Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies (late 1962-1964)

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Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies (late 1962-1964)
LooneyTunes19621964.png
The swan song of the classic era of Looney Tunes winds up falling flat ever since William Lava took over as composer after Milt Franklyn's death.
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 6-8 Minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: September 22, 1962 –
August 1, 1964
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Cartoons
Starring: Mel Blanc
June Foray
Episodes: 31 Shorts


Even though most of the Looney Tunes shorts in the classic era has received positive reception, the shorts of late 1962 up to the closure of the original Termite Terrace studio in 1964, while not completely abysmal, received weaker reception compared to the earlier cartoons once William Lava took over as composer following Milt Franklyn's death in 1962, mainly due to weaker plots, lower quality animation, and William Lava's bland music scores, brought in as the result of the budget-cutting problems at the time.

This article will be talking about the shorts from "The Jet Cage" up to "Señorella and the Glass Huarache", with the sole exception of "Mother Was a Rooster".

Shorts

1962

  • "The Jet Cage" (Freleng; September 26; with Sylvester and Tweety)
  • "Good Noose" (McKimson; November 10; with Daffy Duck)
  • "Shishkabugs" (Freleng; December 8; with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam)
  • "Martian Through Georgia" (Jones; December 29; one-off)

1963

  • "I Was a Teenage Thumb" (Jones; January 19; one-off)
  • "Devil's Feud Cake" (Freleng; February 9; with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam; clip show short)
  • "Fast Buck Duck" (McKimson; March 9; with Daffy Duck)
  • "The Million Hare" (McKimson; April 6; with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck)
  • "Mexican Cat Dance" (Freleng; April 20; with Speedy Gonzales and Sylvester)
  • "Now Hear This" (Jones; April 27; one-off)
  • "Woolen Under Where" (Monroe; May 11; with Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf; last appearances of Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Hare-Breadth Hurry" (Jones; June 8; with Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote)
  • "Banty Raids" (McKimson; June 29; with Foghorn Leghorn and Barnyard Dawg; last appearance of Barnyard Dawg in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Chili Weather" (Freleng; August 17; with Speedy Gonzales and Sylvester)
  • "The Unmentionables" (Freleng; September 7; with Bugs Bunny and Rocky and Mugsy; last appearance of Rocky and Mugsy in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Aqua Duck" (McKimson; September 28; with Daffy Duck)
  • "Mad as a Mars Hare" (Jones; October 19; with Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian; last appearance of Marvin the Martian in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Claws in the Lease" (McKimson; November 9; with Sylvester and Sylvester Jr.)
  • "Transylvania 6-5000" (Jones; November 30; with Bugs Bunny)
  • "To Beep or Not to Beep" (Jones; December 28; with Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote; reuses footage from Adventures of the Roadrunner)

1964

  • "Dumb Patrol" (Chiniquy; January 18; with Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Porky Pig; last appearance of Yosemite Sam in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "A Message to Gracias" (McKimson; February 8; with Speedy Gonzales and Sylvester)
  • "Bartholomew Versus the Wheel" (McKimson; February 29; one-off)
  • "Freudy Cat" (McKimson; March 14; with Sylvester and Sylvester Jr.; last appearances of Sylvester Jr. and Hippety Hopper in Golden Age of Animation; clip show short)
  • "Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare" (McKimson; March 28; with Bugs Bunny and Tasmanian Devil; last appearance of Tasmanian Devil in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Nuts and Volts" (Freleng; April 25; with Speedy Gonzales and Sylvester)
  • "The Iceman Ducketh" (Monroe; May 16; with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck)
  • "War and Pieces" (Jones; June 6; with Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote; last short directed by Chuck Jones)
  • "Hawaiian Aye Aye" (Chiniquy; June 27; with Sylvester and Tweety; last appearance of Tweety in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "False Hare" (McKimson; July 16; with Bugs Bunny; last appearances of Bugs Bunny and Foghorn Leghorn in Golden Age of Animation)
  • "Señorella and the Glass Huarache" (Pratt; August 1; one-off; last cartoon in classic era)

