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Tiny Toon Adventures

Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures (also known as Tiny Toon Adventures or Tiny Toons) is an American animated series created and produced as a collaborative effort between Steven Spielberg's company Amblin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. Tiny Toon Adventures began production when Warner Bros. reinstated its animation studio in 1980 after a decade of dormancy. During the 1980s, the new studio only worked on revivals of the classic characters. Tiny Toons was the first of many animated series from the studio. A major precedent for the series was the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which featured appearances by many of its famous cartoon characters, and was co-produced by Amblin Entertainment. Tiny Toon Adventures premiered in as a syndicated cartoon in 1990. In the third season the show was licensed exclusively to Fox Kids and later Kids WB. It ended production in 1995, then began airing in reruns on Nickelodeon.

Background

Premise

Tiny Toon Adventures is set in the fictional city of Acme Acres, where most of the Tiny Toons and Looney Tunes characters live. Most of the Tiny Toon Adventures' characters attend Acme Looniversity, a high school/university whose faculty primarily consists of the mainstays of the classic Warner cartoons. In the series, the university was founded to teach cartoon characters how to become funny, with graduates receiving a "Diploma of Lunacy", giving them the opportunity to become full-time cartoon characters. Bugs Bunny teaches the "Outsmarting Antagonists" class; Porky Pig teaches "Wild Takes"; Yosemite Sam teaches "Firearms", "Exploding Cakes", and "Anvilology" (the study of falling anvils for comic effect); Sylvester and Tweety both teach "Villain Whomping"; Daffy Duck teaches "Spotlight Stealing" and "Advanced Wild Takes"; and Elmer Fudd teaches "Booby Traps" and "Fudd-ology". The principal of the Acme Looniversity is a giant floating head like the one in The Wizard of Oz, voiced by Noel Blanc (son of Mel Blanc), but was revealed to be Bugs Bunny in disguise. Wile E. Coyote is the dean at the Looniversity's School of Hard Knocks and teaches "Anvil Dropping" (along with Foghorn Leghorn).

Characters

The series revolved around a group of young cartoon characters learning at Acme Looniversity to be the next generation of Looney Tunes characters. Most of the Tiny Toons characters were designed to resemble younger versions of Warner Bros.' most popular Looney Tunes stars by exhibiting similar traits and looks, but not actually being the characters themselves.

Main characters:

In some ways, both Buster and Babs Bunny can be said to be modeled after Bugs Bunny, with each having taken on different aspects of the original character's personality. Buster, for example, normally shares Bugs' coolness under fire and laid-back attitude until provoked; Babs, on the other hand, displays more of Bugs' earlier, "wackier" personality, along with his flair for confounding enemies (and friends) with quick costume changes and impersonations. That being said, it's generally accepted that Babs is essentially an original character, created specifically as a counterpart for Buster in keeping with what was then a general trend in animation towards having more and/or stronger female characters in kids' TV shows, rather than being specifically based on any particular member of the Looney Tunes cast.

Major characters:

  • Plucky Duck, an egotistical green duck modeled after Daffy Duck. He is best friends with Hamton and often gets them into trouble. He is voiced by Joe Alaskey.
  • Hamton J. Pig, a cleanliness-obsessed pig molded after Porky Pig. He wears overalls and has a friendly disposition. He is voiced by Don Messick.
  • Elmyra Duff, a clueless redheaded girl loosely modeled after Elmer Fudd. She is an animal's worst nightmare as she likes to 'squeeze and hug them to death'. She chases the 'bunnies' or 'hippity-hops'(what she calls Buster and Babs) around a lot and has a crush on Montana Max. She is voiced by Cree Summer.
  • Montana Max, a bad-tempered money-hungry tycoon loosely based on Yosemite Sam. He is voiced by Danny Cooksey.
  • Fifi La Fume, a romantic, french accented, purple-and-white girl skunk, modeled after Pepé Le Pew. Fifi sometimes acts as Hamton's girlfriend. She is best friends with Shirley and Babs. She is voiced by Kath Soucie.
  • Shirley the Loon, a spiritual New Age waterbird with a Valley Girl accent. Her appearance is slightly deviated from Melissa Duck. Also a reference to Shirley MacLaine. Shirley has a secret crush on Plucky but refuses to go out with him until he learns to care about others before himself. She is voiced by Gail Matthius.
  • Furrball, a blue kitten version of Sylvester. Furrball is very unlucky, falling victim to many cruel situations, including ones he created himself. He is voiced by Frank Welker.
  • Dizzy Devil, a purple furred junior Taz with a beanie hat.He is voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
  • Gogo Dodo, a character based on the original Yoyo Dodo from Porky in Wackyland, a theatrical Looney Tunes release directed by Bob Clampett. Gogo is the only Acme Looniversity alumnus who is a direct descendant of a classic Looney Tunes character. He is voiced by Frank Welker.

