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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tiny Toon Adventures - Season 1, Vol. 1
Tiny Toon Adventures - Season 1, Vol. 1
Warner Bros. // Unrated // July 29, 2008
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 25, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Series:

In 1990 Disney owned the syndicated afternoon animation market. Starting with 1987's Duck Tales, the company had a string of cartoon hits including Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers and Tale Spin (which would eventually be joined by Darkwing Duck and Goof Troop.) These half hour comic shows were well written and funny, and pushed the cartoons based on action figure lines off the schedule. This trend was noticed by the execs at Warner who reasoned that if Disney could make money with a syndicated show, surely they could too. They brought Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment on board and the result was Tiny Toon Adventures, a sort of second generation of Looney Toon characters. With inventive and comical scripts, high production values, full animation, and gags that appealed to adults as well as children, the show was an instant hit. This classic cartoon has finally made its way to DVD, albeit in the dreaded half-season format.

Not wanting to use Bugs Bunny and the other classic WB characters, this series consists of several younger cartoons that are none-to-subtle rip offs of the studio's famous icons. The stars are Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation) male and female version of Bugs. They are joined by Plucky Duck, a greedy fowl who is always trying to hog the spotlight but totally different from Daffy Duck: Where Daffy has black feathers, Plucky has green. Hampton Pig is a shy hog with a speech impediment, and Calamity Coyote creates hair-brained contraptions that never seem to work.

Added to the redesigned characters are a couple of totally new toons; Montana Max, a filthy rich kid who loves to lord his wealth over everyone one and Elmira, a young girl who is constantly chasing the "cutie bunnies" and wants to lavish possibly leathal attention on them. The whole group lives in Acme Acres where they attend Acme Looniversity. There they take classes in how to be a funny cartoon by none other than Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig and the rest of the Looney Toons gang.

Many of the half hour shows consists of three short cartoons featuring one or more of the characters surrounded by a framing segment. It's a nice arrangement. If one cartoon is a little lame or just doesn't hit, in a few minutes it will be over and the next one is more likely to hit. The cartoons themselves are fashioned after the old Looney Toons: silly and sometimes absurd the simple plots are mainly an excuse to get the action going. That's the case in arguably the most laugh-out-loud funny segment in this first set is "The Anvil Chorus." Plucky has been complaining through the framing sequences that he needs to star in a cartoon, and Babs and Buster finally give him what he wants. As the classical music piece plays (a selection from Verdi's "The Troubador", you'll recognize it) anvils fall from the sky right on Plucky. Over and over and over again, in time with the music of course, and with each anvil bigger than the last. While poor Plucky runs for his life, trying to avoid the falling weights, he gets stopped by an overbearing lady who identifies herself as a member of "Grown ups Against Funny Cartoons." She starts to complain about the large number of violent acts that have appeared in the cartoon so far but doesn't get far before an anvil falls on her. (As someone who was a child during the 'no violent cartoons' movement I always cheer at that part.)

The show has a lot of topical humor too, and some of it is dated today. A few of the references might fly over the head of someone who didn't live during the early 90's, such as Shirley the Loon, a parody of Shirley MacLaine and references to the Twilight Zone. They even do a full length parody of Citizen Kane, which is amusing, but much more hilarious if you've seen the classic film. Thankfully these are scattered far enough apart that younger viewers won't mind.

One of the shows great strengths, aside from the solid writing, is the fact that it was fully animated. Today computer are doing much of the grunt work when it comes to creating cartoons, but there was a time not too long ago when that wasn't the case. Most of the made for TV cartoons featured limited animation, which was much less expensive than a fully animated show. Full animation was usually reserved for theatrical releases. While it was cheaper, it looked horrid and even the youngest of viewers would soon be pointing out the segments that were used over and over again. Not so with Tiny Toons. Steven Spielberg insisted that the show have full animation, and it looks great. As a matter of fact it looks too good in some sections. There are parts where people are moving and objects are flying for no real reason other than to illustrate that no cost was being spared. This is a minor, nit-picky complaint, as I'll be the first to admit. When all is said and done, the quality of the animation is first rate.

Oh yeah, one last thing: Make sure you watch the credits at the end. They always hide one last joke there.

The DVD:


Audio:

This show comes with the original stereo soundtrack as well as a DD 5.1 mix. Both sound clean and the multichannel track works pretty well. The rears are used for sound effects and music mainly, but it gives the show a nice enveloping feel without overdoing it. Even though the soundtrack is nearly 20 years old, there aren't any defects. Hiss, dropouts, and distortion aren't a problem.

Video:

While I liked the audio, the video left a bit to be desired. Presented with its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the picture hasn't been cleaned up. There are plenty of instances of dirt and other minor print flaws and while these are never distracting, I was disappointed to see them. The colors are a bit muted, not as bright and vivid as they could be, and the image is a bit soft. While these aren't fatal flaws, the show doesn't look nearly as good as I was hoping.

Extras:

There's only one bonus item, a 23 minute look at the show From Looney Tunes to Tiny Toons: A Wacky Evolution. This traces the evolution of Tiny Toons from the original Looney Tunes shorts. With interviews with writers and animators, this is a fun and knowledgeable look at the show. The only complaint I have is that I was expecting a bit more.

Final Thoughts:

Tiny Toon Adventures is a great show. Filled with maniacal action and some terrifically funny gags, the program is sure to entertain children and adults alike. While some of the bits have aged, it's still filled with laughs. It is disappointing that the video has not been restored, but this set still gets a strong recommendation.

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