Judge Clark Douglas is determined to make himself relevant for a new generation.
Four tunerific new episodes from the hilarious new show!
If I were to ask you if you're a fan of the Looney Tunes characters, odds are reasonably high that you'd reply in the affirmative. The colorful animated characters have been a beloved part of pop culture for many years, and I expect that Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will continue to be household names for a long time to come. However, the primary reason they remain beloved is because the vintage cartoons featuring them continue to hold up quite well (and are still heavily-promoted on DVD, despite a reduced television presence). Warner Bros. has made countless attempts at re-inventing the characters and re-introducing them to a new generation, but most of the attempts thus far have been mediocre at best. Let us pause and recall Taz-Mania, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Tiny Toon Adventures, Space Jam, Baby Looney Tunes, Duck Dodgers, Loonatics Unleashed, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (actually, that one was pretty good). So, it's not really a surprise to learn that the characters have been re-vamped once again for a new half-hour show.
The Looney Tunes Show is essentially an animated sitcom featuring Bugs and Daffy as its primary characters. The two live together in an ordinary suburban neighborhood. Yosimite Sam and Porky Pig are neighbors, while Elmer Fudd is a beloved television newscaster. Over the course of the four episodes included in this set, Bugs and Daffy find themselves in a series of comic misadventures. "Best Friends" has them appearing on a gameshow together and testing their knowledge of each other (Daffy doesn't know much about Bugs, which causes an emotional rift between the pair), "Members Only" has Daffy sneaking into a country club and Bugs striking up a romance with Lola Bunny, "Jailbird and Jailbunny" sends the pair to prison after Daffy gets caught littering and "Fish and Visitors" features Yosimite Sam as the world's most annoying houseguest.
There will undoubtedly be many who will be predisposed to hate the show simply because of what it is. Whatever its flaws or virtues, The Looney Tunes Show is pretty far removed from the original shorts that made these characters popular. The personalities have been tinkered with a bit (or in some cases, altered completely), wild slapstick has mostly been replaced with gentle verbal jokes and fiendishly inventive physical comedy has been replaced with standard-issue sitcom plotting. It's a violation of the original characters and their world. While it could be argued that the Bugs/Daffy dynamic isn't entirely dissimilar to the one between Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, that doesn't mean that Bugs and Daffy should be starring in their own animated, G-rated variation on Seinfeld.
Still, it's important to observe the show for what it is rather than for what we wish it were. What we have is a perfectly ordinary, run-of-the-mill sitcom that is nowhere close to being the best or worst the format has to offer. The plots are predictable in an Everybody Loves Raymond sort of way and the humor tends to be inoffensively smile-inducing. Bugs and Daffy have both been softened a great deal, which makes them less memorable but modestly more relatable (Bugs' self-absorbed ego rarely pops up, while Daffy tends to be mildly irritated rather than filled with rage most of the time). It's not a terrible endeavor, but it might have been more aptly-titled The Reasonably Well-Adjusted Tunes Show.
The best parts of the program are elements hanging around the edges. The most delightfully surprising character alteration is the one performed on Lola Bunny, who is nothing like the flat character she was in Space Jam. She's been transformed into a chatty stalker of sorts whose beauty masks a relentlessly neurotic personality. As voiced by Kristen Wiig, she's easily the funniest thing about these first four episodes (alas, she only appears in one of them). The cameo appearances by other popular characters are handled a little more smoothly than the transformation of Bugs and Daffy, and a number of enjoyable sight gags are littered throughout the episodes (one involving a fish is particularly spot-on). Best of all are the weird, all-too-brief little "Merry Melodies" musical interludes which interrupt each episode. Playing like a combination of a Lonely Island digital short and Veggietales' "Silly Songs with Larry" segments, the pieces are strangely energetic enough to be worthy of applause. I imagine some will cringe at this oddball material (Elmer Fudd serenading a grilled cheese sandwich, Yosimite Sam doing a hip-hop tune called "Blow My Stack," etc.), but it worked for me.
The Looney Tunes Show: Season One, Volume One arrives on DVD sporting a handsome transfer. Detail is excellent throughout (though the animation is a little spotty at times, particularly during a CG Road Runner segment), colors are vibrant and blacks are nice and deep. Audio is also solid, though the music and sound design are far removed from the chaos of the original shorts. There are some wacky sound effects here and there, but not many. Again, don't expect anything dramatically different from what you'd get from a standard sitcom (save for a full-season DVD set—I'm not really a big fan of these cash-grab "volume" releases). There are no extras included.
I can't really say I'm a big fan of The Looney Tunes Show yet, but these four episodes offer just enough hints of promise and invention to suggest that the series could become worthwhile if some fine-tuning is done. After all, many shows take a few episodes to really get cooking, and this DVD only offers the first four. Let's put this one in the "wait and see" category for now.
Not guilty, with many reservations.
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