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Nappy Days: Looney Tunes DVD Goes Pint-Sized.

by on November 26, 2007

It’s funny—we take such time, energy and focus on giving our tots a staple diet of reading, writing and arithmetic that we forget how important it is to ensure they get the basic ingredients of comics, cartoons and comedy.

Might not be the most cerebral offer, but Baby Looney Tunes does have some beautifully rendered backgrounds.

If a picture dictionary is the start of applied writing, then should not Baby Looney Tunes be the first stage in applied animation? Otherwise, when our offspring finally come of age, how will they be ready for the satire, humor and, of course, excessive violence of Daffy, Bugs and Sylvester?

Baby Looney Tunes is another repurposing of the classic Warner Bros. characters. The setup is as simple as it really can get: these are pint sized versions of our classic characters all living under one cute root, supervised and moralized over by Nanny, Tweety’s infamous owner. Together they enjoy two 11-minute adventures per episode, each connected by a small musical number. Older viewers might notice some fairly strong resemblances to Muppet Babies. The stories range from Daffy stealing Taz’s favorite toy, to Tweety having fun with his shadow. There really isn’t any attempt at two-tier writing here. Unlike Sesame Street, there is no attempt to appeal to the adults suffering the kiddy hour with their tiny terrors. Baby Looney Tunes isn’t Looney Tunes “Lite”; in fact, it’s utterly weightless. This really is a cartoon for the youngest children, and given that this reviewer is over thirty, I would be lying if I didn’t say it was a hard watch. Quite simply, this wasn’t made for adults, or teens, or anyone above the age of six.

That’s not to say it’s bad; you just have to assess the product in context. This show was not made for me, and if you are having no trouble reading this awkward hack-fest of collected words, it’s probably not for you either. I would say that these harmless, simple, moral stories would appeal to the very young. You won’t find any classic Looney Tune violence, and you won’t find any comments or innuendos aimed at an older audience. This is very much a cartoon experience for those who are just getting their first shot of the television narcotic.

The visuals are bright and crisp, with some gentle washed-out backgrounds to envelop the simple animated characters. It is an endearing little setting and I must say, even this jaded reviewer found his thumb very close to a mouth-sucking reunion. It is all very well presented.

From an adult standpoint, Baby Looney Tunes suffers because the strong characters of the WB classics have been watered down to a virtually unrecognizable state. If you took the visuals and the voices away, there would be very little in terms of similarity between the young and old incarnations. The two that fare the best are Daffy and Taz, and as such spotlight the more interesting episodes. This dilution of characteristics, in turn, is created in part by the lack of the staple Looney Tunes ingredients of violence and pop culture references. Muppet Babies was a cute, dumbed down version of the Muppets, but it retained its whimsical nature and pop culture references, giving it a wider accessibility. To be fair, Muppet Babies was targeting an older audience, but the long term success of Sesame Street proves you can make a show for pre-schools that doesn’t have to drive the adults to the razor blades, and that suggests that Baby Looney Tunes has left some potential on the table. The ingredients for a two-tier show are there in the characters, but they are just not embraced in this end product.

The DVD in question, Volume 4, has an even consistency to the stories, spotlighting different characters and situations, which does offer a modicum of variety for any poor adult watching the show. The sing-a-longs are fairly catchy, and the characters are sweet if a little neutered. The special features are non-existent, offering a couple of promotional trailers for other WB products as the “bonus.” The packaging for the DVD is functional and the display menus pretty, but basic.

Baby Looney Tunes is a good show for the right audience. You can plonk the kid in front of this DVD, and let them enjoy it the simple, safe fun of this neutered Looney Tunes incarnation while you go off to play a violent video game. You know it makes sense.

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