Supporting characters:

Production

Writers

The series and the show's characters were developed by series producer, head writer and cartoonist Tom Ruegger, division leader Jean MacCurdy, associate producer and artist Alfred Gimeno and story editor/writer Wayne Kaatz. Among the first writers on the series were Jim Reardon, Tom Minton, and Eddie Fitzgerald. The character and scenery designers included Alfred Gimeno, Ken Boyer, Dan Haskett, Karen Haskett, and many other artists and directors.

Voicing

The Tiny Toon Adventures voice caster Andrea Romano auditioned over 1,200 voices for the series and chose a more than a dozen main voice actors. The role of Buster Bunny was given to Charles Adler, who gave the role, as producer Tom Ruegger said, "a great deal of energy". The role of Babs Bunny was given to Tress MacNeille. Writer Paul Dini said that MacNeille was good for the role because she could do both Babs' voice and the voices of Babs' impressions. Voice actors Joe Alaskey and Don Messick were given the roles of Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig, respectively. Danny Cooksey played Montana Max and, according to Paul Dini, was good for the role because he could do a "tremendous mean voice" (Cooksey was also the only actor in the cast to be a child/teenager, while the rest of the cast were adults doing child/teen like voices). Cree Summer played the roles of Elmyra Duff and Mary Melody; former Saturday Night Live cast member Gail Matthius played Shirley the Loon; and Kath Soucie had the roles of Fifi La Fume and Li'l Sneezer. Other actors for the series included Maurice LaMarche as the voice of Dizzy Devil; Candi Milo as the voice of Sweetie Pie, Frank Welker as the voice of Gogo Dodo, Furrball, Calamity Coyote, Little Beeper, Barky Marky, Byron Basset, and other various voices; and Rob Paulsen as the voice of Fowlmouth, Arnold the Pit Bull, Concord Condor, and other various voices.

During production of the series' third season, Charlie Adler, the voice of Buster Bunny, left the show due to a conflict with the producers; Adler was upset that he hadn't landed a role in the new show Animaniacs (the follow-up to Tiny Toons), and that small-role voice actors like Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, and Frank Welker were given starring roles in Animaniacs (even though Welker was a veteran voice actor by that point whose other influential credits included Scooby Doo, The Transformers, Garfield and Friends, GI Joe, and The Real Ghostbusters, while Paulsen and LaMarche easily matched Adler in terms of voice acting experience.). Adler was replaced by John Kassir for the remainder of the show's run. Joe Alaskey, the voice of Plucky Duck, also left Tiny Toons for financial reasons, but returned when an agreement was reached with the studio.

Guest voice actors included Henny Youngman as a chicken version of himself; Edie McClurg as Hamton's mother Winnie Pig; Jonathan Winters as Hamton's dad Wade Pig; and Julie Brown as Julie Bruin.

Animation

In order to complete 65 episodes for the first season, Warner and Amblin contracted several different animation houses to share the workload. These animation studios included Tokyo Movie Shinsha, Wang Film Productions, AKOM, Freelance Animators New Zealand, Encore Cartoons, StarToons, and Kennedy Cartoons. Kennedy Cartoons left the project while working on the episode, "The Looney Beginning".

Tiny Toon Adventures was made with a higher production value than standard television animation. Tiny Toon Adventures had a cel count that was more than double that of most television animation. The series had about 25,000 cels per episode instead of the standard 10,000, making it unique in that characters moved more fluidly. Pierre De Celles, an animation producer, described storyboarding for the series as "fun but a big challenge because [he] always had a short schedule, and it's not always easy to work full blast nonstop". De Celles said that he made six or eight panels per scene instead of the usual three or four since the show required "a lot more key expression and attitude poses".

Hallmarks and humor

The show often contained political and entertainment satire. Caricature versions of celebrities made frequent appearances, though were almost always voiced by imitators, and often appeared under parody names ("Tom Snooze" instead of Tom Cruise, "Michael Molten-Lava"instead of Michael Bolton, etc). The show also parodied other TV shows and cartoons of the day, including The Simpsons. A recurring parody was that of the Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs, which poked fun at the popular cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the "Buster Bunny Bunch" spoofing the then-newly revived Mickey Mouse Club. These tactics would later be copied by the show's successor, Animaniacs.

