This review is an exercise in pure laziness and crass curiosity.
By Paul Mavis
Okay. My editor is breathing down my neck for copy, but I’ve been laid up, so on my deathbed—on my deathbed, Jason—I did what any crafty, survive-at-all-cost writer does: I searched around for one of my old pieces in the hopes of tweaking it a bit, and passing it off as something new. And a 2007 review of Baby Looney Tunes Volume 3: Puddle Olympics seemed perfect.
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“Why?” you may query as you quickly scroll your phone to the next cat video. It certainly doesn’t seem like a title that would be relevant to a site monikered “Drunk TV.” Precisely. It’s not. However, and I’m ashamed to admit this: my 2007 review of Baby Looney Tunes Volume 3: Puddle Olympics is the single-biggest hit-generating review I ever wrote for that other verkakte DVD site. Hands down most successful. Something ridiculous like a half-million views the last time I was able to check. And nobody had any idea why (my theory: pervs of an entirely different bent Googling “puddle Olympics.” Freaks).
So…killing two birds with one stone: my editor is cool with something “new” to post, and we get a little experiment in wonky internet search terms. Let’s just see if Baby Looney Tunes Volume 3: Puddle Olympics turns out to be Drunk TV’s biggest review ever.
Now, I understand the commercial impetus behind taking established animated characters and turning them into “babies.” I get it. It makes all the little kids out there go, “Awwww……..” before they immediately turn to their parents and screech, “Buy me one of those!” And no doubt that had to be the main reason the Baby Looney Tunes series was created: for da money. And that’s cool with me; I don’t have a problem with companies making money off little kids’ dreams.
Truth be told, it is kind of cute when they take your favorite movie and TV characters and transform them into toddlers. Personally, I’m waiting for the Baby Sam Peckinpah Anti-Heroes line of toddler toys, with cutesie pie “Baby Pike ‘n’ Dutch,” “Baby Doc and Carol McCoy,” “Baby Major Dundee and Captain Tyreen,” and “Baby Sappensly and Quill,” (yes, I copywrited that idea). I’m just not sure that the Looney Tunes characters are the best ones for this “baby-fying” genre.
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The original Looney Tunes toons—particularly the ones from the 1940s and 50s’ “golden age”—without a doubt featured the most adult-acting cartoon characters out there. With unhinged emotions ranging from rage, jealousy, and uncontrolled avarice, to lust, homicidal intent, and out-and-out psychosis, the original Looney Tunes were cartoon characters adults could readily embrace. Restricted now to narrow exposure on specific cable networks, tens of millions of kids from my age group were lucky enough to see these toons and their monstrously dysfunctional characters play day in and day out on syndicated television, thousands and thousands of times, over and over again, until they were literally seared into our brains. They continue to exist as whole entities in our subconscious.
So it can be a little disconcerting at first when we see Bugs and Daffy as “baby” Looney Tunes. It’s not so much that they’re cuter—they are. It’s the fact that now, our favorite malcontents have to jump through the dreaded hoops of “socially responsible” cartoon behavior that was almost the death of TV animation for kids.
As a parent myself, I find it tough to argue against teaching our kids good lessons (and that’s only because I’m supposed to say that—they don’t really listen, anyway). It’s just that those lessons aren’t nearly as much fun as the naughty, irresponsible stuff we watched when we were kids. I lived in the afternoon TV world of The Three Stooges (with all the appropriate eye gougings and sledgehammer blows to the head), Tom and Jerry (broomstick down Tom’s throat was always a “10” on the laugh meter), and the Looney Tunes (who else thought a stick of dynamite was the coolest toy ever?).
Nobody cared what the hell we watched (parents and teachers especially), and they were certainly too preoccupied with their adult lives to look for “valuable lessons” in what we were looking at on the tube. Such a notion would have been laughed off by busy parents who knew (back then) that kids were just kids; they’ll take care of themselves. Of course today, such a notion goes against the grain of all those “helicopter and lawn mower” parents (read: “idiots”), as well as established mainstream institutional education (read: “socialist, P.C.-obsessed, pussy-fying indoctrination camps”). So, we mouth along with the teachers about how important it is that every waking moment of little Johnny’s and little Janie’s life should be occupied with educational activities…while we die a little bit inside.
Baby Looney Tunes is a good example of how far the other way things have gone for mainstream little children’s programming. I suppose it’s good to see a show that tells kids what’s the right thing to do in certain situations, when not to lie, when to be helpful to others, and all that other socially conscious crap (I guess we had Davey and Goliath for that…but that was only because there was nothing else on TV on Sunday mornings).
But did that pasteurization have to happen to my beloved Looney Tunes? I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way; after all, why do kids, along with their parents, want to sneak a look at shows like Rick and Morty and American Dad? Because they’re wrong. They’re totally unacceptable to all the tenants and socially conscious requirements we put on animated shows today. “Educational” is valuable and desirable and all that…but “naughty” is fun.
That being said…I guess Baby Looney Tunes is a delight for the kids, and educational, and all that other garbage. The littlest of the little kids do love these shows. Baby Looney Tunes Volume 3: Puddle Olympics is relatively innocent and sweet, and the toons do impart valuable messages that can only help kids, I suppose, in this increasingly complicated world (read: “nightmare world of Western Civilization’s twilight”). They’re short and to the point, running about eight minutes, and the animation is bright and colorful. The stories are well constructed and the voice work is lively and evocative. I guess, then, my only beef is: why do these nice, innocuous little toons have to star my favorite “adult” cartoon characters?
Here are the 8, eight minute episodes of Baby Looney Tunes Volume 3: Puddle Olympics:
Time and Again
Grandma teaches the Babies how to tell time. There’s a sing along song, Does Your Tongue Hang Low?, included on this episode.
May the Best Taz Win
Baby Taz learns about sportsmanship.
Daffy takes Grannie’s wallet (I’m not kidding), and learns about “finders keepers.” There’s also a sing along song, Over in the Burrow, included here.
Sylvester the Pester
Baby Sylvester wants more attention from Grannie.
A trophy is at the center of controversy when the Babies make model cars. There’s a sing along song, If You’re Looney, included here.
Duck! Monster! Duck!
Baby Daffy makes up a story about monsters, and scares everyone.
Brave Little Tweety
Tweety is having nightmares, and Grannie and the other Babies are there to help. There’s also a sing along song, Foghorn’s Talkin’ in The Barnyard (I kid you not), included here.
The Puddle Olympics
The Baby Looney Tunes put on their own Olympics — in a mud puddle.
PAUL MAVIS IS AN INTERNATIONALLY PUBLISHED MOVIE AND TELEVISION HISTORIAN, A MEMBER OF THE ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY, AND THE AUTHOR OF THE ESPIONAGE FILMOGRAPHY. Click to order.Read more of Paul’s TV reviews here. Read Paul’s film reviews at our sister website, Movies & Drinks.