Tag Archives: looney tunes

Dec. 19 – The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives

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Original release date January 7, 1933

Every year I do this I am reminded at how surprising it is that so few Christmas themed Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts exist. Disney put out several memorable ones over the years featuring their characters, but Warner Bros. mostly stayed away. Bugs Bunny would eventually get a Christmas television special in the 70s, but that was well past the age of the cartoon short.

That’s not to say Warner didn’t produce any Christmas cartoons under their two most popular banners, just that most didn’t feature the company’s most recognizable faces. The first of which, The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives, contained no recognizable faces even though this was during the heyday for Bosko. The Rudolf Ising directed short was the first Merrie Melodies cartoon released in 1933, missing the Christmas holiday by a couple of weeks. Even though the Merrie Melodies line of shorts is often distinguished from Looney Tunes due to the presence of color (that wouldn’t come until 1934), this is a black and white film that’s fallen into the public domain.

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Possibly the nicest piece of animation in the short.

The short is a Depression-era cartoon, hence the name The Shanty Where Santy Claus lives. It’s not a particularly well known short as it wasn’t shown on television much given that it’s associated with a holiday and thus confined to a short window for release. Since it’s from 1933, it also doesn’t look particularly great compared with the more popular Warner cartoons and, as I already mentioned, it’s devoid of the characters the studio is known for. Despite that though, it did receive some play on Cartoon Network during the 1990s, but sometimes with alterations. I honestly can’t recall if I ever saw this one on the channel. I used to love falling asleep to the Christmas Eve programming on Cartoon Network which ran all night and mostly consisted of winter or Christmas themed cartoons. I could usually bank on seeing Peace on Earth at that time and only that time. This cartoon was probably shown as well, but I don’t remember it specifically. When viewing it now, it has an air of familiarity to it, but that could just be my imagination.

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Our downtrodden protagonist.

The cartoon begins with bells ringing and they are gorgeously animated. It then heads for ground level where the animation is less gorgeous and is accompanied by “Silent Night,” something that will become a trope in Christmas specials to come. A disheveled looking kid is drearily stomping through the snow with a floppy hat and his hands stuffed into his pockets. His exaggerated feet practically look like snowshoes. He hears singing coming from a church, but declines to enter. He perks up momentarily when he hears another commotion. Racing over to a window he looks in on a bunch of kids dancing around a Christmas tree. He then turns to the camera with a sad face as the wind howls.

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Listen kids, normally it’s not okay to run off with an old guy promising toys.

The boy gets caught in the gust which tosses him into the side of his shanty. The snow falls off the roof and buries him momentarily. He pulls himself up and heads inside. It’s a one-room shack with hardly anything inside, including parents. He’s rather down, even weeping, until he hears something outside. Sleigh bells herald the arrival of Santa Claus who comes bursting in singing the short’s signature song. Santa offers to take the boy with him to his shanty where toys and wonderful things await. The kid is more than eager to take old Saint Nick up on his offer and the two head outside. Santa puts the boy on the back of his sleigh before climbing in himself. He orders the reindeer to “giddy-up” and as they take off the boy tumbles from the back of the sleigh. Malnutrition has apparently not affected the boy’s speed or conditioning as he races after the sleigh and essentially outruns the reindeer to get back into Santa’s arms. This time the old man is smart enough to put the kid in the sleigh proper and the two take off into the sky.

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You are correct if you assumed Santa flew past that moon before landing in front of his shop. Maybe the first ever animated shot of Santa in front of a moon?

Santa and his team of two reindeer (the Depression even impacted Santa) make it to Santa’s shanty. And it’s hardly a shanty. The two head inside and the kid’s eyes widen to see all of the toys waiting to be delivered to new homes. Some of them are a bit…iffy looking, but we pan back to the kid pretty quickly who’s looking quite happy. He heads in further and starts playing with a kangaroo toy. When he squeezes a ball on the end of a tube it makes the little joey pop out of the pouch. Cute.

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Well, this just went wrong very fast.

