The cast of Looney Tunes has an undefinable magic, making these 80-year-old characters entertaining today. Staying in the style created by Tex Avery, with a variety of vignettes, Tom Ruegger created the next generation with Tiny Toon Adventures, or just Tiny Toons. Buster Bunny, Babs Bunny (no relation), Plucky Duck, Hamton J. Pig, and more attended Acme Looniversity to earn their Toon Degree. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Wily E. Coyote and more were their professors. The premise was incredibly inventive.
Each episode of Tiny Toons either featured 2-3 segments with bumpers, or the entire episode was its own story. The plots ranged from original material to parodies of pop culture or classics such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Twilight Zone, or Saturday Night Live. Of the different types of shows, my favorites are the music episodes. The episodes were music videos featuring the characters set to a variety of songs, like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” by They Might Be Giants, and “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters. Maybe it was because they were set to catchy tunes, but I clearly remember these episodes today.
Like Looney Tunes before it, Tiny Toons features a plethora of voice talent: Charlie Adler, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, Cree Summer, and Frank Welker to name a few. While you may not recognize a few of the names, I guarantee you’d recognize their work. Other notable talent involved with the show were the writers. Aside from creator Ruegger, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Michael Reaves were chief among the staff. Tiny Toons was so beloved that three girls sent a script that was actually used for an episode. What’s more impressive was finding an address to mail it to. My Google-Fu has failed me, so I’m not sure which episode it is. If someone knows, please let me know if the comments.
Ruegger is the modern-day Tex Avery. This is completely speculation on my part, but it seems like he wanted to create his own cartoons, but needed to establish himself. After being given license over the Looney Tunes brand, and making it successful, he went on to make another popular show, Animaniacs. The only major difference between the shows is the latter features new characters. It can be argued that the Tiny Toons are new, they are, but they’re built directly upon established characters. While most of the staff stayed on, Dini, Timm, and Reaves did not. They went on to other projects.
There were some behind the scenes problems as production for Animaniacs ramped up. Charlie Adler (Buster Bunny) left the show after not being given a roll in Animaniacs, while his fellow voice actors were. By this point the show was in its third season. Joe Alaskey (Plucky Duck) left after a money dispute, but eventually returned.
I could easily repeat all the positive things I said about Animaniacs. Tiny Toons is a fantastic show the likes of which isn’t seen anymore. Educational, fun, and dynamic enough to offer something for everyone. Of the two, I prefer Animaniacs, mostly because they had the formula down by then. But it barely edges out Tiny Toons. If Dizzy Devil wasn’t awesome, they also gave us Gogo Dodo.
What was your favorite part of Tiny Toons? Animaniacs or Tiny Toons? Answer below for extra credit.
Still know the theme song by heart.