I’ve said it before: I friggin’ love The Looney Tunes Show. The update, not the hacked apart film classics neutered for TV. And not the crap last 30 years of Looney Tunes, either. Screw Space Jam, Back In Action or the head-scratchingly stupid Loonatics Unleashed. They’ve reigned themselves in and Battlestar’d themselves. This stuff is good!
We were told in animation school that when the writing compliments the animation, then you’ve got a great cartoon. Many great animators have said: “If you close your eyes and still understand what’s going on, then the cartoon is crap.” and the new LT keeps that in mind while freshening up the design of the characters.
The dynamic between Bugs and Daffy has been ramped up since their “Rabbit Season” short yet the insanity style has been toned down, with both toons playing off each other like a neurotic Odd Couple while never crossing over into vaudeville. Bugs is less cocky and more quietly confident than his post-war zaniness, which compliments Daffy’s inability to filter himself. They’ve tweaked the two into a classic comedic duo while keeping true to their original characters. Meanwhile the pop culture references that Warner’s cartoons strive for are still present: the duo live in a sitcom perfect house in the suburbs surrounded by returning Looney Tunes characters with midway through each episode, a spoof song leading you out to commercial break.
The fact that Jeff Bergman voices Bugs AND Daffy, plus most of the other characters on the show makes it all the more fascinating for me. He’s much like Billy West (there’s a name that deserves an IMDb link) in terms of being able to churn out so many individual, distinct voices for one show. Other talents to note, purely because they tweek my geek nerve, is Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc…), who voices Mac, half the gopher team of Mac and Tosh. Rob does an excellent job of pushing the duo into that zone of “are they gay or just Ernie and Bert-ing?” Also on the show is Maurice LaMarche (Brain, from Pinky and the Brain, Futurama) who expertly voices Yosemite Sam, drawing parallels with Ned Flanders – a crazy neighbour to Bugs and Daffy who the animators seem to delight in drawing him shirtless. And of course, Christian Wiig, playing a stalker/love interest to Bugs. She’s brilliant. I have no other words. Just watch:
The show surprised me last night, sealing my love for it utterly and forever. Yes, gone are the slapstick anvil-in-the-face comedy bits, the violence is still there. Daffy and Foghorn, as well as Bugs and Yosemite separately get into full on fist fights – and I mean unflinching fists into faces, something that I thought was pretty daring for a television cartoon nowadays. Seeing how history has all but incomprehensibly edited down the old cartoons to show no mention of violence, this was pretty startling to see.
And pretty damned funny.