The boy then turns his attention to a musical toy and….oh no, here’s our reminder this is a cartoon from the 1930s. A toy of jazz musicians is displayed and they basically all look like they’re pulled from a minstrel show. We then see a baby doll crying out for it’s Mama before tumbling off the shelf into a box of soot. It then emerges, in blackface, crying for its “Mammy” who then shows up to retrieve the toy. And we’re not done! A rag doll starts dancing as the short’s song returns with two other dolls that also look like blackface dolls. She then ditches the pair to watch on the side cheering them on with some maracas.

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Oh my god, it just got worse!

More toys are spotlighted including a doll that tries to blow up a balloon. She sucks in the air and turns into a woman of generous proportions who begins to sing “Shine on Harvest Moon” in what is undoubtedly a caricature of singer Kate Smith. There’s also a toy soldier on a baby bank. When the register pops open it’s, get this, full of babies. A teddy bear is shown playing a trombone and a jack-in-the-box beside it pops out and it’s thankfully not racist. The trombone keeps hitting it into a drum which is mildly amusing.

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Make it stop!

We then end up at the Christmas tree which has a lit candle on it. One of the toys knocks it over and soon the tree catches on fire (and you thought those giant bulbs from the 40s and 50s were a fire hazard) forcing the fire brigade into action. The toy fire brigade, that is. A fire engine races over and tries to put out the flames, but it is just a toy. We then see the boy again, the supposed main character who has apparently just been watching this whole thing and is possibly willing to let the racist toys burn, who decides he should take some action. A hose is conveniently at his feet and hooked up to a sink. He inserts the other end into some bagpipes which are just laying on the floor and runs over to the tree. He squeezes the bagpipes spraying water out of the various pipes which douse the flames. The toys cheer triumphantly and the short comes to an abrupt end.

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Kid, maybe you should just let this place burn.

I suppose when I saw this cartoon was in the public domain I should have expected some racism. Cartoonists, for whatever reason, loved these blackface gags in the 20s and 30s and really seemed to like the black figures seen here. Maybe it’s a benign reason, since these cartoons are in black and white it was an easy gag to get over, but it is what it is. When Cartoon Network aired this one it eventually edited out those parts, though I think at one point in time they were left in. Considering the short is a little over 7 minutes with that stuff intact, it must have been incredibly short without it. If you watch a lot of old cartoons, there’s nothing in here you haven’t seen before. I don’t think those images would keep this from being released as part of a collection of Warner cartoons, but it sure would earn it a disclaimer.

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Well, the fire’s out and…it’s over? Okay then.

Visually, this is an old cartoon and it shows. The backgrounds aren’t very detailed and certainly pale in comparison to what Disney was doing at the time. The characters have noodle-like limbs and their mouth movements are a bit odd. There are some twin characters that were probably just doubles of the film cells or possibly traces from one image to another as they move in perfect unison. The kid main character also doesn’t look particularly good, but a lot of effort was put into Santa who has a nice, jolly, demeanor.

As a Christmas toon, this is essentially a piece of wish fulfillment. A poor kid is not going to get to enjoy Christmas like the more well-off children will, so Santa shows up to whisk him away. It probably wasn’t something a poor kid needed to see as it would have felt patronizing. Santa is also barely in it as he just shows up to take the kid and then basically disappears once we get to his work shop. I kept waiting for him to come in and put out the fire (or destroy those racist toys), but he must have left to go find some other poor kid. There’s a lot of public domain Christmas music at play though, and the one original song works well enough.

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He’s certainly not as charismatic as Porky.

The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives is a public domain cartoon that is quite easy to come by. Just typing the name into a search engine should produce plenty of results, or you can even just go straight to YouTube. There are various public domain Christmas VHS and DVDs that include it, and Warner even featured it on a laser disc release of shorts back in the day, but I doubt you want to go that route. Because it’s free, the quality can vary. Some claim to be upscaled to HD, but they get a blurry, smear, effect as a result. Some are very gray in appearance and there’s even some that are practically yellow. Still, you don’t have to look too hard to find one with nice enough contrast levels. I don’t really recommend it, but it is only 7 minutes so it’s not exactly much of a time commitment. It’s a shame the few gags present are mostly racist humor. The only memorable non racist gag was the baby bank, which wasn’t particularly funny either. As the first Christmas-themed Merrie Melodies short, it at least has some historical significance. Just beware of the racist stuff.