Credits gag

At the end of an episode, the credits at the end of the show always closed with one or more characters appearing in the Warner Bros. rings and saying a closing line. Among these lines were:

  • Buster Bunny: "Say good night, Babs."
    Babs Bunny: "Good night, Babs!"
    (This is an homage to The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.)
  • Babs and Buster Bunny: {simultaneously} "Alooooooo-ha!"
  • Buster Bunny: "And that's a wrap!"
  • Plucky Duck: "Parting is such sweet sorrow!"
  • Baby Plucky Duck: (sucks his thumb, takes it out and says) "I wanna flush it again!" (continue to suck his thumb)
  • Fifi Le Fume: "Au revoir, mon petite potato du couch!"
  • Byron Basset: "Woof!"
  • Gogo Dodo: "It's been surreal!" (before pulling out a remote control and hitting a button, turning off the show, this was complete with an iris out effect)
  • Elmyra Duff: "Let the show begin!"
  • Dizzy Devil: "Show over!" {spins around devouring the logo}
  • Furrball: "RRRROOOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRR! Meow!" (Homage to the famous MGM lion opening sequence - coincidentally, WB now owns the pre-1986 MGM library)

In addition, a humorous message would appear among the credits shortly before the closing quote. This running gag would turn up in the later shows Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, Freakazoid!, and Histeria!

Films and television specials

One feature-length Tiny Toon Adventures movie was released direct-to-video in 1991, entitled Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation. This special was re-edited for syndication and airs as part of the original series. Other features released for Tiny Toon Adventures include Spring Break Special, It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special, and Night Ghoulery. Spring Break Special was shown on FOX during primetime on March 27, 1994. Christmas Special aired on December 6, 1992.

Spin-offs

In 1992, The Plucky Duck Show was produced as a spin-off of Tiny Toon Adventures that starred Plucky Duck for Fox Kids. Except for the premiere (The Return of Batduck), the show was entirely made up of recycled Plucky-centric episodes from the Tiny Toons. Though 13 episodes were produced, only half of the episodes aired as production of the series was quickly aborted when Fox acquired exclusive rights to the show's third season.

Towards the end of the show's run, several spin-off "stealth pilots" were conceived featuring the characters of Elmyra, Furball, and a family of fleas that lived on Furball. In particular, several episodes were produced that focused upon Elmyra's family. These episodes contradicted earlier episodes that portrayed Elmyra as both an only child as well as her parents, who were portrayed as causing much of Elmyra's personality problems by way of treating her like an infant, despite being ten years old.

Elmyra would later go onto appear in Animaniacs, making cameo appearances and ultimately appearing as a patient of Dr. Scratchensniff.

In 1998 the spin-off Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain debuted on Kids WB. This short-lived series starred Elmyra alongside Animaniacs stars Pinky and the Brain, who were her new pets. The series once again ingored all previous portrayals of Elmyra's family and home life, which along with unpopularity of the network retooling one of its more popular shows, led to the series being cancelled after 13 episodes.

Response

Awards and nominations

Daytime Emmy Awards:
Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Ken Boyer, Art Leonardi, Art Vitello, Paul Dini, and Sherri Stoner) (1991)
Nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, Rich Arons, and Art Leonardi) (1992)
Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, Rich Arons, Byron Vaughns, Ken Boyer, Alfred Gimeno, and David West) (1993) Young Artist Awards:
Won award for Best New Cartoon Series (1989-1990)
Nominated for Outstanding Young Voice-Over in an Animated Series or Special (Whitby Hertford) (1991-1992) Environmental Media Awards:
Won EMA Award for Children's Animated series (for the episode Whales Tales) (1991)

Criticism

Tiny Toons has been heavily criticized by cartoonist and creator of The Ren and Stimpy Show John Kricfalusi. In a 1994 issue of Animation Magazine, Kricfalusi wrote a column about the series, calling it nothing more than "Superbastardization" of the original Looney Tunes characters, using "parasitism and other bad writing tricks until the premise becomes so twisted that it is beyond any coherent statement". Kricfalusi also criticized the improper use of the characters in the series, saying that "[e]very character is a 'comedy relief' character, even the ones who were originally straight-man characters[...] Glue an exceptionally unirreverent live-action director's name [Steven Spielberg] to it, then plug these stolen bastardization personalities into situations not suited for them. For example - into stolen movie plots. Then commit every single other bad writing crime known to man".

