It's now 2005 and 15+ years since this cartoon first aired. I haven't actually watched it seriously or closely in about 10 years. Now that I'm an adult in my 30s I can look back with a serious eye as I watch the episodes again.
In concept, the cartoon is partly an homage to the classic Looney Tunes but also its own original show. There are a few episodes that are structured like the old cartoons. For example, there is a singer that attacks Buster and so he exacts revenge on this singer's concert -exactly like the old Bugs Bunny cartoon. The ensuing cartoon is similar to Looney Tunes, just in a different era. If you look at the old Looney Tunes, they did an awful lot of stuff exactly like Tiny Toons did. The old Looney Tunes made a lot of social commentary and parody. There were celebrity impersonations. There were a lot of corny period jokes, slang, and dialog. The comedy was surreal and wacky. You can say this exactly for Tiny Toons as well. The comedy styling is 'spiritually' the same. Most definitely a throwback to the classics which hadn't been done well (if at all) in cartoons in the decades prior to this show. We recognize the cultural references in Tiny Toons and we can roll our eyes when something we don't like comes up. But the reason we don't think Looney Tunes are corny is because we weren't alive back in the 40s. Also, Looney Tunes was original back in those days but today cartoons are rehashed over and over. So it's easy to perceive Tiny Toons in an unfair light due to our exposure to current events and our overexposure to cartoons in general.
There certainly are differences in many respects - the timing, the delivery, and obviously the duration of the shows. They are two different styles from two different periods, being done under two very different circumstances - Looney Tunes being made for adults in theaters and Tiny Toons being made for kids watching TV. Even so, they did a good job making an original show with original gags AND still paying homage to and patterning after the comedy stylings of the old Looney Tunes.
Since Tiny Toons had a lot more time to play with, they had some genuine moments of great animated inspiration. You only have to look at episodes like 1 minute to 3, the baby Plucky toilet episode.. there are so many more. For example, one of the best comedy dialog exchanges ever animated is in ThirteenSomething when Babs and Buster are on the phone in a split screen, hoping each misses the other. The miscommunication is spectacular. Notably, the character development in this episode and in several others (usually the ones penned by Deanna Oliver or Sherri Stoner) is rather good. The female characters were taken seriously as personalities and developed, unusual considering the opposite is usually true for cartoons of that period.
This was the first modern cartoon that had lots of both pop culture-referential and self-referential humor. This was way ahead of its time. Tiny Toons really opened up a door for writers to take comic liberties that are so common in the cartoons today, instead of doing the boring old crap we endured as 80s kids. Yes, I loved Transformers and Thundercats, but Tiny Toons totally jumped away from all that. It was a breath of fresh air. Bakshi's New Adventures of Mighty Mouse may have been a precursor, but Tiny Toons made this surreal style of comedy cartoon writing a real success.
As a kid I totally overlooked some jokes. For example, one episode is an homage to the Marx Brothers that I completely ignored as a teen. Now I have a newfound respect for it. There are so many inspired gags that I never noticed that are genuinely brilliant. It's that kind of comedy that makes me think of Looney Tunes and Family Guy. I NEVER noticed that kind of comedy as a kid. I've been thinking this for most episodes I watched recently.
You'd notice these kinds of things if you actually WATCHED the show. Unlike some other reviewers here who I know are unfairly judging it, I've seen all the episodes and have thought about them thoroughly, exposed both as a kid and as an adult.
You can tell there was an awful lot of care taken with the voice acting too. I'm not talking about just the main characters, but the side characters were done really well and creatively too. But back to the main characters, some of the main characters were brilliant. Tress MacNeille had, in my opinion, her best performances in this cartoon. She hasn't been the same since. Rob Paulsen also did some incredible stuff here, too.
This is all not to say the show didn't have some bad episodes. It had plenty. It had a lot of mediocre ones, too. But by far it certainly had a lot of genuinely funny episodes. Especially back when it first aired it was actually funny to watch.
Out of 10 I give the show an 8.5 - and kudos for pushing the envelope and breaking down the doors leading to a new era of cartoons.
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