Dec. 10 – The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries – “Feather Christmas”

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Original air date December 12, 1999

One of the earliest Kids’ WB shows was The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. It centered on Granny (June Foray) and her pets Tweety Bird (Joe Alaskey), Sylvester the cat (Alaskey), and Hector the bulldog (Frank Welker) and they went around, I bet you’ll never guess, solving mysteries. The personalities of the characters are all pretty much the same as you remember from the old Warner cartoon shorts. I don’t know if Hector technically is the same character as the bulldog who often showed up in those cartoons, but he’s just a big dog who likes to inflict pain upon Sylvester, usually in response to the cat trying to eat Tweety. Yes, even though they’re on a team now, Sylvester still very much wants to eat Tweety. The show ran from 1995-2000 with even one holdover episode not airing until 2002.

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The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries ran from 1995 to 2000 and produced 52 episodes.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries was not a show I watched. By the time it premiered I was aging out of television cartoons. I did take a look when it first launched, but found the show too long and a tad boring. That first season of 13 episodes contained one long-form story over the half hour television slot while future seasons would switch to a two-segment formant. The little I’ve seen of those are definitely much improved in the pacing department, though I haven’t seen enough of them to really offer an opinion.

Our episode today is from season 4, so it’s actually just half of an episode. “Feather Christmas” is the first segment in the show’s 41st episode and it originally aired December 12, 1999. The second segment (not covered in this post) is actually a New Year’s special and is titled “A Fist Full of Lutefisk,” if you’re interested.

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A pair of Christmas crooks.

The special opens with a shadowy couple sneaking around a home at night. They snatch a bird from a cage and then sneak around the Christmas tree to hand it off to a driver outside. As he leaves with the creature, a little girl shows up with an empty bird cage in hand. She’s clearly just woken up and is immediately distressed about the bird-napping. The lights come on and it’s revealed the thieves are actually her parents.

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Hey cat, tampering with the mail is a federal crime.

At Granny’s home, Sylvester is making out his Christmas list. He recounts how each year they head to New England to visit a comically distant relative of Granny’s and every year he gets the same present:  a rubber mouse. This year he wants a little yellow bird (what else?) and he hopes that by being extra good Santa will finally gift him what he wishes. Tweety shows up to inquire what he’s doing and Sylvester hides his letter from him. Tweety then basically taunts him as he seals it in an envelope and heads out to a mailbox to send the letter. As Tweety sits perched on the mailbox lid, Sylvester gets sick of his incessant nagging and flicks him down into the mailbox. When Tweety reminds him he needs to be nice or Santa won’t give him anything, he immediately regrets his decision and starts reaching into the mailbox and pulling out letters. Tweety slips out the rear door of the mailbox (apparently it wasn’t locked) and then watches and continues with his chattering. A Mailman shows up and eventually puts a stop to Sylvester’s mail destruction.

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I’ve stared at this picture for several minutes and I still have no idea what’s in Hector’s mouth.

Sylvester winds up in a snowdrift just outside the house, while inside Granny is singing a rousing rendition of “The Feast of Stephen” while Hector snoozes beside. She leaves when the phone rings allowing for Hector to go nosing through the bags of gift-wrapping by the piano. Granny returns to announce they have another case, while Hector emerges from the wrapping with a bunch of…something…in his mouth. Dog treats? I don’t know.

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Nice house.

At the Fontleroy residence, the little girl (Laura, voiced by Laraine Newman) from earlier is howling about her missing bird while the parents try to sell her on a new pet. As the dad (Mark L. Taylor) lists off different pets as options, their butler presents an example. The one for a dog is an old Warner character, a brown dog that may or may not have a name, but he’s pretty recognizable. It ends up being the butler who passes on Granny’s business card to Mr. Fontleroy and at first he mistakes Granny for a pet substitute, then smartens up.

