Play Time: Looney Tunes revamp

Warner Bros has just launched a reboot of the Looney Tunes franchise, as a Cartoon Network sitcom in which Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are housemates, living in suburbia with equally Looney neighbors.  Heidi MacDonald has an not-impressed reaction at The Beat, in which she also comments about previous attempts to update and reinterpret the franchise (Tiny Toons, Loonatics Unleashed, etc).

Assuming for the sake of argument that this really has to happen, here's a challenge for writers or artists: How would you overhaul the Looney Tunes franchise?  Give us a pitch, with character designs, characterizations, a description of how they'd be handled, and/or whatever it takes to get your reinterpretation across.  Be as realistic or as fantastic as you see fit.


  • At the risk of being ostracized, I didn't think it was that bad actually. Course, it was just the one episode.

    Now PROBLEM SOLVERZ, that show blows.

  • And at the risk of being terminally uncooperative:  I wouldn't.  I'd do something else.  Looney Tunes will always be Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng and Bob McKimson and Tex Avery et al. for me.  I just despise franchise-for-the-sake-of-franchise reboots and reimaginings and remakes.  I'd do something of my own instead.
  • As I said, it's intended as a purely recreational/creative exercise. :)  And one might make a point such as yours by demonstrating just how badly such a remake could turn out....?
  • I think it's been adequately demonstrated by every non-canonical version of Looney Tunes.
  • Well forget it then.  I apologize for suggesting something that I thought could be fun.
  • Honestly, I like the overall conceit of the challenge I just don't like the subject. I've been thinking about it since you posted and I just can't fathom what I'd actually want to do with it. It's just so perfect in it's original form, by the same token I don't know that I'd ever be able to reboot/remake something like Ren & Stimpy either. 
  • @JasonAQuest, I think this is a good idea — but you've picked a really difficult challenge for first go.  I, personally, have NO IDEA how I'd revamp Looney Tunes or approach it for the modern day.
  • Personally, I suggest we leave character revamps to Whitechapel. Let's do our own thing here, OK?
  • @RussellLissau, as a writer, I'm not allowed to participate in Whitechapel revamps because of Warren's "no fiction" rule.  And I'd like to.  Also, the only revamps on Whitechapel are the ones Warren decides on, not ones the forum membership come up with.

    So, I'm still all in favor of having them here.  This just seems like an especially difficult one to me.
  • LOONATICS, despite a really dated attempt at being XTRM! wasn't actually all that bad.

    My first (not necessarily good, mind you) thought is this: the style of cartoons has changed since the Looney Toons were released, so I'd have them as, essentially, out of work actors. The episodes would have them trying to find work by guest starring in toons that are pastiches of other cartoons. So Bugs Bunny in Naruto.

  • @Russell — I have no interest in that.  It's not what I do.  Where can I go for a re-imagining challenge where I can submit something that plays to my skillset?
  • Well, Its hard to write a script for a revamp in terms of our purposes here, but as a general principle, I would take it to the edge and aim it at adults. The originals were basically for adults and had an edge. I wouldn't go all the way to Ren and Stimpy, but The Simpsons has about the right mix of topical and universal humor.
  • One of the things I would not do, is set it up "in a household." each and every Looney Tunes was unique, and offered its own premise. The characters remained the same... or rather, evolved over time. To reboot it, you recapture the tone of the characters, and reimagine the scenario each time out.
  • Jason - Sorry, I didn't mean to rain on your or anybody else's parade...just expressing my own bias.  I usually don't have such strong opinions on these revamp things because they tend to be about superhero characters that I couldn't give a rat's ass about...but Looney Tunes is SACRED.

  • I'm not big on revamps or reimaginings, either, especially not for a property this well known and beloved. 

    What I would do, then, is aim to preserve the spirit of the originals without copying them. First thing that occurs to me is to make Wile E Coyote into protagonist of his own show, keeping tot he rules established by Jones et al. What does Wile E wants? To catch and eat some live animals. How does he want to do it? By overengineering a brilliant but unlikely series of contraptions. If the contraptions don't fail him, Wile E screws it up anyway. 

