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Looney Tunes (Larry Doyle era)

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Looney Tunes (Larry Doyle era)
LooneyTunes2003.png
Even Wile E. knew this revival would be a disaster, and that's after he survived the first dark age of the franchise.
Genre: Comedy
Slapstick
Running Time: 4-7 Minutes
Country: United States
South Korea (animation)
Release Date: November 1, 2003 –
November 2, 2004
Created by: Larry Doyle
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring: Jeff Bennett
Billy West
Joe Alaskey
Episodes: 7
Previous show: 1979-2000 era
Next show: Matthew O'Callaghan era (2010-14)


To help promote the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, a revival series of Looney Tunes shorts were planned for theatrical release in 2003 under the supervision of the film's writer Larry Doyle. About 7 shorts were produced and completed during this period, which was all produced by Larry Doyle's team except for "Daffy Duck for President", which was instead produced by the Spike Brandt-Tony Cervone team (best known for producing the Looney Tunes TV series Duck Dodgers and The Looney Tunes Show). These shorts are sometimes referred to by fans as the Larry Doyle Era.

Due to the financial failure of the film despite its positive critical and audience reception, however, production on the shorts was shelved shortly afterward while the completed ones were released direct-to-video. The shorts from this era, in general, were criticized by both fans and audiences for their lack of faithfulness to the source material and their overall darker, more violent tone compared to the cartoons of the classic era.

Shorts

2003

  • "Whizzard of Ow" (Haaland; November 1; with Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote)
  • "Museum Scream" (Povenmire; November 14; with Sylvester and Tweety; originally intended to premiere with Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed)

2004

  • "Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas" (Shin/Kopp; March 31; with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam; originally intended to premiere with The Polar Express)
  • "Attack of the Drones" (Moore; March 31; with Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers; originally intended to premiere with New York Minute)
  • "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" (Shin; March 31; with Foghorn Leghorn; originally intended to premiere with Clifford's Really Big Movie)
  • "My Generation G...G... Gap" (Povenmire; March 31; with Porky Pig; originally intended to premiere with A Cinderella Story)
  • "Daffy Duck for President" (Brandt/Cervone; November 2; with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck)

Cancelled

  • "The Pig Stays in the Picture" (with Porky Pig)
  • "A Very Daffy Christmas" (with Daffy Duck)
  • "Executive Tweet" (with Sylvester and Tweety)
  • "What's Hip, Doc?" (with Bugs Bunny)
  • "Full Metal Jackass" (with Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner)
  • "Bada Bugs" (with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Rocky and Mugsy)
  • "Slacker Quacker" (with Porky Pig and Daffy Duck)
  • "Scheme Park" (with Porky Pig)
  • "Beach Bunny" (with Bugs Bunny)
  • "Meat Me in Chicago" (one-off Merrie Melodies)
  • "Deep Sea Bugs" (with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam)
  • "Baseball Taz" (with Tasmanian Devil)
  • "Dancing Pepe" (with Pepé Le Pew)
  • "Daffy Contractor" (with Porky Pig and Daffy Duck)
  • "Reaper Madness" (with Granny)
  • "Duck Suped" (with Daffy Duck)
  • "Guess Who's Coming to Meet the Parents" (with Bugs Bunny)

Why This Era Is Anything but "Looney"

