Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The New Loonies

The New York Times tells of the long history of working to revive the tent-poles of Porky, Bugs and Daffy ... and the current effort:

Ask a first grader to identify Bugs Bunny and the response more likely than not will be a blank stare. Dora, sure. Mickey, alive and kicking. But Porky who?

Worried that the low profile of the Looney Tunes cast ... is the start of th-th-th-that’s all folks for the historic cartoon franchise, Warner Brothers is embarking on a five-alarm rescue effort ...

A new 26-episode half-hour series, “The Looney Tunes Show,” is headed toward Cartoon Network in the fall ... the television series alone carries a cost of about $750,000 an episode, according to industry estimates. “We want to reinvigorate the brand with the best possible execution — high-quality, high-end state of the art” ...

I've been through the Warners animation studio, and the new character designs for the old characters and the execution of the boards are first rate.

And how are the shows? Since I haven't seen them, I can't offer much of an opinion, but there have been development pains. Crew was laid off last year while the Warners top-kicks paused the production to retool the original retooling. The Times makes reference to new c.g. Coyote and Road Runner shorts. People I've talked to say the crew and director of the latest C & Rs did a solid job with them. (I'm informed the c.g. animation is being created by Reel Effects in Texas.)

I'm hoping that the series, despite the production hiccups, ends up being a smash hit. But while I wait to see how the new Loonies ultimately turn out, my heart is lifted, at least a little, by the Times:

... [A]rt from “The Loonatics Unleashed” is framed and hanging in Warner’s animation offices as a reminder of what not to do ...


Anonymous said...

Ask a first grader to identify Bugs Bunny and the response more likely than not will be a blank stare. Dora, sure. Mickey, alive and kicking. But Porky who?

I beg to differ, Mr. Barnes:
Our next generation was raised properly, and although our youngest may not have known the names of Chuck Jones or Mike Maltese at the time, by age 3-4, she was already aware of why the Chuck-directed Bugs Always Won. :)

(If anything, what's damaging the future marketing is Warner's justifiable difficulty marketing anything NEW connected with the Looneys--As evidenced by the time they tried opening the Joe Dante movie the same week as the first classic DVD's hit shelves.)

Anonymous said...

The Wile E. Coyote stuff looks awesome.

Anonymous said...

The Looney Tunes Franchise is a license to print money.

That nobody at Warner Brothers can seem to make the money-printer work is a mystery.

Every five years or so, some suit there has a panic attack and fears the death of the franchise, and then does something so boneheaded that they do far more harm than good... like Loonatics or those horrible space jam movies, or turning Tweety-Bird into a girl.

Hint to Warners' execs, here's what you've never, ever gotten about Looney Tunes: The films are SMART. The directors of the original films were *SMART*. They made smart films.

Anyone who can't make money off of Looney Tunes needs to get out of the money-making business.

Anonymous said...

like Loonatics or those horrible space jam movies, or turning Tweety-Bird into a girl.

Congratulations--It's always refreshing to meet someone who remembers Tweety's proper gender, despite Warner marketing's attempt to find a "Grrl-power" demographic merchandising hook.

As for the new CG I. Coyote in's official--Dee is the New Desperation:
There's a difference between a "License to print money", and a "Get Out of Jail Free card".

Anonymous said...

Desperate? It looks fresh to me. Looks like the only good thing in a long time to come from the Looney Toons license.

Anonymous said...

Looks more like Warner trying to grab a cheap piece of Ice Age fandom, for the obvious reasons.
And when the original tries to cash in on its more merchandised imitators...that's Desperation.

Steven said...

There is a little bit of rose-colored-glasses mythology is developing here. A lot of the Looney Tunes cartoons created for TV were crap, made by many of the same people who made the brilliant theatricals. "Look" isn't everything. No one, (so far), in at least half a century has been successful in recreating the spirit, energy, humor and edginess of the theatricals.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the "old" spirit was created by the influence of Old Radio at the time:
Voice talent worked back and forth from the studios and the networks and brought the live-audience comic timing with them, gags borrowed the pop lines and running gags (the Warner writers loved to borrow Jack Benny bits), and comics trained in vaudeville set the standard for the 40's.

Nowadays, you've got half the new-gen Looney-appointed writers trying to do the Simpsons, half trying to do whip-gag John K., and a Warner fringe wishing they'd bring Spielberg's Animaniacs back.
Not to sound like an old fogey, but we have a Less Funny Generation.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, so sue me, but I liked Tiny Toons and Duck Dodgers.

Anonymous said...

Tiny toons and animaniacs were moderately successful attempts.

They treated their audience as if it was made of of people over 3. Some of the stuff they did is still quite good.

Too bad it was within a box of "kid cartoon". There was some really funny and really clever stuff in there.

It seemed like they had some aspirations toward greatness, and they succeeded some of the time, despite what must have been burdensome limitations imposed on them.

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