As a guest on the late Tom Snyder’s talk show, Chuck Jones (a founding father of the Looney Tunes and the modern animation industry as we recognize it) was asked to comment on the new Warner Bros animated series, “Tiny Toon Adventures“; a successor to the classic Looney Tunes franchise. Chuck Jones replied, “If you had a retarded stepchild in your family, would you comment on it publically?”
Revisiting the series twenty years later, perhaps “retarded” is a bit extreme. I’d definitely say that the series has a crippling learning disability, though.
The result is a show that is constantly at war with itself. It desperately wants to be smarter and sharper and more risqué than it is, with flashes of absolute brilliance beaming through every now and then, and being so genuinely funny that these flashes tend to be the only part of the show that sticks with you into adulthood. Which is probably why you recall it being so much better than it ever was; you only remember the good times. The reality, though, was that for every gut-bustingly hilarious “Batduck” episode, you had to suffer through some out of touch, cynical old hack recycling scripts from 30 year-old Auggie Doggie shorts; shoveling the same boring, tired, clichéd garbage that Hanna Barbara was passing off as “funny” in the ‘60s. And with three stories per episode, the series is absolutely packed with this kind of paint-by-numbers, dull-witted and predictable “humor”. If even one of the three stories turned out to be clever, you were about as close as you’d ever be to walking away from an episode on top.