Tiny Toons director Jon McClenahan said that the people at Warner Bros. ignored Kricfalusi's criticism: "Nobody except John K's fans cared what John K thought. The thing about John K is, he's a really really talented guy who is also pretty good at hurling criticisms at others but unfortunately won't collaborate with anyone (...) Very few people at WB were Kricfalusi worshippers. Certainly none of the decision-makers".

Merchandise

Print

Among the same time that Tiny Toon Adventures premiered, a quarterly children's magazine based on the series was published for five issues. Also, various storybooks were published by the Little Golden Book company, including a few episode adaptations and some original stories (Lost in the Fun House and Happy Birthday, Babs!). Tiny Toon Adventures did not spin off its own comic book. However, the characters did make occasional cameo appearances in the Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain comic books.

Toys and video games

Since its debut, numerous video games based on Tiny Toons have been released. Many companies have held the development and publishing rights for the games, including Konami (during the 90s), Atari, NewKidCo, Conspiracy Games, Warthog, Terraglyph Interactive Studios, and Treasure. Toys for the series included plush dolls and plastic figures.

Home Video

In the early 90s, Warner Bros. had released several Tiny Toons videos, including Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, Best of Buster and Babs, Two Tone Town, Tiny Toon Big Adventures, Tiny Toon Island Adventures, Tiny Toon Adventures Music TV, and Tiny Toon Fiendishly Funny Adventures.

On July 29, 2008, Warner Home Video released Season 1, Volume 1 of Tiny Toon Adventures on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. This 4-disc set features the first 35 episodes of Season 1.

DVD name Ep # Release date Additional information
Season 1 Volume 1 35 July 29, 2008 This four disc box set contains the first 35 episodes from season one.
Season 1 Volume 2 30 TBA
Season 2 & 3 33 TBA

History

Preproduction

According to writer Paul Dini, Tiny Toons originated as an idea by Terry Semel, then the president of Warner Bros., who wanted to "(...) inject new life into the Warner Bros. Animation department," and at the same time create a series with junior versions of Looney Tunes characters. Semel proposed that the new series would be a show based on Looney Tunes where the characters were either young versions of the original Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters or new characters as the offsprings of the original characters. The idea of a series with the basis of younger versions of famous characters was common at the time; the era in which Tiny Toons was produced had such cartoons as Muppet Babies, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Flintstones Kids. Warner Bros. chose to do the same because Spielberg wanted to make a series similar to Looney Tunes, as series producer/show-runner Tom Ruegger explained: "Well, I think in Warner Bros. case, they had the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg on a project (...) But he didn't want to just work on characters that Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob McKimson and Bob Clampett made famous and created. He wanted to be involved with the creation of some new characters". The result was a series similar to Looney Tunes without the use of the same characters.

In 1987, the Warner Bros. Animation studio approached Steven Spielberg to collaborate with Semel and Warner Bros. head of licensing Dan Romanelli on Semel's ideas. They eventually decided that the new characters would be similar to the Looney Tunes characters with no direct relation. However, Tiny Toons did not go into production then, nor was it even planned to be made for television; the series initially was to be a theatrical feature-length film.

In December 1988, Tiny Toons was changed from a film to a television series, with Jean MacCurdy overseeing production of the first 65 episodes. MacCurdy said that Tiny Toons was changed to a television series to "(...) reach a broader audience". For the series, MacCurdy hired Tom Ruegger, who previously wrote cartoons for Filmation and Hanna-Barbera, to be a producer. In January of 1989, Ruegger and writer Wayne Kaatz began developing the characters and the setting of "Acme Acres" with Spielberg.

In January 1989, Warner Bros. Animation was choosing its voice actors from over 1,200 auditions and putting together its 100-person production staff. In April 1989, full production of series episodes began with five overseas animation houses and a total budget of 25 million dollars. The first 65 episodes of the series aired in syndication on 135 stations, beginning in September 1990..

Post-series syndication

Tiny Toon Adventures, along with Animaniacs, continued to rerun in syndication through the 1990s into the early-2000s after production of new episodes ceased. Tiny Toon Adventures aired in syndication on the WB’s sister network, Cartoon Network until Nickelodeon bought the rights to air the series for spring 2001. Tiny Toon Adventures does not currently air on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, or its sister network, Nicktoons Network. The series is scheduled to re-run on Warner Bros. and AOL's new broadband internet channel Toontopia TV.When Nickelodeon and Nicktoons Network aired the series they cut out the WB logo zooming out.

See also

References

Further reading

  • [TV Specials]. In The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (1999). Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. .
  • Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures [Television Series]. In The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (1999). Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. .

External links

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