There hasn’t really been a forum for Looney Tunes shorts for a long time. Animated shorts used to play in theaters but the days of extra programming are gone in favor of more ads and more showtimes. They could always combine three shorts into a half hour TV series which they did for a while. Thanks to streaming, HBO Max deliver all new Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck shorts.
Looney Tunes Cartoons stream in 12 minute segments on HBO Max. In that time they can fit two shorts and a brief interstitial, cramming a lot of your favorite Looney Tunes into one block.
The Looney Tunes gang’s all here
Most of the six minute shorts have simple concepts. Bugs Bunny gets into an arm wrestling contest with Yosemite Sam. Porky Pig and Daffy Duck are firemen who keep having pole sliding accidents while trying to respond to a call.
That’s just enough plot to work out in five or six minutes, and throw all the jokes you can at them. Even Daffy and Porky on an adventure in an old tomb streamlines the action to the important beats, sort of a Raiders of the Lost Ark cliffnotes, and with a lot more shenanigans.
Just the first few shorts really crosses a lot of genres and they haven’t even gotten to all the characters yet. Porky Pig and Daffy Duck costar in some of the first shorts, and Bugs has run ins with some classic Looney Tunes heels.
They cover a lot of different genres too. There’s an Indiana Jones style adventure, a western motif, plus some basic situational comedy. Tweety and Sylvester are coming soon, and let’s hope the first season includes some Road Runner and Pepe le Pew.
The new animation of Looney Tunes Cartoons
HBO Max’s Looney Tunes Cartoons don’t look quite like the old classics. There’s a bit of a Flash animation quality to the backgrounds and some of the quicker movements. When it comes to the central characters, the animation is more fleshed out.
The Looney Tunes have embraced the violence of streaming. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd were always violent characters, and it was always slapstick cartoon violence, but if they’re going to be on HBO Max, they didn’t shy away from pushing the boundaries. Jokes involve chunks of flesh bitten off, burned bodies and more than your usual Wile E. Coyote catastrophe.
It’s funny and there is something fitting about making the gritty Looney Tones for HBO Max streaming. Shorts also embrace cartoon logic to defy physics in endearing ways. Plus, the good old banana peel gag never gets old, but you’ll be surprised where it shows up.
That old Looney Tunes style
The Looney Tunes are as irreverence and melodramatic as ever. Daffy Duck goes from mocking to mourning within seconds, and neither reaction is appropriate to his situation. Major problems can be solved by absurd shortcuts to move the storyline forward in five minutes. These too can be rather dark and involve morbid jokes.
The Looney Tunes of HBO Max definitely know their history. They reference each other’s characters, whether they’re in a short together or not. They’re always self-referential, and don’t hesitate to pay homage to the Warner Bros. overlords either. Ever since “Duck Amuck,” the Looney Tunes have acknowledged they know they’re cartoons, and Bugs makes more meta jokes in these shorts.
The gang’s all here
The voices sound like our old friends. Some have been doing the characters for decades, others are new additions, but they haven’t drawn attention to themselves. Although, when Bugs says, “Whatcha’ doin’ there, doc?” it must be an intentional way to change up his lifelong catch phrase.
The new Looney Tunes Cartoons are in the perfect bite sized chunks to get your fill of cartoon antics. The original shorts are timeless so it’s never a bad time to introduce those to kids who’ve never seen them, so if these introduce a new generation to the classics, that would be great. They do the job for fans who’ve seen them all too.