The following is my second of two entries in my ‘One’ of My-All Time Favorite Cartoons Blogathon, being held at this blog on Nov. 6-8, 2015. Click on the above banner, and read entries about terrific ‘toons that these bloggers just can’t resist!
Steven Spielberg is already immortalized in Hollywood for far more noble ventures — but for me, if he’d never been responsible for anything but Tiny Toon Adventures, he’d have a huge place in my heart.
When this TV cartoon was first publicized in 1990 (the 60th anniversary of Warner Bros. first talking cartoon, and the 50th anniversary of the “birth” of Bugs Bunny), I cringed. I felt a little comforted when veteran Warners cartoon director Friz Freleng said he saw a preview of the series and thought it looked as good as any theatrical cartoon. When the cartoon finally debuted, I thought I’d died and gone to animation heaven.
The characterizations are obviously a nod to the “classic” Looney Tunes characters. Buster Bunny is obviously patterned after Bugs, Plucky Duck is a distant relative to daffy Daffy, and so on. The connection is even more obvious because the Tiny Toons attend Acme Looniversity, where the Looney Tunes veterans tutor them in the art of getting laughs. Well, the Toons have obviously earned their diplomas, because they do the job quite well on their own.
The gags and pacing are top-notch, and the pop-culture level is easily up to that of “The Simpsons.” (How many kids’ cartoons would even attempt a parody of Citizen Kane, let alone pull it off?) Production of the TV series has long ceased, but happily, most of the best of the series is available on home video.
A good intro to the style is the direct-to-video feature “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” worth the price of the rental just for its caricatures of Hollywood stars. But the acme (so to speak) is the tape “Tiny Toons Music Television,” with a number of MTV-style videos of classic and obscure hits performed by the Tiny Toons.
(I’ve posted a clip from that episode below. It’s probably my favorite “Tiny Toons” segment, their hilarious interpretation of They Might Be Giants’ song “Particle Man.” In another nod to Looney Tunes history, that boxer/wrestler who always came up a cropper in Chuck Jones’ Bugs Bunny cartoons such as Rabbit Punch finally holds his own with Plucky Duck here.)
As critic Manny Farber once said about the original Looney Tunes cartoons, the great ones are masterpieces and the bad ones aren’t a total loss.
(If you’ve enjoyed reading this blogathon entry, please click here to read my first entry on the 1935 Popeye cartoon The Spinach Overture.)