Bad Qualities

  1. The writing in this era (especially those of Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson's cartoons) has gone from witty and clever into stale, repetitive and predictable, as John W. Dunn became the story writer for all three units.
  2. Due to the rise of television, there was little demand for theatrical animation, resulting in Warner Bros. tightening the budgets for the cartoons. Because of this, the quality of the animation has taken a considerable drop. While it doesn't look terrible, it's definitely not as good compared to earlier years. This is especially noticeable in the cartoons directed by Freleng, as they constantly recycle animation from previous cartoons, resulting in a mish-mash of older, better animation to the more linear, newer animation.
  3. Milt Franklyn died of a heart attack while producing the music for "The Jet Cage". William Lava served as his replacement for the later cartoons at this point (note that, in "The Jet Cage", half-way during the cartoon, there's an obvious change in the music score from Milt Franklyn to William Lava in a fade-out between two scenes of the cartoon). While he tries his best, most of the music he composed are too atonal, bombastic, or suspenseful which does not capture the feel of the cartoons that Carl Stalling or Franklyn were able to capture. Not helping the fact that Warner Bros. Cartoons started downsizing its studio orchestra following Milt Franklyn's death.
  4. Numerous bad cartoons scattered throughout this era, such as "Good Noose", "Mexican Cat Dance", "Devil's Feud Cake", "Freudy Cat", and "The Iceman Ducketh". Most others range from mediocre to forgettable at best. In fact, there were too many poor episodes from this era that once had their individual pages have been permanently deleted due to cluttering the wiki. They had been relocated to the Horrible TV Show Episodes Wiki before it was merged into this wiki (which was then called Terrible TV Shows Wiki).
  5. There are lots of mean-spirited moments on characters that often don't deserve it or does nothing wrong, such as Yosemite Sam getting executed at the end of "Shishkabugs", Sylvester constantly getting tortured by Speedy Gonzales in the bullfight arena for no reason whatsoever and ending up being burrowed to the ground into an unknown fate in "Mexican Cat Dance", and Wile E. Coyote constantly getting tortured by Bugs Bunny who stands in for the Road Runner in "Hare Breadth-Hurry" non-stop due to the latter constantly violating Chuck Jones' Road Runner rules (most notably the #1 rule stating that "The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by beeping").
  6. Many final Bugs Bunny cartoons produced during this era become a bit more one-sided by having Bugs easily defeat his foes without any effort due to him becoming more aware of their presence unlike the earlier cartoons, most notably in "Shishkabugs", "Hare-Breadth Hurry", and "The Iceman Ducketh".
  7. Flat background and character designs.
  8. Notably sluggish pacing and timing, causing most of the jokes in these cartoons to fall flat.
  9. While not as much as the 1964-1969 era, some of the cartoons' plots are mostly rehashes or watered-down rip-offs of previous cartoons:
    • "Shishkabugs" is a rip-off of the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Slick Hare".
    • "Fast Buck Duck" is a rip-off of the 1948 Daffy Duck cartoon "Daffy Dilly".
    • "I Was a Teenage Thumb" is a rehash of the 1940 cartoon "Tom Thumb in Trouble", done in a British style as opposed to a Disney style.
    • "Chili Weather" is a rip-off of the 1954 Goofy Gophers cartoon "I Gopher You".
    • "The Million Hare" is a rip-off of the 1959 Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoon "People Are Bunny".
    • "Mexican Cat Dance" is a rip-off of the 1953 Bugs Bunny short "Bully for Bugs", so much that it recycles the opening scene from said cartoon.
    • "Nuts and Volts" is a rip-off of the 1953 Bugs Bunny short "Robot Rabbit".
    • "Devil's Feud Cake" is a rip-off of the 1954 Sylvester/Tweety short "Satan's Waitin'", made up entirely from re-used and redubbed footage of "Hare Lift", "Roman Legion-Hare", "Sahara Hare", and even wrap-around segments from a Bugs Bunny Show TV episode.
  10. Chuck Jones was fired during 1962 for moonlighting on UPN's Gay Pur-ee, violating his exclusive contract with Warner Bros., and directorial duties of his two final works ("Woolen Under Where" and "The Iceman Ducketh") were handed over to his fellow animator Phil Monroe. However, this resulted in the writing for the two shorts to not have as much charm as Chuck Jones, most notoriously with "The Iceman Ducketh", which flanderizes Daffy Duck into a mean-spirited sadist similar to his characterization in the DePatie-Freleng and Seven Arts eras.
    • Before his firing in 1962, Chuck Jones at least managed to contribute as screenwriter and received onscreen credit as such for "Woolen Under Where", although this was not the case for "The Iceman Ducketh" which in contrast had no involvement at all from Chuck Jones himself.
    • On a side note, while Friz Freleng left for Hanna-Barbera in late-1962 and later was setting up for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in 1963, directorial duties of two shorts produced by his team ("Dumb Patrol" and "Hawaiian Aye-Aye") were handed over to one of Friz Freleng's fellow animator Gerry Chiniquy. Chiniquy's works on the shorts are rather weak compared to those of Freleng's and both ended the careers of Yosemite Sam and Tweety on a mediocre note.
  11. Many classic Looney Tunes characters (most notably Sylvester Jr. and Hippety Hopper, but other characters such as Yosemite Sam and Tweety were also victims of this) who were retired from the Golden Age era theatrical cartoons after this era ended their Golden Age era cartoon careers on either a sour or mediocre note.
  12. In a few cartoons produced during the late-1962 and early-1963 period such as "The Jet Cage", "Shishkabugs", "Devil's Feud Cake" and "Chili Weather", Mel Blanc gave an uncharacteristically flat and tired delivery in the voice-acting, which is the most noticeable in Yosemite Sam, who hardly ever raises his voice in both "Shishkabugs" and "Devil's Feud Cake". This could probably be because at the time these cartoons were produced Mel Blanc recorded the voices while he was still recovering from the car accident he had in January 24, 1961. Despite the rather rather flat and tired delivery in the voice-acting in those affected cartoons, Blanc's voice-acting in those shorts were passable at best.