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Laura is portrayed as a brat, though she’s also clearly been wronged by her parents in regads to her bird. I’m not sure who to root for.

Granny shows up and the Fontleroys explain what happened. They hated the bird, and Mr. Fontleroy claims it even bit him several times, so they had their chauffeur take it away in the middle of the night. Now they regret their decision since their daughter is inconsolable and they want Granny to find it. The problem for them is their chauffeur is off for the rest of the year and they don’t know what pet store he returned the bird to. Granny agrees to take “the case,” though this doesn’t strike me as much of a mystery.

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Sylvester “helping.”

Granny heads out with her animal companions and Sylvester is eager to appear nice and helpful. He opens the door to the pet store for Granny, but mistakenly pins Hector and Tweety between the door and the wall in doing so. Hector does not take kindly to this and he and Sylvester have a rumble through the store causing a great mess. The store had taken in the bird, but the problem is the owner then traded it to another pet store for a blue-tongued skink.

Granny heads to the next store, and this time she forbids Hector and Sylvester from coming in with her and Tweety. They sit outside on the curb when Hector notices a tree lot nearby and silently asks Sylvester (Hector is mute) to watch his “spot” on the sidewalk until he returns, which Sylvester agrees to do. Hector happily runs over to doggy paradise while Sylvester notices a Salvation Army-like volunteer ringing a bell for charity donations. Sylvester heads over to help and begs for change alongside the bell-ringer. When that fails to generate any additional donations he straps himself into a one-man band costume and makes a ton of noise which just drives everyone away.

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Hector gets caught relieving himself on a tree.

At the tree lot, Hector finds a nice douglas fir to mark and is enjoying himself until the tree lot owner chases him away. He hides in another tree to avoid the attendant, or at least that’s what the guy thinks, and he pounces only to find it’s a little old lady. A much bigger man in her company comes over and pounds the man into the ground. Meanwhile, Granny finds out this second pet store has traded the bird to a third pet store, and she’s off to Bob’s Pet Emporium for another try.

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More of Sylvester’s helping, though actually he’s not really to blame for this one.

When Granny and Tweety enter the store, Sylvester notices a woman trying to string up Christmas lights. He sees this as another opportunity to be helpful and thus impress Santa Claus. Sylvester offers to take the lights up the ladder for the lady, and she’s happy to let him do so. She holds the ladder, which is on wheels, while Sylvester strings the lights, but a phone call from inside her shop causes her to abandon the “puddy cat.” The ladder rolls off, and Sylvester is forced to hang on for dear life. He uses the string of lights as a lasso to rope a giant Christmas tree that Hector was about to pee on. The tree is uprooted and is taken along with Sylvester while Hector gets caught as well. Inside the pet shop, Granny finds out the store is expecting the bird to arrive at any minute. Outside, Sylvester and gang come to a stop when they collide with a delivery truck. Granny heads outside to find the damaged bird cage the little yellow bird was traveling in, but no bird.

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Were you aware that Sylvester is a Christ-like figure?

At the Fontleroy residence, Granny is dismayed to only be able to present to the family a damaged bird cage with no bird. Outside, Sylvester is watching when the bird flies over to land on the window beside him. He thinks it’s his gift from Santa and he’s overjoyed to have a little yellow bird of his very own to consume. He looks over at the sad little girl, and it’s enough to convince him to give the bird to its rightful owner. As he goes to present it, the girl sees Sylvester and decides she’d rather have him. Her parents point out that she has her bird back, but the tantrum ensues nonetheless.

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Every Christmas special needs an unselfish act.

Back at Granny’s house, everyone receives gifts from the Fontleroys as a thank you for returning the bird. Sylvester rips his present open to find yet another rubber mouse. Tweety flies over to smartly remind him there’s always next year, which just provokes Sylvester into chasing him around as the camera zooms out on the house.

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And Sylvester’s unselfish act is largely unappreciated.

