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Just lost my appetite and I haven't even had breakfast yet. THANKS, JOE.P.S. I once got my hands on the Yo Yogi! press kit, and in it they actually compared him to Bart Simpson. Really.
Sorry about the breakfast, JoeC! …But, at least it was too early for you to “lose your lunch”. Bart Simpson?! Really?! I think I’ve just HAD “…a cow, man!” Instead of “Yo, Yogi!”, it should have been “GO, Yogi! - And Don’t Come Back!”
Don't I wish! But that was a great article. And I'm glad he pointed out the good exceptions, like (most of) the various incarnations of Batman. They don't even distract from each other. Although two of the most recent ones were rare misfires: I just didn't get the point of the 2004 "The Batman" (ugly style too) and last year's CGI "Beware the Batman" was kinda ... meh. I almost stopped watching it completely when Batman's cell rang after he was unconscious and it was flashing CALLING BRUCE WAYNE in big letters. WHAT?? I can't believe ANY other writer would ever do something that stupid in any cartoon or comic.At least the CGI Green Lantern series that preceded it was excellent through and through. Wish they hadn't cancelled it. Or Batman: Brave and the Bold which I don't think could ever be topped in the fun factor.
JoeC:Batman IS an odd exception to the rule, as John Glenn Taylor is quick to point out in his post. And it is TRUE, as I can enjoy Batman comics from Jack Schiff’s “monsters” to Doug Moench and Kelly Jones’ “monstrous creations” – and Batman in live action from Adam West to Christian Bale. THE BATMAN, despite an initially off-putting graphic style, was actually quite good, as MY REVIEW OF SEASON ONE points out. I have had a review of Season Two done (but not illustrated) for a long time. I’ll really have to get that out someday. However, I simply could not watch the CGI BEWARE THE BATMAN, because I felt I was watching “puppets” instead of animation. I felt the same way with GREEN LANTERN, and I wanted a good Green Lantern animated series for decades! In animation, the best of Batman was the ORIGINAL BRUCE TIMM ANIMATED SERIES and THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD! Between the two, it doesn’t get better!
At first, I heartily agreed with the sentiments in the article. However, on further reflection I realized how incredibly subjective all of this is. For some growing up now, the Looney Tunes TV series may be the "definitive" Bugs Bunny, and the earlier versions might not come up to the version that they like. Even though it is anathema to us "purists" to even consider Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam engaging in "group therapy" or other similar abominations, there may be an audience for which it is acceptable--and who am I to say that the new Looney Tunes are incorrectly portraying the characters (I know they are, but that's my point).We tend to like what we start with. Having grown up with the original classic Looney Tunes and Yogi Bear, I, too, cringe when they are re-interpreted in ways that are not to my taste. But my taste is what it is because I grew up when I did.Another example--to most fans of "The Honeymooners," the "definitive" Alice Kramden is Audrey Meadows. Well, for me, I will always think of Sheila MacRae, because she was Alice when I used to watch the "Honeymooners" in the 60's. That doesn't make me wrong because I didn't grow up in the 50's. Similarly, those who grew up with "Yo, Yogi" may have fond memories of Yogi Bear in that particular incarnation and may have less interest in the original short cartoons because those weren't their introduction to the character. And "The Wizard of Oz" has been re-imagined, re-interpreted, (and in some cases truly "wrecked") by countless new versions. Yet when the 1939 MGM version of "The Wizard of Oz" was released, it had its detractors who felt it didn't live up to the original book or the original live stage extravaganza.So where does one draw the line? Stop at the original version and accept nothing else? Accept anything that was done in the 40's, 50's, or 60's but accept nothing later than that?Only one actor/actress or voice artist is acceptable in one role? Nobody should try to follow in the footsteps of Mel Blanc or Daws Butler? Only one Oz book is acceptable, and the rest should not have been allowed? Only the MGM version of Oz is the "true" version? Only one Alice Kramden is acceptable? Only one version of Bugs Bunny is the "true" one?The fact is, Bugs Bunny was re-imagined and re-interpreted countless times during the "Golden Age of Hollywood." As a character, he evolved and continues to evolve to suit the tastes of each succeeding generation.I'm not totally disagreeing with the sentiment put forth in the article, I'm just realizing that each one of us has to decide for ourselves about how much is acceptable and how much is not when classic and even not-so classic characters are re-invented.Re-inventing is definitely dangerous ground to tread, because it is so easy to make a mis-step in re-imagining characters who have achieved iconic status. The same fans who might encourage a new incarnation might also get riled up if it doesn't suit their pre-conceived idea of what it should be.I think the best approach is pick and choose one's favorites and let the rest go...but not rigidly, because sometimes a new version can offer a pleasant surprise.
