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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Tiny Toon Adventures: Vol. 1 (1990)

Buster: Hi, kids. I'm Buster Bunny.
Babs: And I'm Babs Bunny.
Both: No relation.

- Tress MacNielle, Charles Adler

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: October 10, 2008

Stars: Tress MacNielle, Charles Adler, Joe Alaskey, Danny Cooksey, Cree Summer, Maurice LaMarche, Gail Matthius
Other Stars: Frank Welker, Candi Milo, Greg Burson
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (zany)
Run Time: 767 min.
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 085391171867
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB-B C-

DVD Review

Ah, Tiny Toon Adventures. The subject of my first undergraduate thesis. If by "undergraduate," you mean "second grade." And by "thesis," you mean "a summary of something I watched on television."

I was all of nine years old when that particular classroom assignment came along. The class was asked to summarize a TV show on the very day Tiny Toons premiered, and at least 75 percent of us wrote essays about the Looney Tunes offshoot, all of which disagreed on the duck's name (Lucky? Ducky?). All in all, not a shining moment in my education, but can you really blame the teacher? Nine-year-olds are nuts.

Anyway. Tiny Toons. When it premiered, it was a big deal for kids. I grew up watching the classic Warner Bros. shorts, which ran constantly, even in the days before Cartoon Network. But this was something different. Though not quite so different, come to think of it. Consider: Muppet Babies. "Presented" by Steven Spielberg, Tiny Toons brings the qualities of the Bugs and Daffy classics into the modern era, and a format suitable for digestion along with an after school snack. It's not the bastardization the "young toons" premise might suggest. Though, true, the cast of characters includes obvious surrogates for Bugs, Daffy, the Tasmanian Devil, Elmer Fudd, et al, the show pays homage to history葉he new characters literally study the art of being animated from their forebears as students at Acme Looniversity, in the storied hamlet of Acme Acres, which is no doubt home to the monolithic Acme Co. that Wile E. Coyote provided with so much business.

The cast includes a host of updates. Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation) appear to be the divided halves of Bugs' personality (Buster got the proclivity for hare-brained schemes; Babs the penchant for dressing like a drag queen). Plucky Duck is a saner, but no less obnoxious offshoot of Daffy. Dizzy Devil is a smaller, purple, and no less destructive Taz. Others aren't quite as obvious揺apless hunter Elmer Fudd is now Elmyra Duff, who loves animals a little too much. Montana Max and Yosemite Sam share similar names and temperments, even if the former is a rich brat rather than a trigger-happy cowboy.

Likely inspired by the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which proved the classic characters were still very popular, Tiny Toons is obviously aimed at kids, but it retains the ribald sensibility of the Warner shorts, which were, well... more than a little loony (Daffy Duck always struck me as about two steps away from a killing spree... Elmer, too). The typical episode strings together two or three brief segments starring the different characters; each tends to have a formula. Animal-loving Elmyra inadvertently tortures the creatures she's trying to love. Furball the cat experiences on disaster after another. Hampton Pig wastes a lot of energy trying to keep the place clean. Some stories last a full half-hour, and tend to try to impart some kind of lesson (Babs learns self-control in Her Wacky Highness after spending a little too long in Wacky Land), but they never feel preachy葉he emphasis is definitely on entertaining kids first.

That said, the longer stories do tend to drag. The show works best in quick bursts, without letting too much plot get in the way葉he best Loony Tunes were exercises in off-the-wall insanity (speaking of Wacky Land, the show heavily features Go Go Do-Do, an obscure character resurrected from a classic Porky Pig short).

The humor ranges from pratfalls to puns, and much is obviously aiming at an older audience葉here is a lot of clever wordplay that kids won't really understand. A lot of the more topical humor has really dated in the last (gasp) 20 years, too葉hough at the moment it isn't so hard to conceive of a nation aghast at the prospect of a vice presidential candidate as unprepared for office as Dan Quayle (that joke was for the adults, too). The animation, though a bit rough by today's standards, holds up very well. As a whole, the show is enjoyable but certainly not as timeless as the shorts that inspired it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: There clearly wasn't a look of work done to prep this show for DVD. The image suffers from dull colors, a lot of grain, and frequent, distracting interlacing. The source definitely looks to have been video, but a full film restoration would probably have been prohibitively expensive, and what we get is certainly passable.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Portugueseyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio received more attention, with every episode benefiting from a 5.1 surround remix. The result isn't too flashy, but spreads the music and some sound effects into the surrounds while anchoring dialogue in the center channel. The original 2.0 mixes are here as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai with remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There's only one extra, the half-hearted From Looney Tunes to Tiny Toons: A Wacky Evolution (22m:35s), which hardly lives up to its title. Initially a rambling discussion of the history of Warner Bros. animation, it finally gets around to actually discussing Tiny Toons, with input from series writer Paul Dini and other producers, briefly touching on the concept and character development, Spielberg's involvement, and the use of a full orchestra to score every episode. It's all a little... boring.

Props on the packaging, which manages to fit four discs in a box the size of a single regular DVD case (there are overlapping trays). Disc 4 is double-sided, with the special feature on side two.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Though Tiny Toons was a big part of my youth, I was always more of an Animaniacs guy. Still, it's nice to finally have a some episodes on DVD葉he series holds up really well, particularly the hand-drawn animation, and might find new fans among the younger generation, who are even less likely to get those Dan Quayle jokes today than I was in 1990.

 


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