Thursday, June 2, 2011

Looney Tunes Show? I Don't Think So

Last month I decided to write a blog talking about The Looney Tunes Show after the first episode had aired on Cartoon Network. In the article I talked about how the first episode was looking good, and how if the rest of the season followed in its footsteps, the show would ultimately be a worthy continuation of the Looney Tunes legacy.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going to happen. The Looney Tunes Show has a solid concept and an idea of where it wants to take the characters. Unfortunately that idea is more suited for an original show than anything depicting the Looney Tunes characters. This is honestly what I thought Regular Show was going to be when commercials for that began airing, and if that were true, both shows would be all the better for it.

I'm glad that the show hasn't yet become a jumble of mindless screaming and gross-out humor. It looks like the creators are holding themselves to some standard in an attempt not to soil the character's reputations. The main focus being on Daffy over Bugs has also worked out well for the cartoon, as Daffy has more potential to grow with the audience.

What isn't working out are the portrayals of nearly every other Looney Tunes character they've introduced to this point. I first noticed the deviation in personality with Bugs Bunny losing that screwball edge his cartoons were famous for and taking a more sarcastic straight man role to be a foil for the naive Daffy, and in the same episode I also noticed that Speedy Gonzales was far from the heroic mouse he once was. Both of these were fairly excusable, more so for Bugs who managed to keep a greater chunk of his character.

Speedy, however, is an asshole.
I overlooked Speedy's brief moment in the first episode in the hopes that they would get their shit together later on in the season and put the right character in that body. The next episode introduced two characters who have appeared in some form during the Looney Tunes history: Lola Bunny and her father, whom I shall call Mister Bunny.

This episode pissed me off royally, because I will admit to being a Lola Bunny fan. The personality they shoved in Lola's skin is so far from what the character should be that I seriously wonder if the creators know anything about her at all. If you're going to write a character, you should at least familiarize yourself with the material she came from. In Space Jam Lola Bunny was a girl power character. Calm, collected, and very confident she knew she was sexy and skilled and was ready to show off both.

In The Looney Tunes Show Lola is a mile-a-minute gabber that Bugs wishes would shut her whore mouth, as opposed to in Space Jam where Bugs couldn't close his. She's a fickle, spoiled brat who ditches Bugs at the drop of a hat (admittedly to his relief) and has the typical blond syndrome. A far cry from the character she was designed to be.

Also, the art style does her no justice.
A little more excusable is Lola's father, who was previously introduced to the world in a really obscure webtoon early in the past decade. In this webtoon Mister Bunny is older gentlerabbit playing the antagonist as he tries to prevent his daughter from dating Bugs. In The Looney Tunes Show Lola's father is an entirely different man... rabbit. The new interpretation of Lola's father is that of a wealthy man, which is a characteristic I feel was portrayed in his previous cartoon, but he is much younger and far more cheerful. He's also built entirely differently. This isn't really much of a problem considering that few people will know the original interpretation of the character, but since I know my shit I'm a little miffed.

Old on the left, new on the right.
This episode also introduces Pepé Le Pew, the popular skunk most known for chasing after poor Penelope Pussycat. Penelope, however, is nowhere to be seen (though Wiki seems to think Tara Strong will be voicing her later in the season. Not sure how I feel about Penelope talking) and Pepé plays the role of Bugs and Lola's wedding planner. I guess he's fairly in character for the setting, but they made him a little too sleazy for my tastes.

At this point the show was beginning to lose my interest, having fucked around with characters way too much. I gave it one last shot, however, and watched the third episode where they introduced Porky Pig. And they introduced him right. If there's one character this show has actually improved on, it's Porky Pig. They keep all of his famous quirks, all of his personality is here. It's here and enhanced. Porky is a reasonable, shy, somewhat timid little pig who happens not to wear any pants. And the best part is that they've toned down the stutter enough so that it isn't annoying, but kept it prominent enough so you know he has one. Porky is done well, and I enjoy every scene that he's in.

The next episode brought us Yosemite Sam, the roughenest, toughenest, rowdiest rustler in the whole wide West. For the most part, Sam was pretty in character. He put on kind pretense when it furthered his own goals, and was a complete dick when he didn't need help anymore. I'm fairly satisfied with Sam's portrayal.

Except those eyebrows, of course.
Most recently we are introduced to Witch Hazel and Gossamer who are so far from their inspiration that I wonder why they didn't use a different character altogether. Witch Hazel, as seen here, is a not so wicked witch with an African accent that doesn't sound remotely like her cackling self, and Gossamer is her wimpy elementary-attending son. While the character being called Gossamer is cute, I can't help but feel a more appropriate character already exists in the Warner Bros. pantheon.

In short: The Looney Tunes Show is doing it wrong.