Since “Feather Christmas” is only one segment of a half hour show, it ends up being rather brief. It works out well then that there isn’t much of a mystery to solve, since there’d hardly be time for anything substantial. Instead, it’s basically just a story about Sylvester trying to be good, but also not trying all that hard. A problem I have with the show in general is present here and that’s in how the physical comedy bits feel a bit redundant with the old cartoon shorts. I suppose that’s fine if you were a little kid in 1999 who may not have been that familiar with those toons (though I think they were still on television then), but if you grew up with the packaged blocks of those cartoons then this episode probably won’t make you laugh. I liked some of the personality in Hector and his embarrassment over getting caught urinating on a tree. There isn’t a lot of Tweety in this episode, which I’m also okay with as he was never one of my favorites. I always rooted for Sylvester in those old cartoons.

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Tweety just has to get in one last dig before the episode ends.

It’s a bit surprising that Sylvester is shown doing the right thing at the end, Christmas spirit and all, but actually doesn’t get anything. There isn’t even an implied presence from Santa Claus at the episode’s end, just gifts from the family they (sort of) helped out. On one hand, you’re not automatically owed anything for doing the right thing, but on the other characters usually receive some token from old Saint Nick in these tales. I suppose it’s intentionally trying to up-end the norm for a Christmas special, but it didn’t really do it in a funny way. Not much of this was very amusing, so I can’t say I missed out on anything by not watching this show in the 90s. For what it’s worth, the show is at least well-animated and the voice acting is good. Other episodes feature more cameos of classic Looney Tunes characters and those are probably a bit more enjoyable for that reason alone.

The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries have only received a partial home video release. The 13 episode first season, which contains a different Christmas episode that will likely be covered here some day, is on that set. This episode was never released though along with the other seasons. This show actually was still airing on Boomerang as recently as 2017 so I suppose there’s an outside chance it could pop-up this month? I’m not sure if the channel still has the rights to broadcast it. If you must watch it though, it looks like WB isn’t too concerned about piracy so it’s not hard to find. If you want my opinion though, if you really want to spend Christmas with Sylvester and Tweety just check out the far superior “Gift Wrapped.”


Dec. 17 – It’s A Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special

IAWTTCS-TCOn December 6, 1992, Tiny Toon Adventures aired its series finale, a Christmas special. After three seasons it was time to move on to spin-offs, additional specials, and new shows. It’s interesting because this episode deals with the show getting cancelled in a hypothetical way. It’s also a parody of It’s A Wonderful Life which means I’m loathe to watch it, but here goes nothing.

The episode opens with its typical opening – but wait! It’s all dressed up for Christmas and even the lyrics have been changed to reflect that. This I like. Once the episode starts, it gets right down to the parody nature with shots of various characters from the exterior of their homes praying to the heavens for someone to look out for Buster Bunny. Plucky tries to hide the fact that he’s looking out for Buster, but he also reveals he doesn’t want Buster to quit cartoons because then the show will be cancelled. Interestingly, a menorah appears in Hamilton Pig’s window. That seems like the wrong religion for a pig to choose, but I won’t judge. We then head up into the celestial bodies where two beings are communicating with each other about the prayers concerning Buster. The one in position to be our Clarence is actually named Harvey and he sounds a lot like James Stewart. Stewart also starred in a picture named Harvey about a guy who befriends a giant rabbit. This is not a coincidence.

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A little Grinch joke early on gets this one off on the right foot.

Just like the film it’s lampooning, this one then becomes a flashback and we see Buster and Babs sledding through a snowy landscaping singing a little song. There’s a Grinch-like character they thwart and a snowman that resembles Burl Ives who nearly gets taken out as well before the two reach an auditorium. They’re preparing to put on a performance for Christmas, and Buster is apparently in charge. Babs also has cleavage –  this is something I did not remember from my youth. As they’re getting ready to rehearse, Montana Max shows up in a wheelchair probably to evoke images of Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life. Elmira tries to steal a kiss from him and he promptly kicks her right in the ass! Violence against women, or girls, is also something I did not remember from this show.