Good Qualities

  1. There are still plenty of great shorts from this era (especially from Chuck Jones), such as "Now Hear This", "To Beep or Not to Beep" (despite using reused footage from Adventures of the Road-Runner), "War and Pieces" (which ended Chuck Jones's career on a high note), "Transylvania 6-5000", "The Unmentionables", "Woolen Under Where", "The Million Hare", "Banty Raids", "Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare", "False Hare", "Bartholomew Versus the Wheel" and "Señorella and the Glass Huarache" (which ended this era on a high note).
    • In addition, there are also some moderate, very average shorts or guilty pleasures that are watchable as well, such as "Aqua Duck" (which was also restored on MeTV's Toon in with Me), "Mad as a Mars Hare", and to a lesser extent, "Martian Through Georgia" and "Claws in the Lease".
    • Likewise, while they are not the best shorts, "I Was a Teenage Thumb", "Fast Buck Duck", "Dumb Patrol", "A Message to Gracias" and "Nuts and Volts" are still watchable at best, even if they are forgettable shorts, or are rehashes of old or early works.
  2. The animation (while mediocre on Freleng's and McKimson's ends) and music are still better than in the following era.
  3. Excellent voice acting from Mel Blanc, as always, except for a few exceptions such as "The Jet Cage", "Shishkabugs", "Devil's Feud Cake" and "Chili Weather".
  4. Some of William Lava's music actually fits certain scenes, most notably in the one-shot cartoons such as "Señorella and the Glass Huarache".
  5. Milt Franklyn's 1955 compositions of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies opening and closing theme music is still used in the opening and closings.

Reception

Notable cartoon critic Trevor Thompson (a.k.a. Ferris Wheelhouse) deemed this era as the downfall of the Looney Tunes series instead of the 1964-1969 era, declaring that these cartoons are when the writing started to show little care and criticized the music in the era, despite also having a warm reception with a few cartoons in this era such as "Señorella and the Glass Huarache".

Trivia

  • The much-maligned "Abstract WB" intro associated with the cartoons from the mid-to-late 60s actually saw its first use in this era; the intro was used for the shorts "Now Hear This", "Bartholomew Versus the Wheel", and "Señorella and the Glass Huarache". Ironically, all three of these cartoons are well-received, with "Now Hear This" being the last Looney Tunes short to be nominated for the Academy Awards.
  • All shorts in this era have been restored as of currently except for "Good Noose", "I Was a Teenage Thumb", and "Mexican Cat Dance" (the first two may come for HBO Max while "Mexican Cat Dance" might appear sometime in the future on MeTV).
  • The short "Dumb Patrol" shares its name with a 1931 Bosko cartoon.

Comments


avatar

Teenenin890

one month ago
Score 1
Please don't tell me you guys are going to talk about "Aqua Duck", are you? That short was a bit likeable in my opinion. If you guys are, at least put it under "Average Shows", please?

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