. Most likely, the studio hasn’t ironed out all of the details yet.

A few weeks ago, Cartoon Network made a trailer for Cartoonito and none of the aforementioned shows were anywhere to seen in it. It’s clear that all of these shows must still be in development, so we’ll just have to wait a little longer to learn more about Bugs Bunny Builders and to find out what the hell Tom & Jerry Junior is. This is why I didn’t do this as a full blown Peeks segment. This was just a little taste.

Kind of like mini cakes, only not as delicious.

Nerdvana: The Miguzi Gang

Today, Nerdvana looks back at Miguzi.

miguzilogo

For the uninformed, Miguzi was an afternoon comedy/action cartoon block that aired on Cartoon Network from April 19th, 2004 to June 1st, 2007, replacing Toonami after the latter got booted off weekday afternoons and relocated to Saturday nights due to parental outrage.

Oh Wont Somebody Please Think of the Children

Sves

Speaking of which, does anybody remember the Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES) that CN did briefly in 2003? It was supposedly a ‘middle ground’ for action cartoons that didn’t quite fit on either Toonami or Adult Swim, but did you know that it also served as a testing ground to see how well a Saturday night Toonami would fare? Now you do.

Miguzi_Wheel_of_Gooz_Promo

So yeah, Miguzi was basically a lighter-toned, more family-friendly Toonami, basically Toonami‘s more innocent younger sister. Folks who grew up watching Miguzi are undoubtedly familiar with the block’s roster of shows; everyone has shows they liked better than others and some which were their personal favorites. However, today’s Nerdvana is not about the shows that aired on Miguzi; the focus of this Nerdvana is the set of wraparounds for the block. (Note: I had originally considered doing this as a Cartoon Couch, but since this is about the bumpers and not the shows, I decided to do it as a Nerdvana instead.)

ANYHWHO….

Erin

The animated hostess of the block was Erin, a young 13-year-old CGI girl with black hair, green eyes and a yellow jumpsuit (voiced by Jessica DiCicco; Miguzi was my first exposure to Ms. DiCicco as a voice actress; I think she also voiced the title character on a Disney show called The Buzz on Maggie around the same time, but I never saw that show and based on what folks on the net have told me about it, it doesn’t sound like I missed anything great) who, at the start of the block, was transported underwater and into a sunken alien spaceship by an enormous mutant red fish with multiple eyeballs. (More on this later.)

Miguzi Gang 2

There, she chills out and watches the shows along with a group of mutant sea creatures and robots, none of whom speak but all of whom have rudimentary personalities. Between the shows Erin and company would indulge in cute, goofy slapstick bits o’ business.

I enjoyed the shows on Miguzi enough, but I have to admit that these wraparounds were among the major selling points for me. Don’t get me wrong; no one’s denying the awesomeness of Tom…

toonamitom2

‘Sup?

…SARA and the Absolution…

SARA_v2.0

“On Toonami.”

…but the Miguzi bumps struck a chord with me, because they were closer to my tastes in entertainment and humor. Cool is definitely cool, but cute, funny and silly have their place too.

Trivia Time: I liked the Miguzi bumpers so much that when we were trying to come up with a name for this site, one of my suggestions was ‘Sunken Spaceship’ in honor of these bumps.

Granted, this premise posed numerous mind-bogglers, such as:

conspiracy_nut

How exactly did this kid come to know about this submerged alien spacecraft in the first place? How did she gain these aliens’ trust? And what was the aliens’ deal, anyway? What were they doing on Earth, why did they come here and how long have they been down there? Were the aliens stuck down there at the bottom of the ocean, or could they leave whenever they wanted? Was the ship damaged? Or was it just the propulsion mechanism that was busted, since other devices inside the ship seemed to work just fine? Were all the aliens from the same planet, or were they from different planets? Several of them were tricloptic (as in 3-eyed); did they mutate while underwater, or were they born that way? And what was the giant mutant fish’s deal? Didn’t Erin’s parents worry about her spending her afternoons at the bottom of the sea with a bunch of aliens? Did anybody else know about the sunken spaceship? Inquiring minds want to know!

-OK, enough over-thinking things. It’s probably best to just chalk everything up to ‘cartoon logic’ and not focus on the logistics too much. The point was to have fun watching the Miguzi gang do wacky stuff. Erin herself seemed to fall into the ‘spunky tomboy’ archetype, enjoying sports and the like, with a playful, mischievous side, while the extraterrestrial bunch she hung out with were colorful to say the least. Because I have too much time in my hands, I’ve categorized the Miguzi Gang into 2 columns: Organics and Robotics. The spaceship’s inhabitants consisted of:

ORGANICS

Big Stalks

Big Stalks: (or just Stalks for short) The big, lumpy green alien with 2 spoke-like antennae sprouting from his head. As his name implies, Big Stalks was the largest one of the group, and also the strongest. He wasn’t the brightest or most graceful creature in the galaxy, but he seemed to have kind of a swagger to him. He also tends to eat whatever’s not nailed down, such as Erin’s game controller, or in one case, her math homework.

