Sunday, July 3, 2016

RR Loonatics Unleashed

There's been various shows based around the Looney Tunes over the years. Spinoff parodies, sitcoms, mystery series, reimaginings, reboots and completely new concepts born from them!

So of course all that was left were either a Muppet babies-version or an action-packed extreme take on the license. We already did the baby version last time, let's  have a look at the EXTREME incarnation finally!

We're all a little looney, and here's my other Looney Tunes-related reviews!

Name: Loonatics Unleashed: The Complete First Season
Created by Adam Trevor Grant & Joseph Louis Grant
Original run 2005-2007
Genre Science-fiction/fantasy/action/adventure/comedy animated series

The late 80s/early 90s saw the return of Warner Bros.' classic cartoon characters. Thanks to experiments like Tiny Toon Adventures and later Animaniacs, a cartoon renaissance followed in the 1990s.

Renewed interest in the genre brought the Looney Tunes back, and several good shows based around the Looney Tunes propriety were developed one after the other. Each trying its own thing. Like a mystery-based series, Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, a sitcom parody, Taz-Mania, and finally a tribute to golden science-fiction serials, Duck Dodgers.

Sadly this wouldn't last and we were bound to get something uninspired soon enough. After two theatrical films that failed to deliver despite making a lot of money back, Space Jam and Back in Action, it was decided to try reimagine the propriety for new audiences.

And since superheroes were slowly on the rise both on the big screen and on TV, why not combine both ideas? If Warner Bros. learned one thing from the likes of Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League, is that kids love superheroes and that sells a lot of toys.

But it seems they never understood why these DC Comics-based proprieties worked from the looks of things...

Loonatics Unleashed is Adam Trevor & Joseph Louis Grant's attempt at combining both Looney Tunes and superheroes.

The show would run for 2 seasons, for a total of 26 episodes between 2005 and 2007!

Of course, the series is set "in the far distant future" of 2772. For once they actually aimed for a really long distant date.

After a huge meteor strike near "Acmetropolis", that released a lot of mysterious supernatural energies which gave six Acmetropolis residents several new abilities! United by a strnage woman named Zadavia, they formed a Power Range-style superhero team which Zadavia calls upon whenever new threats are looming over the city. They are... "the Loonatics!", descendants of the classic Looney Tunes characters (I guess Lola Bunny's considered classic now).

And they're really easy to guess whom they're meant to be descendants of. These heroes are Ace Bunny, Lexi Bunny, Danger Duck, Slam Tasmanian, Tech E. Coyote and Rev Runner!

From there, the team goes on several adventures, fighting all kinds of villains-of-the-week and trying to keep the city safe from new threats all around.

As the episodes progresses, it is slowly revealed there's more to this Zadavia than they originally thought. She is truly an alien and the one responsible for the meteor crash that gave them powers in the first place, actually preventing the destruction of Earth that way. And her "family" is a menace at large...

Loonatics Unleashed first aired on The WB from 2005 to 2006 and then on The CW from 2006 to 2007.

This is as derivative you can get from the original Looney Tunes. It's an action-oriented animated series that still tried keeping the same style of humor somehow, while mixing it up with modern action cartoon series. The new design of the characters are much more action-inspired, with a darker tone. It's a weird post-apocalyptic take on the franchise. With full storyline and status quo, several mini-arcs contained over several episodes.

The Looney Tunes followed such a simple formula, like mini-standalone sketches. Why is it so difficult to respect the format? Even if you would like to explore different genres (see Taz-mania or Duck Dodgers for example), you should always remain true to the real nature of these characters.

The problem is, the producers never meant this show to be for classic Looney Tunes fans. Nor for your regular cartoon fans. We were never meant to be the target demographic for this series, this is clearly aimed at pre-teens. The characters try to act funny, but it's just not the same same Chuck Jones/Tex Avery-inspired characters, here they're more simpler 2-dimensional stereotypes, living futuristic anime-esque story. With bad animation.

The problem is there was much better action/comedy series at the times. The original Looney Tunes were timeless, here these so-called Loonatics are just a plain bad reimagination.

We do have a pretty solid voice cast, although they're rarely given any funny lines to play with. Our main characters are voiced by Charlie Schlatter, Adventure Time's Flame Princess herself Jessica DiCicco, Jason Marsden, Rob Paulsen who tries his best to sound as interested in these scripts as he used to be, Kevin Michael Richardson, Candi Milo as well as Charlie Adler, Joe Alaskey, Tim Curry, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Cummings, Dan Castellaneta, Grey DeLisle, Michael Clarke Duncan (!!!), Cree Summer, Maurice LaMarche, even Mark Hamill, Billy West and many more in minor roles.

The complete 2-season series was released over two DVD releases. The set pictured above is The Complete First Season which contains the first 13 episodes.

It's very much an ongoing plot with a major villain to defeat over the course of the first season. Every week had the Loonatics face a new villain.

The show contained several references to the classic Looney Tunes hidden beneath the whole "EXTREME!!" makeover. All kinds of characters, with obvious names such as Melvin the Martian, Sylth Vester, Mr. Leghorn, Ophiuchus Sam, Pierre Le Pew or my least favorite one, Electro J. Fudd

This could really have been fun... the problem is everything's taken at face value, no meta jokes or playful parodies.

The Looney Tunes franchise has been put through a lot over years. Baby Looney Tunes, Space Jam, etc. This series attempted to turn these characters hip by giving them "extreme makeovers", which was an awful trend in the early 2000s (just check out the game Bomberman: Act Zero!). Updated into loud obnoxious stereotypes.

Despite having some loyal fans, this show is kind of embarrassing to look back at. It only lasted for 2 seasons, for good reasons. I'm fine with evolving characters over the years, it can prove the ground for some interesting experiments, but should never tamper with a concept too much. I'd say you would find Loonatics Unleashed at the exact opposite of the same spectrum as Tiny Toon Adventures. Where Tiny Toons was a smart modern take on the classic Looney Tunes, Loonatics Unleashed here was just a terrible modernized soulless action show for kids (which is made even worse when you remember the Looney Tunes where once an adult propriety used in front of big motion pictures). It's almost insulting to the classics. 

It's just loud noise, basic storytelling, pointless plots, cheap comedy, ADD-fueled animation. It's trying to be a shows like "Teen Titans" without any of the heart. If only it had a fun meta-commentary aspect, instead it's just a lazy corporate-driven product of modern marketing.

Usually I've always been a big fan of the music from Looney Tunes productions, but here the score always felt so generic. Background noise, something you don't register. What you kind of expect from any dozen action cartoon series out there. Composed by Thomas Chase Jones.

Overall, Loonatics Unleashed is easily my least favorite Looney Tunes propriety of all time. Far behind the likes of Space Jam. Even worse than Baby Looney Tunes for several reasons.

Looney Tunes at its worse, character blandly redesigned for a new millennium into boring futuristic superheroes. Avoid it at all Cost!!

You know there was a lot of problems with the show when the creators tried to fix things and redirect the tone throughout the later episodes. Season two had a much lighter tone, featuring more and more references to classic Looney Tunes characters. Even the big bad of the first season was pushed aside and never really mentioned anymore. Zadavia herself was not more a Zordon-type commander and even join them a few times.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the series bombed, big time. It was quickly scrapped by Warner Bros. and never really mentioned anywhere, not even in any type of marketing whatsoever.

After "this phase", the Looney Tunes license would be send on hiatus for several years until the character were finally brought back into a comedy format with The Looney Tunes Show back in 2011.

I give it:
1 / 3 Felixes!

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