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Tiny Toon Adventures, often referred to simply as Tiny Toons, is an American animated television series created by Tom Ruegger and produced by Amblin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. It began production as a result of Warner Bros. reinstating its animation studio in 1989 after a decade of dormancy. During the 1980s, the new studio only worked on revivals of the classic characters; meaning that Tiny Toon Adventures was the first of many original animated series from the studio. The cartoon was the first animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation during the animation renaissance of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The pilot episode, The Looney Beginning, aired as a prime-time special on CBS on September 14, 1990; while the series itself was featured in first-run syndication for the first two seasons. The last season was aired on Fox Kids. The series ended production in 1992 in favor of Animaniacs, however, two specials were produced in 1994. In 1997, the show was aired on Kids' WB during weekday mornings.
Tiny Toon Adventures is a cartoon set in the fictional town of Acme Acres, where most of the Tiny Toons and Looney Tunes characters live. The characters attend Acme Looniversity, a school whose faculty primarily consists of the mainstays of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Wile E. Coyote and Elmer Fudd. In the series, the university is founded to teach cartoon characters how to become funny. The school is not featured in every episode, as not all of its storylines are centered around the school.
Like the Looney Tunes, the series is derived from cartoon violence (e.g. anvils falling on someone, liberal use of explosives) and slapstick. The series parodies and references the current events of the early 1990s and Hollywood culture. Occasionally, episodes delve into veiled ethical and morality stories of ecology, self-esteem, and crime.
The series centers on a group of young cartoon characters who attend a school called Acme Looniversity to be the next generation of Looney Tunes characters. Most of the Tiny Toons characters were designed to resemble younger versions of Warner Bros.' most popular Looney Tunes animal characters by exhibiting similar traits and looks.
The two main characters are both rabbits: Buster Bunny, a blue male rabbit, and Babs Bunny, a pink female rabbit. Other major characters in the cast are generally nonhuman as well. These include Plucky Duck, a green male duck; Hamton J. Pig, a pink male pig; Fifi La Fume, a purple-and-white female skunk; Shirley the Loon, a white female loon; Dizzy Devil, a purple Tasmanian devil; Furrball, a blue cat; Sweetie Bird, a pink canary; Calamity Coyote, a bluish-gray coyote; Little Beeper, a red-orange roadrunner; and Gogo Dodo, a dodo. Two human characters, Elmyra Duff and Montana Max, are regarded as the main villains of the series and also are students of Acme Looniversity. As villains, Elmyra is seen as an extreme pet lover while Montana Max is a spoiled rich brat who either owns lots of toys or polluting factories. Supporting characters included Li'l Sneezer, a gray mouse with powerful sneezes; Concord Condor, a purple condor; Byron Basset, a usually sleeping basset hound; Bookworm, a green worm with glasses; Arnold the Pit Bull, a muscular white pit bull; Fowlmouth, a white rooster; Barky Marky, a brown dog, and Mary Melody, a young African American human girl.
Feeding off the characters are the more traditional Looney Tunes such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig among others. Much of the adults teach classes at Acme Looniversity and serve as mentors to the Tiny Toons while others fill secondary positions as needed.
The series and the show's characters were developed by series producer, head writer and cartoonist Tom Ruegger, division leader Jean MacCurdy, associate producer and artist Alfred Gimeno and story editor/writer Wayne Kaatz. Among the first writers on the series were Jim Reardon, Tom Minton, and Eddie Fitzgerald. The character and scenery designers included Alfred Gimeno, Ken Boyer, Dan Haskett, Karen Haskett, and many other artists and directors.
One episode was co-written by three then-teenage girls who were fans of the show.
|Tress MacNeille||Babs Bunny|
Wile E. Coyote (1 episode only)
|Maurice LaMarche||Dizzy Devil|
In order to complete 65 episodes for the 1st season, Warner Bros. and Amblin Entertainment contracted several different animation houses. These animation studios included Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now known as TMS Entertainment), Wang Film Productions, AKOM, Freelance Animators New Zealand, Encore Cartoons, StarToons, and Kennedy Cartoons. Tokyo Movie Shinsha also animated the series' opening sequence. Warner Bros. staff disliked working with Kennedy Cartoons due to the studio's inconsistent quality, and episodes that they animated were often subject to multiple re-takes. In other cases, such as the debut episode "The Looney Beginning", portions of Kennedy-animated episodes were re-animated by another studio.