Flip

Flip: The short purple alien with the flipper hands and feet (hence his name) who’s third eye stood at the end of his single antenna. He seemed friendly enough, if a tad slow on the uptake.

Miguzi Gang 1

Curly: a blue octopus-y thing with 2 long tentacles for arms and a third sprouting from his head who rode around in a small tank-like containment suit of some kind, with a bubble-shaped see-though helmet. (It’s unclear if he needed this to survive or if he could safely exist without it, as we never saw him not wearing it. In one ‘We’ll Be Right Back’ illustration we see Curly eating a sandwich with the helmet removed; that’s as close as he ever came to removing the suit.) Curly seemed to be a tad smarter than the other ship members, if a bit on the stiff side (though this could be attributed to his being stuck in a tank thingy), as such Curly was a frequent butt of the gang’s slapstick, such as one bit where Erin draws a mustache and glasses on Curly’s helmet with a marker.

Miguzi04

Tre: a small green, tentacled stump-like being with multiple stringy protrusions with an eyeball at the end of each. Tre seemed more like a pet than the more sapient creatures aboard the ship, as evidenced by one bump in which Erin is seen bathing Tre in a sink like a household dog or cat.

Miguzification_03a

Yoke: A later addition to the cast, Yoke was the result of a “Make a MonsterPiece” contest was held on cartoonnetwork.com from November 22, 2004 to January 15, 2005, in which viewers could enter for a chance to have their drawing appear on Miguzi. Hundreds of entries were submitted and a panel of judges selected the winning drawing that was then turned into an animated character. Yoke was the winning submission, drawn by Kyler Spears.

Yoke

Yoke himself was a small, green, slimy looking alien who was contained inside a egg-like flying mini-spacecraft type mechanism, where he sat in a pool of some unidentified green ooze.

TMNT

“Been there, done that!”

No on-air explanation was given about Yoke’s sudden arrival onto the ship, it just happened. One day he wasn’t there, the next day he was. It was like magic. In-universe, Yoke was revealed by Erin to be Curly’s younger brother (though how she figured this out was anybody’s guess, since the 2 looked nothing alike), and indeed, Yoke seemed more like a kid than the others. Yoke also possessed telekinetic powers (activated by a light on the antenna on his head), so a lot of the jokes involving him showed him levitating things around while the others stood agape. (Erin once asked Curly if he could do telekinesis, and he seemed miffed by the question.) My brother Jason said that he wasn’t too crazy about Yoke as he came off like a canon Marty Stu, as he had a super power and no one else did, and I see where he’s coming from, but I also counter with this:

Yoke 2

The dude had no limbs. If Yoke had arms or legs, they were buried under all that ooze and he couldn’t use them. Unlike Curly, no part of Yoke’s body was outside of his mini-ship device, so he couldn’t reach for, touch or grab anything; his t.k. powers were actually kind of a necessity for him.

ROBOTICS

Monitor

Monitor: a self-aware TV monitor who had the most important job of all: he showed the cartoons the gang sat down to watch. He would also sometimes communicate via words that appeared on his screen. He was usually stationery, but in a couple of bumps he was shown to have robotic arms and legs.

Miguzi05

Remo: a self-aware TV remote with a single antenna on his head as well as arms and legs. Since he could move around on his own, he would sometimes get lost, in one instance he was spotted floating around outside the ship.

Bass: a self-aware speaker, also with limbs and a pair of antennae. His most famous appearance was in bit in which Bass is playing corny elevator music (or alternatively corny country music) and Big Stalks comes along and kicks him on the butt, changing the music to something more funky.

Miguzi01

Tweet: A tiny robot (he’s pictured there at the top left), with a spherical black orb head. As his name implies, Tweet communicated by tweeting sounds. As the smallest thing on the ship, a lot of the gags involving Tweet dealt with the problems he encountered due to his diminutive size, such as the time he nearly got eaten by Big Stalks since he was sitting by a bowl of popcorn on the couch.

One thing I liked about the Miguzi Gang was how there was no caste system on the ship. Everyone, organic or robotic, had equal status among the group and no one was treated any different because of their color, or whether or not they have powers or how many eyes they had.

Hippie

“That’s beautiful, man!”

Of course it wasn’t all gravy; I did (and still do) have some minor gripes. It always bugged me how Erin was the only character capable of speaking English; it was like Larry and a whole crew of Darryls. And it really annoyed me how all of the spaceship’s various members were guys. Not one girl! Then CN has a contest for fans to draw a new character and the winner is yet another dude? What the actual what??

-But minor nitpicks aside, I still enjoyed the antics of Erin and the Miguzi Gang. They were probably the coolest gang of spaceship dwellers.

red-dwarf

-OK, the second coolest.