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"Loonatics Unleashed": Average Looney, Sort of Tooney

Warner Bros.’ new animated action-comedy Loonatics Unleashed brings us yet more clones of their most famous characters. Redesigned as superheroes in the year 2772 and given superpowers by a meteor that knocked the city planet of Acmetropolis’ axis off kilter, six “descendents” of the classic Looney Tunes characters protect the city from villainy. How do they stack up?

Bugs Bunny becomes Ace Bunny, the leader of the team. He has laser vision and “optical enhancement,” superpowers that aren’t a natural fit for a smart-aleck rabbit. His character design is cool, sharp, and futuristic, which works well for a series set in the year 2772. His voice, though, is another story. Charlie Schlatter keeps the “Bugs” voice more or less intact, but his accent just gets worse and worse as the premiere episode, “Loonatics on Ice,” progresses. The character design says that Ace is bold, strong, and calm. But having the old voice come out of the new costume makes him seem sly. He also spews puns and old jokes in every scene: he uses a variation of “What’s up, Doc?” three times in this episode alone! I understood the first use of the old joke, but it should not have been repeated. Using it even twice cheapened it.

Daffy Duck becomes Danger Duck, who has a “power orb randomizer” and “quantum quack.” Somehow that means he can teleport short distances and that he’s got some sort of magical egg that he throws at enemies. Duck’s powers make more sense than Ace’s do for him. His voice is kept somewhat intact too, and it works better with his character design than it does with Ace’s. Duck’s design is slick, and his voice shows that. He has the same problem as his counterpart, Daffy, never getting noticed and always wanting the glory. This works because it is a general characteristic that will work with a variety of scenarios and characters, as opposed to Ace’s characteristics, which are so “Bugs Bunny” that anything that sets him apart seems foreign.

Wile E. Coyote becomes Tech E. Coyote, with “magnetism” and “molecular regeneration.” These superpowers are not used much in the episode, though the latter means he can bounce back from getting squashed. Tech’s true ability, though, resides in his ability to make high-tech devices. This is the cleverest of all the superpowers and fits well with his background. It’s actually kind of nice to see a Coyote’s gadgets actually working.

Road Runner becomes Rev Runner, who has sonic speed and “global positioning.” The global positioning helps them locate villains, although how this power works is still a mystery. His character design is the coolest of them all. He has sharp points and a sleek, rocket-designed look that just emanates speed. The one odd thing is his voice. As Rev, Rob Paulson talksveryfast, which seems a bit of a cliché.

The Tasmanian Devil becomes Slam Tasmanian, whose superpowers include “tornado maximizer” and “thunder mode.” Again, we have superpowers that make sense. These powers come in handy during this episode, as Slam gets more done than the other heroes combined. The character design is nothing original: except for the fancy superhero outfit, Slam looks very much like Taz and has the same old voice, which in this case is comforting. I don’t think we could handle the cacophony that would accompany his personality.

Last is Lola Bunny, who morphs into Lexi Bunny. Her superpowers include sonic hearing and “brain blast.” Here we have one superpower that makes sense, and another which doesn’t. More troubling is the way “Loonatics on Ice” treats her as a sidekick, someone who is more love child than superhero. She doesn’t get into the action much during this episode, and she complains “girlishly” that sweaters make her look fat and dances around the Loonatics’ tower. And her character design is weird. She has hair, blond bangs hanging over her eyes. The other characters have just their regular feathers or fur, but Lexi even gets a ribbon. This is irritating and makes her stand out in a bad way, marking her as a token female in the group.

Despite some of the complaints I have with the show, I think it will have great appeal for kids, and that adults could enjoy it once they overcome their reluctance to accept a new Looney Tunes show. Some people argue that these characters are hallow, sacred, and should not be defiled in this way. To them I say that these characters are universal and transcend the boundary of time. We owe the younger generation a chance to get to know these characters in their own way, and Loonatics Unleashed may be their opportunity to do so.

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