Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

Tiny Toon Adventures, Season 1 Vol. 1

Only the first 32 (out of 65) first season shows of Tiny Toon Adventures are available from Netflix. I remember watching them at the time (fall 1990), from the first show on, though after the first week or so I didn't see them all in order. Still, my impression holds up: The first two episodes are brilliant, and I expected a lot. Alas, most of the other shows were merely good, with occasional brilliant bits. Some were better than others. However, Fields of Honey (ep. 30) blew me away, and remains my favorite.

Tiny Toons is produced by the same people who brought you Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall) and takes place in a similar universe. The cartoon characters know they're actors, know they're toons playing a role, and occasionally talk to the audience or complain about their agents. Some of the episodes play like The Mickey Mouse Club, and for roughly that age range.

The cartoon characters are second generation Warner Brothers, and most are modeled after familiar characters such as Bugs Bunny, or simply use the Warner Bros. characters. More on this later. The history will bounce off any kid, but doesn't get in the way. They all go to Acme Looniversity, though they're in Jr. High School, taking classes from the old time toons. Babs Bunny gives her age as 14 in the first episode. While they're pretty bland and sexless forms, the show takes on dating and school social interactions.

The Looney Beginning sets the tone for the series. Bugs Bunny rescues Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation) from the cartoonist's dustbin and draws Acme Acres for them to play in. Most of the toons and settings are introduced. The show was good but nothing special until Bugs convinces Buster to be the star of the show. (quotes from memory)

"I'll do it! I'll do it for the little people!" (he whirls around to be a small person)

"I'll do it for the big people!" (he transforms to a larger figure)

"I'll do it for the strange medium sized people with bad haircuts!" (he becomes a hulking dweeb)

It was at this point I knew I would like the show.

Later, when they're in Wackyland (based on my favorite of the older Warner directors, Bob Clampett), the old Warner logo is chasing the new Warner logo, trying to bop it with a mallet.

It was at this point I knew the show would be brilliant. Alas not all the time.

Fortunately for all involved, they decide to go ahead, and the cartoonist comes back to find a completed idea, which gets produced.

The second episode, A Quack In The Quarks, continues the utter destruction of the fourth wall, the remembrance of things past melding of past and present, and the major references to popular culture that your average eight year old wouldn't catch. As usual, the best cartoons are for adults.

Plucky Duck, the younger version of Daffy, is even more egotistical and self-promoting. As he's going on about his heroic deeds, two new students enter the classroom. Very quickly, we they reveal themselves to be from a planet that needs a hero, and kidnap Plucky.

Knowing that Plucky is full of hot air, the gang sets off to rescue their comrade. "To the Prop Department!" announces Buster, leading the way. The Prop. Dept. looks like the warehouse from the end of the first Indiana Jones . "It must be around here somewhere," says Buster. He digs until he gets to a large crate labelled "1953". They pry off the wood to reveal... the spaceship from Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century.

They pile into the ship and fly to the huge spaceship in orbit around the Planet where Plucky has been taken. Landing in the hold, they pile out amid other spaceships: Ships that look suspiciously like NCC-1701, Jupiter 2, various Ray Harryhousen models, and a Tardis. Most of the rest of the episode is a decent Star Wars homage. The villain is Duck Vader and Plucky learns a great lesson (which he forgets soon).

The series then spends a lot of time introducing the secondary characters. Most of these are no better than okay, though there are bright spots: Citizen Max, a pretty good homage to Citizen Kane, another Montana Max episode where he's stolen the gold nugget at the center of the Earth. (Montana Max is the next generation Yosemite Sam, keeping the nastiness and adding Richie Rich money.) Furrball, the unlucky cat, is stuck with some fleas. Gogo Dodo has some nice turns.

But my all-time favorite episode remains Fields of Honey. All the new toons have an older toon as their role model. Even the female toons. Buster looks up to Bugs Bunny. Hampton J. Pig admires Porky. Elmira is the flip side of Elmer Fudd. But Babs Bunny doesn't have a role model. None of the major Warner characters were female, and she's lonely.

They visit the Warner Brothers film archives, and encounter the Vault Keeper. Looking a little like the Time Trapper from LSH, he helps Babs in her search. After much film watching, she stumbles on old Bosko and Hney cartoons. Before Clampett came up with Warner's first hit character, Porky Pig, they had other toons including the blackfaced Bosko. In some cartoons, Bosko's girlfriend Honey appeared. I've seen a few of them: They're not really good and more than a little dated, but they shouldn't be forgotten.

Ah, but no one has seen Honey since the 1930s. Where can she find her mentor? An etherial spotlight comes on Babs, and a mysterious voice urges her to continue the quest. "I don't need to be Kevin Costner to take a hint," she says to the audience.

To make a long story short, Babs Bunny builds a movie theater then convinces her friends to come see Honey cartoons. An old lady toon, in black and white, comes to watch. She stands next to Babs, and as the audience laughs uproariously, she gets younger and younger to reveal Honey. "It's laughter which keeps us young!"

The Vault Keeper is revealed to be Bosko (and the source of the mysterious voice). The cartoon ends with a lesson about toons needing an audience. Funny and poignant, Fields of Honey brought a tear to my eyes, nearly twenty years later.

This episode served as a bridge to Animaniacs, apparently, as they sort of look like Bosko and Honey (but like dogs, not like blackfaced entertainers). Another reason to like it.

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