  1. These shorts generally lack a lot of the wit, charm, and humor of the classic era, or even the revival era shorts from the late-1980s and 1990s decade.
  2. Poor grasp of the source material: Producer Larry Doyle actually intended for the cartoons to be more faithful to the spirit of the original Looney Tunes cartoons, but unfortunately, most of Larry Doyle's crew for these cartoons, like Dan Povenmire, have never seen any of the original Looney Tunes cartoons at all, explaining the many changes that make the shorts from this era less faithful to the original series.
  3. The animation of the shorts, while decent, is rather off at times compared to the original shorts. It also suffers heavily from overly-bright colors.
    • Sometimes, the animation drags out for too long, making the pacing rather slow to the point where it kills the shorts' comedic timing.
  4. The WB shield used in the opening bullseye titles looks incredibly cheap and ugly, so is the "WARNER BROS. PICTURES PRESENTS" banner in the WB shield sequence, which is rendered in very poor, ugly-looking typography.
  5. Much like Herman and Katnip and the Gene Deitch era of Tom and Jerry, these shorts rely more on gratuitous over-the-top violence than slapstick unlike the original shorts, as well as that the shorts' tone is also darker, more serious and sadistic than the classic shorts or even the DePatie-Freleng or Seven Arts shorts, which contradicts the series' main comedic and laid-back tone.
    • "Museum Scream" has a brutal ending in which Sylvester's nine lives all explode into fireworks as Tweety counts down the nine spirits.
    • "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" has an extremely brutal ending where Foghorn outright KILLS the genetically-engineered rooster by sling-shooting a piece of hot coal into the genetically-engineered rooster's mouth as he crows, resulting all the corn the genetically-engineered rooster previously ate to repetitively pop in his belly non-stop until he explodes into popcorn, with the only remains of him left being his feet. WE KID YOU NOT. Worse, this ending is supposed to be a happy ending, as suggested by the joyous music playing in the back, but instead comes off as sickening.
      • The classic era (especially those cartoons directed by Bob Clampett from 1942-1946, and even the World War II cartoons) may have had its violent moments, but it never went this far.
      • The only short that didn't use any gratuitous over-the-top violence is "Daffy Duck for President".
  6. Rather weak writing, especially in "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" and "My Generation G...G... Gap".
  7. While it doesn’t happen as much as in the 1962-1969 eras, some of the plots of the cartoons by Larry Doyle are mostly rehashes or watered-down copies of previous cartoons:
    • "Whizzard of Ow" is a rehash of the 1966 Road Runner cartoon "Sugar and Spies", albeit with the spy kit replaced with an ACME magic book.
    • "Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas" rehashes elements from the Bugs Bunny cartoons "The Fair-Haired Hare" (1951), "14 Carrot Rabbit" (1952) and "Barbary-Coast Bunny" (1956) respectively, as well as the entire casino scene involving Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which the latter was also in production at the time these cartoons were made.
    • "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" is a rehash of the 1956 Foghorn Leghorn cartoon "Raw! Raw! Rooster" and the 1944 Porky Pig cartoon "Swooner Crooner" but with all of the charm and cleverness those two shorts had swapped out completely in favor of gratuitous over-the-top violence and trying too hard to be hip and cool to appeal to the modern demographic. About the latter instance, both Foghorn and the genetically-engineered rooster have a dance battle to compete for the hens' attention, with Foghorn doing the old-school chicken dance and the genetically-engineered rooster dancing to "Get Ready For This" by 2Unlimited which was previously heard in the movie Space Jam.
  8. Other classic Looney Tunes characters such as Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Taz, etc. are nowhere to be seen in any of these shorts (though this can be justified by the fact that production on the shorts was shut down before there could be any featuring them).
  9. Both Porky Pig and Daffy Duck have both been flanderized in these shorts:
    • Porky is depicted as an unlikable jerk who seeks to get whatever he desires without any consideration for others instead of the sweet-natured and innocent stuttering pig he was in previous cartoons; for instance, in "My Generation G...G... Gap", he ruins a band concert just because he didn't want his daughter, Peta, to see the band.
    • Daffy is depicted as a much bigger idiot than he was before; for instance, in "Attack of the Drones", he remains incredibly oblivious to the chaos his robot replicas caused as the result of his arrogance and narcissism. At least he isn't miscast in a villainous role unlike the series' first dark age in the 1960s.
    • Much like the Larriva Eleven, "Whizzard of Ow" breaks veteran Looney Tunes animator Chuck Jones' Road Runner rules and guidelines where Road Runner is never allowed to harm Wile E. Coyote outside of beeping. In this case, Road Runner uses magic against Wile E. to transmogrify his Pegasus into a shark in the ending.
  10. The voice acting, while also decent, is notably off compared to Mel Blanc and some of his successors.
    1. For instance, Billy West does a very poor job voicing both Porky Pig and Tweety in "My Generation G...G... Gap" and "Museum Scream" respectively, lacking the genuine charm Mel Blanc and his successors brought to these two characters.
  11. The pacing is all over the place for the shorts; sometimes it's too slow as depicted in "Whizzard of Ow" or otherwise too fast as depicted in "Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas".
  12. Much like the 1964-1949 era, with the notable exception of "Daffy Duck for President", these cartoons have logic that make no sense, even by Looney Tunes standards. An example is in "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" where Foghorn, whom is a male rooster, actually ends up laying an egg because of the genetically-engineered rooster dancing to "Get Ready For This" by 2Unlimited shoves his butt in Foghorn's face.
  13. "My Generation G...G... Gap" is nothing more than a very harsh Porky Pig torture short, as Porky gets repetitively abused for no reason whatsoever. This is one of the main reasons why "My Generation G...G... Gap" is widely considered to be the worst of all the seven cartoons of this era.
    • In addition to its weak writing and mean-spirited gags, this short also tries too hard to be hip and cool to appeal to the modern demographic.
    • Porky's daughter, Peta Pig, who appears only in this short, is nothing more than a “bratty teenage daughter” stereotype.
  14. While this isn't much of a problem, "Daffy Duck for President" is too short as it only clocks in at 4 minutes and 31 seconds, making it shorter than the other shorts from this era.
  15. The negative reception of these shorts (as well as the box office failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action) had potentially killed any chances of Looney Tunes returning for anymore 2D-animated theatrical shorts, as there haven't been any further traditionally-animated Looney Tunes shorts produced for the theatrical market ever since. In addition, this caused the Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon series to go into hiatus until the new CGI-animated Looney Tunes shorts supervised by Matthew O' Callaghan (which were far superior to these shorts) later came out in 2010 beginning with "Coyote Falls" (meanwhile between 2004-2009, the Looney Tunes franchise went downhill greatly due to the release of the widely panned Loonatics Unleashed, with the direct-to-video film Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas being the only good/decent Looney Tunes production from that brief period).
  16. While Walter Murphy's musical score for these shorts is well done, it isn't as powerful as the classic era's Carl Stalling or Milt Franklyn, or even their modern-day successors such as Hummie Mann (who scored music for "Box Office Bunny"), George Dougherty and Cameron Patrick (who both scored music for the Chuck Jones-produced cartoons such as "Chariots of Fur") or the late Richard Stone (who scored music for "Carrotblanca", "Little Go Beep", and various Looney Tunes TV spin-offs of the 1990s such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries), It sounds more like the music you'd hear at the end of a Family Guy episode (ironically, Walter Murphy was also working on the music for that show).