Tiny Toon Adventures was made with a higher production value than standard television animation. It had a cel count that was more than double that of most television animation. The series had about 25,000 cels per episode instead of the standard 10,000, making it unique in that characters moved more fluidly. Pierre De Celles, an animation producer, described storyboarding for the series as "fun but a big challenge because I always had a short schedule, and it's not always easy to work full blast nonstop".
During the development of the show Steven Spielberg said that Warner Bros. would use a full orchestra, which some thought too expensive and impossible, but they ended up agreeing. Warner Bros. selected Bruce Broughton to write the theme (for which he would win a Daytime Emmy along with Tom Ruegger and Wayne Kaatz, who both worked with Broughton on the lyrics) and serve as music supervisor. In addition to scoring 11 episodes, Broughton chose 26 other composers to score each different episode: Julie Bernstein (1 episode) Steve Bernstein (2 episodes) Steven Bramson (5 episodes; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation) Don Davis (5 episodes; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation) John Debney (2 episodes) Ron Grant (5 episodes) Les Hooper (1 episode) Carl Johnson (1 episode) Elliot Kaplan (1 episode) Arthur Kempel (4 episodes) Ralph Kessler (1 episode) Albert Lloyd Olson (13 episodes; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation) Hummie Mann (2 episodes) Dennis McCarthy (2 episodes) Joel McNeely (3 episodes) Peter Myers (1 episode) Laurence Rosenthal (1 episode) William Ross (9 episodes) Arthur B. Rubinstein (3 episodes) J. Eric Schmidt (1 episode) David Slonaker (1 episode) Fred Steiner (7 episodes) Morton Stevens (4 episodes) Richard Stone (17 episodes; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation) Stephen James Taylor (1 episode; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation) Mark Watters (8 episodes; also a contributor for Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation)
Films and television specials
A feature-length movie was released direct-to-video in 1992, entitled Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation. This was later re-edited and aired as part of the series. The length of the movie is 73 minutes. Fox aired It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special in primetime on December 6, 1992. This episode is a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life. The Tiny Toon Spring Break Special was aired on Fox during primetime on March 27, 1994. Fox aired Tiny Toons' Night Ghoulery in primetime on May 28, 1995.
In 1992, The Plucky Duck Show was produced as a spin-off for Fox Kids, based on the character Plucky Duck. Except for the premiere episode The Return of Batduck, the show was composed of recycled Plucky-centric episodes from the series.
In 1998, a spin-off entitled Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain debuted on Kids WB. This series featured the Elmyra character as well as Pinky and the Brain, two characters who were originally on Animaniacs before receiving their own series, also entitled Pinky and the Brain. Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain picks up after Pinky leaves off where Pinky and the Brain become Elmyra's pets after Brain accidentally destroys their original home, ACME Labs, during an experiment.
Both spin-offs were unsuccessful and were cancelled after one season.
The show received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the show's characters (particularly Buster, Babs, and Plucky), writing, humor, and music. Despite this, the show also received criticism, with most of the criticism for the show being targeted at its animation quality, as well as some of the humor being hit-or-miss.
Most viewers and fans praised the animation quality from Tokyo Movie Shinsa (TMS). Many consider the episodes animated by TMS to be the best of the show, with great animation quality, better timing and representation of the dialogue, and better facial expressions and emotions from the characters.
The quality from Wang Film Productions received mixed reviews. Some of the episodes animated by Wang were praised, while others were criticized for being sloppy and uneven.
AKOM also received mixed reviews. Some of the episodes animated by AKOM were praised, while others were criticized not just for the poor quality of the animation, but also the bad timing and representation of the humor and dialogue.