Max is demanding and irritated that they got started without him. He pays off the network executives who were in attendance so he can take control of the show. Buster tries not to let it bring him down and gets back to rehearsing with Little Sneezer doing some Ebesneezer Scrooge bit with Bob Hope (not actually Bob Hope, in fact all of the celebrities are impersonations) that doesn’t go so well. Buster turns his attention to a duet ice skating routine from Babs and Cher. When he compliments Cher on her wardrobe, but fails to do the same for Babs, she gets a little ticked. Max is there to further inflame the situation by suggesting to Babs that Buster is flirting with Cher, which causes Babs to rough her up during their routing in which they sing a pretty poor parody of “I’ve Got You, Babe.” After Cher falls through the ice and the bit ends in disaster, Buster tells Plucky he can go on as The Little Drummer Duck for a scene with William Shatner. Plucky, after having his other roles be re-cast as Urkel previously (he was pretty hot in 1992), is overjoyed to take the stage and promises to wow the executives. When Max replaces the microphones with TNT the bit goes up in smoke – literally. By now Max has thrown enough money at the executives to gain full control of the production, and everyone else is pissed at Buster for how terrible it’s going. He sulks out, and the other toonsters seem to immediately start to regret how they acted.

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When Go-Go gets the canned boo’s you know you’re in trouble.

Buster, feeling dejected, decides to throw himself out of the picture and literally walks to the edge of the celluloid. That’s when Harvey is dropped in to prevent him from doing so. Harvey, depicted as a lanky white rabbit with a bow tie, hears Buster utter the magic words to set the second act in motion – “I wish I were never on Tiny Toons.” Buster gets his wish, and Harvey and he set out to see what life would be like for Tiny Toons had Buster never been involved with it.

Buster is whisked away to Montyville where literally every business on the street is owned by Montana Max including his Savings and No Loan. He and Harvey hit a store display TV to check out Tiny Toons without him and find that Plucky Duck is the star here. They watch the intro in which Plucky sings about how great he is and Babs repeatedly has anvils dropped on her head. When the show begins, Plucky and Babs introduce themselves and use the “No relation” line she and Buster would do, which Babs points out makes no sense before she’s hit with another anvil. Buster has seen enough and demands Plucky cease dropping anvils on Babs. Plucky, having no idea who Buster is, is offended when Buster calls him Goofy and accuses him of being a Disney spy. He has security remove him and takes a parting shot at Disney’s Jeffrey Katzenberg for good measure.

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The Plucky show has a different vibe than Tiny Toons.

Little Sneezer, being one of the guards, is confronted by Buster but claims to not know him. Buster gets booted out and winds up at Acme Looniversity, which is now Montana Max’s Business University. Max pops up on a closed circuit TV to announce that in honor of Christmas he’s shortening the school day to a mere 18 hours. He’s also heading off to Aspen with Morgan Fairchild, her second reference of the episode leading me to believe a writer thinks pretty highly of her, and Buster is left in a state of disbelief. Still clinging to the hope that someone will know him, he heads to his old home room. Harvey warns him there’s nothing funny going on inside there anymore, but he takes a peak anyway to find Madonna teaching the class and advising the students to wear their underwear on the outside to get some of that Warner money (which makes no sense since most of them don’t even wear pants let alone underwear). Buster still doesn’t get it, prompting Harvey to give him an ear full about how he was never a part of Tiny Toons and even says he never existed. Since this show is pretty metta, I suppose if he was never on Tiny Toons then no one would have ever created him. This thing just got pretty dark.

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Buster doesn’t particularly enjoy his new reality.

Having accepted the situation for what it is, Buster asks Harvey about Babs and if she has a different boyfriend in this reality. He tells him to go find out for himself and directs him to the film library. There he finds Babs, in librarian attire, watching cartoons. Porky lassos the moon for Petunia, while Pepe Le Pew puts on perfume before he resumes sexually assaulting that poor cat. Babs turns off the projector and laments her co-star-less life when Buster approaches her. Things go well, until he tries to tell her that they’re the stars of Tiny Toon Adventures. After hearing that, Babs just thinks he’s a crazy stalker and runs out. Buster, now satisfied with what he’s seen, asks Harvey to undo his wish, but Harvey can’t just yet because – commercials.

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The real star of the show.

