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"Loonatics Unleashed": No Cheers from the Kiddies

by on September 14, 2005

“I feel like I’ve seen something like that before” -Gabriel, age 11

Gotta love kids for their brutal honesty. I had the chance to get an early look at KidsWB’s new Loonatics Unleashed and took advantage of the situation by watching it with my younger brothers: Gabriel, who’s 11, and Daniel, who’s 8. That way I could gauge the reaction of the target audience (and give them a chance to brag to their friends at school about how cool their older bro is). What I got was mostly stunned silence.

Both are usually chatterboxes while watching their favorite action shows, and they’ve even been known to point out inconsistencies in logic/plot/acting from time to time. During “Loonatics on Ice,” the series premiere, they were quiet: no laughing at the jokes; no wincing at the atrocious one liners; nothing.

Did they enjoy it? Lord knows I didn’t.

The characters completely fail to evoke the characters they’re obviously based on. Ace Bunny only manages to channel the obnoxious jackass aspect of Bugs but totally lacks his charm. Lexi Bunny merely stands arounds stating the obvious or adding moronic comments that have no bearing on the “story.” Tech E. Coyote’s mechanical inventions worked perfectly, a fact that sorely disappointed the young’uns. Rev Roadrunner moves fast and talks fast: no biggie there, except his speed seems to make him spontaneously combust, something else that is overlooked by the characters/writers. Danger Duck is the one character reminiscent of his Looney Tunes progenitor and the only interesting character for that matter. Slam Tazmanian is a carbon copy of Taz, but without the broken English.

I’ve seen some pretty lazily animated cartoons before, but Loonatics has got to be one of the worst. For an action cartoon there was very little action, and what little action it had was staged so blockily I would think the storyboard was a film of the animators slamming two action figures into each other. Add to that some of the most inconsistent facial drawings I have ever seen and you’ve got some painful stuff to watch.

Now, most of this I could tolerate if the show was the least bit creative, but it seems that’s too much to ask. For an 11-year-old, a feeling of déjà vu about certain elements is understandable, but to a seasoned action cartoon aficionado, the sheer amount of “borrowed” elements was astounding. Backgrounds blatantly lifted from Teen Titans and Batman Beyond; an Ice Viking ship’s bow that spits ice, like the fire-spitting ship in Thundercats; some admittedly cool hoverbikes that look like they were yoinked straight from C.O.P.S.

Another major disappointment is the villains. In this type of show one would expect to see an Elmer Fudd-type character obsessed with taking out the Loonatics Lex Luthor-style. Or Yosemite Sam as some invading armada leader with a temper to match his trigger finger. Marvin the Martian could easily transplant his Duck Dodgers persona into this show. Maybe that will change in future episodes, but here we’re just handed some not-very-clever Viking robots.

As I’ve already said, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Characters just prattle off “funny” dialogue without allowing any time or reaction for the “joke” while the action continues as if the character hadn’t said anything. I’ve come to accept that kind of thing in certain dubbed anime, but a series written in English has no excuse for such lackluster performance. The Loonatics’ origin doesn’t even make sense: a meteor smashes into the planet and the only thing that happened was that some animals got super powers? Send this one back to the oven, it’s not quite done yet.

Never has the phrase “Trying way too hard” applied to any series more than it does to Loonatics Unleashed. It tries so hard to mimic the shows that inspired it that it looks like a little kid in a Superman cape running around in circles in his backyard going “Whoosh!”

“I can’t believe he still uses this joke,” said Daniel about a lame takeoff of a classic “rabbit season, duck season” gag. I agree.

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