    Same rules for music, dialogue, art and storytelling. I think trying to make it hip is a mistake: the internet, extreme sports, reality TV shows... none of those belong in the Looney Toons. Rockets and dynamite and bear traps do.

    Try to do more in the same style as the original without copying or bastardizing.
  • edited May 2011
    Been thinking about this ever since Jason brought it up. My first reaction was pretty much like Steve's - leave it the way it was. But that would mean sticking to the old cartoons and not making new ones. So, a revised leave-it: Stick to the original style and setting, also as an alternative to today's rather generic animation styles.

    If I could pull it off, I'd even stick to stop-motion animation rather than computerizing it. But the budgets probably wouldn't swing that way. So:

    - Hire the best animators the budget can carry:
    - Make it 2D. Strong, flat colors. If anybody suggests highlights and shading, have them watch SPACE JAM till they stop. Painted backgrounds optional, in the original style, but maybe with more current designs.
    - Aim for a grown-up market. Afternoon or evening slots, not morning cartoons. Aiming at kids means selling to parents. And that means toning down anything that's offensive.
    - Heck, totally be offensive!
    - Another thing I'd keep is the seven-minute format. You can get away with a lot of mindless fun in seven minutes, but in a twenty mnutes episode you need a minimum of plot.

    Changes I'd make:
    - More female characters. Ethnic diversity isn't that much of an issue since they're all animals anyway. Of course, the human characters should be more diverse than they are.
    - Revisit the characters to give them a bit of depth, get rid of some stereotypes. But not too much. What makes them strong is their simplicity. They work fine as templates for all kinds of stories and roles. Just make sure you know who to use when and how.
    - I wonder if we'd get away with turning Yosemite Sam into some kind
    of tea party style republican. Or maybe Elmer? Just as pointers. Character revamps should be modest rather than radical.
    - Some of the formulas worked better than others. Bugs & Daffy were flexible enough to always pull off something extraordinary. Wylie & Roadrunner, on the other hand, are more formulaic. Their stories should eiteher have more of an arc or be shorter, maybe even down to Spy vs. Spy size fillers. Tweety & Sylvester are somewhere in-between, I think.
    - Search for modern themes and TV formats that work with a Looney Tunes treatment. They used to have these perfect parodies of current movies & tv shows. I wonder how a Bugs Bunny version of CSI would look like? Fringe would probably be too easy.

  • (Sorry for the snarkiness last night.  A pinched nerve + upcoming surgery for same + upcoming Mother's Day/birthday + housemate with the maturity of a 16-year-old = more irritable than usual.)
  • Wasn't this done already, and called Drawn Together...? 

    Which, speaking as an idiot, was fucking hilarious.
  • Urk. That revamp sounds like they're taking the Loony Tunes and removing the bite by making them conform to standard sticom formula.


    Looney Tunes needs fangs. It needs to have something that will appeal to kids as well as adults.

    I don't know about you, but I remember that my first exposure to classics were adaptations done with Loony Tunes characters. I remember a version of Frankenstein starring Porky Pig. Now, I'm not saying that a Loony Tunes revamp should be "Loony Tunes Classics Animated." Far from it. But.

    Something that Max said rang with me. Leave the characters as they are, mostly, but give them a modernized satirical bite. He suggested Yosemite Sam as a Tea Partier. Yes, and how about Elmer as a redneck. Marvin the Martian could be used to satirize terrorism.

    Basically, the shorts (and I agree with Max that they need to be short) would be on two levels: one for the kids, classic over-the-top antics of these beloved characters. But on a second level, contemporary satire that will make the parents laugh. That's what makes the best animated movies work so very very well. Despicable Me and Megamind worked on those two levels. I haven't seen Hop, but I'm told that one also does it quite nicely, playing with the generation gap/slacker problems.
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