After the break, Harvey vanishes and Buster is left confused. Babs enters the film room to see what’s up and he’s relieved that she knows who he is giving her a big hug and crushing her spine in the process. The animation really gets a little wacky for that part. Then Buster goes on his love tour just like George did, he loves Acme Acres, he loves his rabbit hole, he loves Spielberg, and even kisses the TV screen (I kiss it too). He returns to the auditorium to find everyone hates Max’s ideas for the show, including the network executives. He apparently didn’t bribe them enough because he’s soon fired and Buster is re-hired. Buster consoles him by assuring him he’s the star of the show. Cher flirts with Buster a bit, reminding Babs that she’s still mad at him. Cher tells her Buster was only whispering to her earlier to get a suggestion from Cher on what to get Babs for Christmas. When she asks Buster what she suggested, he plants a nice, long, lingering kiss on her smacker.

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This I like.

Buster and Babs hop in a sleigh and start to sing a little Christmas song all about togetherness. The other toons get their little moment to shine during the song and several of the “celebrities” cameo as well. Max gets to take his place as the star of the show – atop the Christmas tree. He hates it, and he really hates it when Elmira uses the fact that he’s incapacitated in his star costume to steal a kiss. No means no, Elmira! There’s also a very brief Charlie Brown parody, which I snicker at, and the horse-drawn sleigh takes to the sky and flies off. The camera pans back to reveal Harvey who remarks the show wasn’t bad, before producing a zipper and revealing that he was in fact Bugs Bunny this whole time. He adds a “for amateurs” qualifier to his previous statement, chomps a carrot, and walks out to end our picture.

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The whole gang on a musical sleigh ride. So long, Tiny Toons.

“It’s A Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas” plays this pretty conventional as far as It’s A Wonderful Life parodies go. It relies on a lot of its usual brand of humor of mocking celebrity culture and breaking the fourth wall. Sometimes these jokes land, and sometimes they feel lazy. Just inserting a cartoon version of a celebrity doesn’t count as a joke, and sometimes I feel like the show doesn’t quite get that. The animation is mostly good, but I feel like characters go off-model a lot in this episode, more so than I remember from the show. Maybe the third season had a smaller budget, or maybe it was an attempt to make the show look more “toon-like” or something. The voice cast for this show is exceptional though, and they do not disappoint. Tress MacNeille, John Kassir, Dan Castellaneta, Cree Summer, Danny Cooksey, Maurice LaMarche, Joe Alasky – all fantastic voice actors.  The show sticks to its parody format pretty strongly and doesn’t even deviate for a Santa mention. That’s fine and I do actually like this one. I find the show’s premise charming and since it’s so wrapped-up in Hollywood culture it does make sense for it to tackle It’s A Wonderful Life for its Christmas special. If you want to check this one out for yourself, I can’t think of a channel that would show it this year. A few years ago you could rely on Hub to do so, but that channel underwent a format change and eventually dropped the show in 2015. Tiny Toon Adventures is available on home media and streaming on Amazon, iTunes, and VUDU, and if you want my opinion, it’s a worthwhile show to own.


Dec. 6 – “Gift Wrapped” starring Tweety Bird

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“Gift Wrapped” (1952)

After yesterday’s rather lengthy write-up, I need something a bit more bite-sized today, so how about a Looney Tunes short? Surprisingly, there really aren’t a lot of Christmas themed Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts out there. Sure there’s a Christmas gag here and there, but usually those are not in cartoons actually taking place on Christmas. Bugs Bunny did have a television Christmas special in the 70s, and Daffy Duck got one decades later, but when it comes to classic shorts the most well known starring a Looney Tunes character is probably “Gift Wrapped.”

“Gift Wrapped” is a Tweety Bird short so naturally it also features Sylvester the cat and Granny. Tweety isn’t one of my favorites as his shorts are almost all interchangeable. Yeah, you could say the same of most of these characters, but his just stuck out the most. In that sense, “Gift Wrapped” isn’t particularly remarkable as a cartoon, but it does take place at Christmas and if you’re only going to watch one Tweety cartoon why not go with the Christmas one?