Redeeming Qualities

  1. "Attack of the Drones" and "Daffy Duck for President" (which ended this era on a high note) are the only good shorts from this era, while "Whizzard of Ow" (which started this era on a good note) and "Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas" are decent.
    1. Speaking of "Daffy Duck for President", which is based on the 1997 book of the same name by Jones (who died two years before the short was made), it is very faithful to the book it is based on, as well having the highest animation quality compared to the rest of the shorts thanks to it being animated by the more experienced Spike Brandt-Tony Cervone team instead of the Larry Doyle team.
  2. Jeff Bennett's voice acting as Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, and Daffy Duck is passable, and he does a decent job voicing them.
    1. June Foray also reprises her role as Granny in "Museum Scream".
    2. Joe Alaskey also does a great job voicing both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (albeit he voiced the latter only in "Daffy Duck for President").
  3. Two of the shorts from this era have some educational moments:
    1. "Whizzard of Ow" is notable for being the first (and so far, only) Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner short that uses the actual taxonomic names for the two characters (Geococcyx californianus and Canis latrans for the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote respectively) instead of the usual pseudo-Latin names, which is a nice change.
    2. "Museum Scream" features a scene in which Sylvester is swallowed by an animatronic human body that narrates the digestive system perfectly as Sylvester is going down inside it.
  4. As mentioned above, the musical score for these shorts composed by Walter Murphy (except for "Whizzard of Ow", which was instead composed by John Frizzell) is beautifully well done.
  5. This was the first attempt to produce new Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon shorts in widescreen aspect ratio, as well as using digital ink-and-paint animation (courtesy of Rough Draft Studios) as opposed to traditional cel animation used in the classic shorts. As mentioned above, the animation still looks beautiful, despite the flaws that it may present.
  6. Each of these shorts (with the notable exception of "Daffy Duck for President") end with Porky Pig saying his signature line "Th-th-th-that's all, folks!" at the ending title sequence, which is a nice nod to the Porky drum ending titles used in the classic Looney Tunes shorts from the late-1930s to the mid-1940s.
  7. The Looney Tunes CGI animated shorts produced by Matthew O'Callaghan in the early 2010s are a massive improvement over these dreaded shorts.

Reception

The shorts of the Larry Doyle Era received criticism from both Looney Tunes fans and audiences compared to the classic shorts due to their darker and more sadistic and violent tone/atmosphere. According to Bob Bergen (the voice of Porky Pig), he was intending to quit on the shorts until he realized he was fired. The box office failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action prevented the shorts from properly airing in theaters and the revival series overall was canceled until the arrival of the Matthew O'Callighan era (2010-2014) after various Warner Bros. executives disliked Larry Doyle.

In addition to the seven cartoons listed above, there were several new Looney Tunes shorts (as well as new Tom and Jerry shorts) planned and storyboarded in 2003 but were all canceled due to the reasons mentioned above. Most of the canceled Looney Tunes shorts were in production under the supervision of Larry Doyle. The Tom and Jerry shorts would also not be released to the general public until 2006 when they aired on television as episodes of Tom and Jerry Tales.

Comments

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