StarToons received a mixed to negative reception. The quality of the animation in all three of the episodes it animated was criticized, although Thirteensomething and It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special did receive positive reviews, mostly for the overall plot of those episodes.
The rest of the animation houses that animated the show received generally negative reviews, with many considering the animation quality from them to be messy and hard to watch. Even the Warner Bros. staff themselves disliked working with Kennedy Cartoons due to it's bad animation.
Awards and Nominations
Daytime Emmy Awards
- Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Ken Boyer, Art Leonardi, Art Vitello, Paul Dini, and Sherri Stoner) (1991)
- Won award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition (presented to William Ross for “Fields of Honey”) (1991)Won award for Outstanding Original Song (presented to Bruce Broughton, Wayne Kaatz, and Tom Ruegger for "the main title theme") (1991)
- Nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, Rich Arons, and Art Leonardi) (1992)
- Won award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition (presented to Mark Watters for “The Love Disconnection”) (1992)
- Won award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program (presented to Nicholas Hollander, Tom Ruegger, Paul Dini, and Sherri Stoner) (1992)
- Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, Rich Arons, Byron Vaughns, Ken Boyer, Alfred Gimeno, and David West) (1993)
- Won award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition (presented to Steven Bramson for “The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain”) (1993)
- Nominated for Best Animated Television Program (1992)
- Nominated for Best Animated Television Program (1993)
- Nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (Steven Spielberg, Tom Ruegger, Paul Dini, Sherri Stoner, Dave Marshall, Glen Kennedy, Rich Aarons) (1991)
Young Artist Awards
- Won award for Best New Cartoon Series (1989-1990)
- Nominated for Outstanding Young Voice-Over in an Animated Series or Special (Whitby Hertford) (1991-1992)
Environmental Media Awards
- Won EMA Award for Children's Animated series (for the episode Whales Tales) (1991)
In January 2009, IGN named Tiny Toon Adventures as the 41st in the Top 100 Animated TV Shows.
Among the same time that Tiny Toon Adventures premiered, a quarterly children's magazine based on the series was published for at least seven issues. Also, various storybooks were published by the Little Golden Book company, including a few episode adaptations and some original stories (Lost in the Fun House and Happy Birthday, Babs!). Tiny Toon Adventures also had a comic book series made by Warner Bros and DC. The characters also made occasional cameo appearances in the Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain comic books.
Toys and video games
Since its debut, numerous video games based on Tiny Toons have been released. There have been no less than nine titles based on the series released after its original television run and as recently as 2002. Many companies have held the development and publishing rights for the games, including Konami (during the 1990s), Atari, NewKidCo, Conspiracy Games, Warthog, Terraglyph Interactive Studios, and Treasure. Toys for the series included plush dolls and plastic figures.
On July 29, 2008, Warner Home Video released Season 1, Volume 1 of Tiny Toon Adventures on DVD in Region 1. Much like the concurrent DVD releases of Animaniacs & Pinky and the Brain, the series was released concurrently on DVD with Freakazoid. How I Spent My Vacation was released on DVD on August 21, 2012. The third volume, entitled Tiny Toon Adventures - Volume 3: Crazy Crew Rescue was released on January 8th, 2013. It includes all 13 season 2 episodes and the first 4 episodes from season 3. Initially when the set was announced, the content list did not contain the season 2 episode "Elephant Issues" due to it including the controversial "One Beer" segment. However, it was later announced that Volume 3 would, in fact, contain the episode, thanks to lobbying from fans of the series. In the early 1990s, Warner Bros. had released several videos, including Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation (a direct-to-video release which later aired as a four-part episode), Best of Buster and Babs, Two Tone Town, Tiny Toon Big Adventures, Tiny Toon: Island Adventures, Tiny Toon Adventures: Music TV, Tiny Toon: Fiendishly Funny Adventures, Tiny Toon: Night Ghoulery and Tiny Toons: It's a Wonderful Christmas Special.