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If ever your cat eats one of your other pets just give him a firm slap on the butt.

The short opens with a shot of a cozy looking house in the falling snow. A narrator is reciting “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” and Sylvester feels compelled to confirm that there are indeed no mice stirring as he hungrily sits outside a mouse hole. The narration cuts out soon after and it’s Christmas morning. Sylvester comes running down the stairs like a kid all excited to see what Santa brought him. When he unwraps his gift to find a rubber mouse he’s dejected – he wants a real mouse. He soon overhears a small voice singing “Jingle Bells” and notices one of the gifts for Granny is a bird cage with a little yellow canary inside. In a move a little too clever for Sylvester, he re-wraps his gift and switches tags with Granny’s gift.

Granny soon emerges excited for Christmas. She’s a bit puzzled when she opens her gift and finds a rubber mouse, but quickly realizes the tags must have been switched. When she goes to give Sylvester his mouse she finds a contented cat and an empty bird cage, feathers floating in the air. She grabs him and starts smacking him on his rear and out pops Tweety, none too pleased. She dangles some mistletoe over the little bird and tries to get Sylvester to be nice, but it’s a non-starter.

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Yeah, this isn’t going to work. Nice try, Granny.

From here the cartoon becomes a pretty typical Tweety vs Sylvester face-off. Tweety is in his cage and Sylvester is going to try his hardest to get that bird. Sylvester get his hands on the little canary, only to be directed to a Christmas present for him which turns out to be a giant dog. Sylvester tries to use a toy crane to snatch Tweety’s cage, only to accidentally grab Granny instead which earns him a few whacks with a broom. A classic Looney Tunes gag is utilized in which Sylvester cuts a hole in the ceiling to retrieve Tweety’s cage, only for Tweety to hop out and replace himself with a stick of dynamite. The explosion occurs offscreen, and Sylvester quietly lowers the now battered cage back into place before emerging from the ceiling a smoldering wreck. A Sylvester as Native American gag plays out next, only for Tweety to produce a cowboy outfit and pop gun, which wouldn’t you know, ends up firing like a real gun right in Sylvester’s face. Tweety then tries to take a ride on a model train around the Christmas tree, and Sylvester adds additional pieces of track to the train so it drives right in his mouth. The big dog from earlier is waiting though, and once Sylvester eats Tweety the dog eats him forcing Granny to swat the dog until Sylvester pops out, and then do the same to the cat in order to free Tweety.

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Take that, cat!

By now Granny is fed up that none of her pets can get along, especially with it being Christmas! She declares that they will get along and we next see a shot of the three animals from behind as Granny is seated at a piano playing a Christmas tune. The camera eventually circles around and we see over-sized Christmas stamps have been placed over Sylvester and the dog’s mouths while Tweety is free to sing happily. The end!

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It just wouldn’t be a Looney Tunes short if someone didn’t get shot in the face.

As I said, this a pretty straight-forward Tweety cartoon with Sylvester trying different schemes to get the bird, only for Tweety to outsmart him. All the while Tweety is free to break the fourth wall and talk into the camera uttering his typical catch phrases. Granny at least adds a fun dynamic as she gets involved in foiling most of Sylvester’s schemes and the Christmas theme is worked into almost all of the gags in some way. I also appreciate that all of the characters are happy that “Santa came” and no other origin for those gifts is suggested. Lets keep the kids in the dark, right? This is a fun short though, and while I don’t think it measures up to the Disney Christmas shorts from that era it’s still good enough. In the 90s, Cartoon Network could be counted on to play this and other non Looney Tunes Christmas shorts around the holidays, but they basically ditched all of that programming and kicked it on over to Boomerang, which can also no longer be counted on to show these. It used to be readily available on Youtube, but it would seem Warner has cracked down on that practice as I had a hard time finding it there so if you want to watch it I recommend getting the Looney Tunes Golden Collection which has this plus over 300 other cartoons and is usually pretty cheap, like under $40 cheap. There may not be a lot of Christmas cartoons in that set, but how can you go wrong with nearly 400 Looney Tunes cartoons? And you still have time to add it to your list for Santa!


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