The Looney Tunes Show

As pleasant as it is to see the characters again, "The Looney Tunes Show" represents a miscalculation -- and basic misunderstanding of the franchise.

Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/ Foghorn Leghorn - Jeff Bergman

As pleasant as it is to see the characters again, “The Looney Tunes Show” represents a miscalculation — and basic misunderstanding of the franchise. Popularized through slapstick-laden shorts, this new Cartoon Network series (synergistically provided by Warner Bros. Animation) reconstructs the characters into a half-hour sitcom, with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as mismatched buddies, and other players popping in along the way. Bugs thus becomes Daffy’s straight man in a program that proves short on sight-gags and action, static, and nearly crumbles under the weight of warmed-over stories despite the odd amusing moment.

Bugs and Daffy (both voiced credibly by Jeff Bergman) share a house (platonically), and in the premiere, Bugs grudgingly agrees to go on a gameshow with the self-absorbed duck — “Besties,” in which best friends seek to prove how much they know about each other. This produces a bit of a crisis, since Daffy is stumped even by softballs like “What is your roommate’s favorite vegetable?”

A second episode, meanwhile, has the two crashing a hoity-toity country club, where Bugs begins dating a tennis-playing rabbit, Lola, who quickly goes from dream hare to nightmare.

While the individual episodes are broken up by little “Merrie Melodies” vignettes — an Elmer Fudd rap in one, a Marvin the Martian ditty in another — they basically follow slim sitcom storylines throughout. As such, the producers have managed to recast their animated treasures as a wannabe live-action comedy, the main difference being the protagonists don’t wear clothes.

OK, so it’s kind of funny when the rodent-under-the-fridge problem turns out to be Speedy Gonzales. The bottom line is the original cartoons were built around slapstick and chases, and probably to avoid all that violence (even of the animated variety), the new version feels inert by comparison.

“The Looney Tunes Show” certainly isn’t dethpicable, but it has to go down as a disappointment — more for adults than kids who aren’t as acquainted with the full-strength shorts. Because while puns and wordplay have always had a place in “Tunes”-ville, building an animated show around sitcom-style one-liners is looney for all the wrong reasons.

Popular on Variety

The Looney Tunes Show

Animated Series; Cartoon Network,Tues. May 3, 8 p.m.

Production: Produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Supervising producers, Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone; line producer, Wade Wisins; director, Jeff Siergey; story editor, Hugh Davidson; writers, Davidson, Larry Dorf, Ben Falcone, Rachel Ramras; lead character design, Jessica Borutski; music, Andy Sturmer; casting/voice direction, Collette Sunderman. 30 MIN.

Cast: Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/ Foghorn Leghorn - Jeff Bergman

More TV

  • YouTube logo

    BBC Studios to Explore 'The Edge of Science' for YouTube Originals

    The BBC’s production division, BBC Studios, has won its first YouTube Originals commission, “The Edge of Science.” Starring presenter and science enthusiast Rick Edwards and YouTuber Colin Furze, “The Edge of Science” will carry out a range of stunts and experiments to explore if it’s possible to levitate. The presenters will meet the scientists behind [...]

  • Kirsten Dunst'On Becoming a God in

    Kirsten Dunst Talks 'Little Women,' 'Interview With a Vampire' Reboots

    Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she skyrocketed into stardom as Claudia in “Interview with a Vampire,” but now Dunst says her age is the only thing keeping her from reprising the role in a hypothetical reboot. “I mean I’m too old, right?,” she told Variety at the premiere of “On Becoming a God [...]

  • A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen,

    Variety to Forgo Annual Emmy Party for Donation to Planned Parenthood

    Variety has decided to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in lieu of hosting this year’s annual Emmy Awards nominees party in partnership with Women In Film. The decision comes in response to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 19 announcement that it will drop funding over the current administration’s “unethical” rule blocking the organization from discussing its [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    TV News Roundup: Rebel Wilson to Host First Australian Amazon Original Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, the NFL and Pluto TV announce the launch of a new channel, and Rebel Wilson is named as the host of the first Amazon original series to come out of Australia.  CASTING Rebel Wilson is set to host and executive produce the Australian Amazon original series “LOL: Last One Laughing,” the [...]

  • Moffatt Family with the Himba tribe

    U.K.’s Channel 4 Takes British Family to Africa in New Reality Show

    U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has greenlit new factual entertainment format “The British Tribe Next Door,” which will see a British family spend four weeks with a remote tribe in Namibia. The twist in this format is that, unlike most adventurers, the participants don’t say goodbye to the comforts of their home — instead, they take them with [...]

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content