|DVD Name||Release date||Special Features||Notes|
||35||July 29, 2008||From Looney Tunes to Tiny Toons: A Wacky Evolution, featurette N/A|
|Season 1 Volume 2||30||April 21, 2009||None, aside from trailers.||Two episodes are edited on this set: "Tiny Toons Music Television" (a brief bit about a phone number to call during the wraparounds) and "Son of the Wacko World of Sports" (wraparounds and title cards removed).|
|Volume 3: Crazy Crew Rescues||17||January 8, 2013||None, aside from trailers.||The previously banned Season 2 episode, "Elephant Issues" is included in this set.|
According to writer Paul Dini, Tiny Toons originated as an idea by Terry Semel, then the president of Warner Bros., who wanted to "[…] inject new life into the Warner Bros. Animation department," and at the same time create a series with junior versions of Looney Tunes characters. Semel proposed that the new series would be a show based on Looney Tunes where the characters were either young versions of the original Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters or new characters as the offsprings of the original characters. The idea of a series with the basis of younger versions of famous characters was common at the time; the era in which Tiny Toons was produced had such cartoons as Muppet Babies, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Tom & Jerry Kids and The Flintstones Kids. Warner Bros. chose to do the same because Spielberg wanted to make a series similar to Looney Tunes, as series producer/show-runner Tom Ruegger explained: "Well, I think in Warner Bros. case, they had the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg on a project (...) But he didn't want to just work on characters that Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob McKimson and Bob Clampett made famous and created. He wanted to be involved with the creation of some new characters." The result was a series similar to Looney Tunes without the use of the same characters.
In 1987, the Warner Bros. Animation studio approached Steven Spielberg to collaborate with Semel and Warner Bros. head of licensing Dan Romanelli on Semel's ideas. They eventually decided that the new characters would be similar to the Looney Tunes characters with no direct relation. However, Tiny Toons did not go into production then, nor was it even planned to be made for television; the series initially was to be a theatrical feature-length film.
In December 1988, Tiny Toons was changed from a film to a television series, with Jean MacCurdy overseeing production of the first 65 episodes. MacCurdy said that Tiny Toons was changed to a television series to "(...) reach a broader audience". For the series, MacCurdy hired Tom Ruegger, who previously wrote cartoons for Filmation and Hanna-Barbera, to be a producer. In January 1989, Ruegger and writer Wayne Kaatz began developing the characters and the setting of "Acme Acres" with Spielberg.
In January 1989, Warner Bros. Animation was choosing its voice actors from over 1,200 auditions and putting together its 100-person production staff. In April 1989, full production of series episodes began with five overseas animation houses and a total budget of 25 million dollars. The first 65 episodes of the series aired in syndication on 135 stations, beginning in September 1990. During that time, Tiny Toons was a huge success and got higher ratings than its Disney Afternoon competitors in some affiliates. After a successful run in syndication, Fox got the rights for season 3. Production of the series halted in late-1992 to make way for Animaniacs to air the following year.
Tiny Toon Adventures, along with Animaniacs, continued to rerun in syndication through the 1990s into the early-2000s (decade) after production of new episodes ceased.
In the US, the series re-ran on Nickelodeon from 1995–1999 and again from 2002–2004 (albeit the Warner Bros logo omitted from the intro), and also aired on Kids WB from 1997–2000, Cartoon Network from 1999–2001, and finally on Nicktoons Network from 2002–2005. On October 27, 2012, the series aired on broadcast television once again on Vortexx with the special "Tiny Toons' Night Ghoulery" and again on November 24, 2012. The Hub began to re-run the series on July 3rd, 2013. The series stopped airing on The Hub in July of 2015.
In Canada, the series re-ran on YTV from 1996–1999 and Teletoon from 2002–2006.
In the UK, the series aired in reruns on Cartoon Network from 1999–2002 and Boomerang from 2000–2006 and again, one more time on December 17, 2011 with the episode "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special".
In Middle East the series re-ran on Spacetoon from 2000 from in Indonesia 2005 to 2016.
In Australia, the series re-ran on Cartoon Network from 2002 to 2005 and on GO! from 2009 to 2010.