Paris and Los Angeles-based Cyber Group Studios and WarnerMedia’s Boomerang International have given the green light to Season 2 of “Taffy,” an original 2D HD animated comedy made in the spirit of “Looney Tunes” and “Tom & Jerry” but targeting modern audiences.
Based on an original creation by Cyber Group Studios and developed with Boomerang, Season 2’s 78 new seven-minute episodes will be aired by Boomerang in international markets and in France on the M6 Group-owned Gulli channel. The renewal, which expands “Taffy” to a total 156 episodes, comes in the run-up to this year’s 2020 Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival where “Taffy” competes in official selection in the TV-film category.
Drinking deep at the well of classic 2D knockabout comedy of feral rivalry, “Taffy” turns on Bentley, a loyal hound dog living in pampered luxury with billionaire lady owner Mrs Muchmore, and his endless and spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to out and oust raccoon Taffy, a raccoon whom Mrs. Muchmore takes in when Taffy poses as a beatifically wide-eyed, fluffy Angora cat. Bentley just can’t believe she doesn’t see Taffy for the musky varmint the animal really is.
Already half written, Season 2 will “push the comedy limits of the series – taking Taffy, Bentley and Mrs. Muchmore on Summer and Winter vacations in lush locations, meeting new great personalities and characters,” Cyber Group Studios chairman & CEO Sissmann said in a written statement.
“I wanted it crazier,” he told Variety. Action will take place at the mansion but also at Summer and Winter resorts. One new character will be Mrs. Allperfect, a perfectionist who triples up in different roles – rather like the butler figure in Season 1, as head of the local country club and both resorts. Though still mightily concern to expose Taffy, Bentley becomes besotted with Mrs. Allperfect’s dog, Ferrari, a coastguard, who cuts a fine figure on the ski slope.
Annecy will showcase an episode from Season 1, which establishes series parameters that are mostly unlikely to disappear in Season 2.
Set in the vintage ambience of Mrs Muchmore’s white-marbled chateau and its grounds in a verdant part of the world, “Taffy” has zany chase-action and slapstick involving the body stretch warp and physical punishment of classic toon comedy.
“We wanted to create something that was timeless,” said Sissmann, who co-writes the series with writer-director Mike de Seve (“Beavis and Butt-Head Do America,” “Gigantosaurus”).
In Ep. 1 of Season 1 alone, Bentley suffers a sucker punch which lays him out, gets stuck in a hedge, mouth gaping, has his tongue-slapped by Taffy, elongates his seemingly rubber body a few dozen yards to chase Taffy to the properties gates with his hind haunches still trapped in the hedge, only to come crashing back into the hedge when his elasticity wears off.
The biggest gags are however, and as ever, not so much the slapstick as the recognizably human emotions it sparks, especially in Bentley who wears his heart on his sleeve. In hedgers Ep. 1 he rides an emotional roller-coaster, gloating, sneering and even dancing a gleeful jig when he senses triumph; reacting with bat-eyed or open mouthed aghastment, jaw-gritting resentment or sorrowful rage when he tastes defeat.
“‘Taffy’ is a great success story, which stems from a valuable relationship with a European production partner to commission a series for Boomerang that can travel across international,” said Cecilia Persson, VP of programming & content strategy, Turner EMEA Kids, acquisitions & co-productions international.
She added: “The show is a perfect fit with our channel’s DNA and has enjoyed a strong performance – proving that this kind of comedy is truly universal.”
What’s new in “Taffy” is that it pushes the comedy into a modern age – with robots, machines, a fitness instructor – and the gags reach the near surreal.
“I wanted to go back to the traditional roles of cartoon: Simple stories, massive gags, beautiful images, a lot of action comedy, or comedy comedy. But I wanted to do something totally unreal,” said Sissmann.
One recurring example: If Taffy’s wearing a red neck ribbon, Mrs. Muchmore thinks he’s a kitty cat, if not, she sees a raccoon.
Taffy is energized by a classic fast-paced orchestra jazz score.
Aesthetics also hark back to comedy classics.“The most important things of course are the gags and the rhythm. But we wanted it all to happen in a nice universe,” said director-designer Ahmed Guerrouache (“Marcus Level,” “Atomic Betty”).
In “Taffy,” trees are green, but the hills shaded a pale aqueous blue. There’s a sense that this is lovely, fresh-aired countryside.
“We watched a lot of Maurice Noble [Chuck Jones right-hand man and favorite background artist]. Our thinking was: ‘Let’s make something that looks like it’s a classic that’s been left on a shelf.’”
That fed through into character design, said Guerrouache, who teaches at legendary Paris animation school Les Gobelins.
He added: “We tried to do real frame-by-frame animation, even if we used Adobe Animate to produce it. Kids love simple lines, something they can relate to and easily understand. Hence the art direction. Characters’ style is really simple, the way it was done for ‘Bugs Bunny.’”