Joe,I think that there's a natural "settling-down" process wherein a character's appearance is gradually honed and refined. Cases in point mentioned in the article: the PEANUTS characters and Garfield.But performing "major surgery" on a character's iconic appearance is a far different matter.Chris
One more thought--there are certainly "definitive" versions of characters that should be adhered to--just that what is "definitive" for one generation (or even one person) may be different for another, that's all I'm saying, not trying to knock the article down by any means.
Scarecrow:Thank you for a “surprising” entry to our discussion. “Surprising”, merely because I pegged you as more the “traditionalist”, not unlike myself – but also “surprising” to see someone make such a comprehensive and well-thought-out opposing view to something I regarded as “a slam-dunk for our side”! My reaction to that “New Bugs Bunny” is pretty much what you’d expect it to be… not favorable. But, thanks to David Gerstein, I watched a few episodes of THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW and found them to be pretty good. What I was reacting to was not the show itself (because I hadn’t seen it until David sat me in front of it), but the REDESIGN of Bugs Bunny! That’s something that has yet to be explained to my satisfaction! I expect some “visual uniqueness” to stake out a show’s individual identity. Bruce Timm’s Animated Batman looked differently from “THE BATMAN” and BRAVE AND THE BOLD Batman. But, they still all looked like some “acceptable” graphic interpretation of Batman. For THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW, Daffy, Porky, and even Speedy Gonzalez were not nearly as radically redesigned… so why do this to Bugs? Could not THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW carry off the same (admittedly good, though sit-com-y) plots with a Bugs Bunny that looked like Jones, Freleng, or McKimson’s? THE SYLVESTER AND TWEETY MYSTERIES was a prime example of “doing something new” with traditional Looney Tunes characters – yet retaining “the looks we loved”, even when the backgrounds and other design elements occasionally went wonky! Of ALL characters, Bugs Bunny does not need to be redesigned in order to be “hip”… He only needs to be HIMSELF, to accomplish that! Now, “CHANGE to a classic” (as opposed to mere redesign), on the other hand, is much more slippery a slope! You cite some great examples. Particularly, Sheila MacRae vs. Audrey Meadows. How did folks feel when Dick Sargent replaced Dick York on BEWITCHED? (I preferred York, but liked Sargent enough to continue enjoying the show. Or Gerry Johnson replacing Bea Benederet as Betty Rubble on THE FLINTSTONES? (JoeCab, I KNOW what you’re thinking, so no jokes, okay?) In my view, when the latter happened, the character of Betty “stopped being funny”, and just became a part of the background. Does anyone even remember that Steven Hill, and not Peter Graves, starred in the First Season of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? And John McIntire replaced Ward Bond as the wagon master of TV’s WAGON TRAIN. And that McIntire, himself, (along with James Franciscus) was replaced by Paul Burke and Horace McMahon on NAKED CITY. Or William Demarist replacing William Frawley on MY THREE SONS. Never mind the THREE movie Charlie Chans: Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, and Roland Winters. And the various James Bonds. And the granddaddy of them all, SHEMP replacing CURLY! …And Joe Besser replacing Shemp. Of course, THOSE changes took place AS the respective series were ongoing, so that could be considered a different argument altogether – except that we fans like to categorize and divide things in exactly these ways. For instance, I divide the ‘80s JETSONS apart from the ‘60s JETSONS – and I certainly divide the Gold Key JETSONS comic books from the wretched Charlton ones. But some would see these all as part of the same continuum – and I “get” that, even if I disagree. I guess it all comes down to which version of any given thing we like… except for YO, YOGI! There’s still no excuse for that one! Finally, you’re not “knocking the article down” at all! Quite the contrary, you’ve just made the discussion far more interesting! …And, thanks to my unflagging enthusiasm for such topics, more “lengthy”.
Chris:There’s almost always a point where characters assume their true classic looks – and in the case of PEANUTS and GARFIELD, that stabilization has everything to do with ownership by the actual creators. A protection Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, and Mickey Mouse, will never have.
Or Gerry Johnson replacing Bea Benederet as Betty Rubble on THE FLINTSTONES? (JoeCab, I KNOW what you’re thinking, so no jokes, okay?) But but but but but...You know me too well. :)I guess a lot of this is also just fueled by nostalgia. But nostalgia isn't going to bring in new audiences, and that old crowd shrinks with every year, so trying new things should not only be accepted but expected. In a sense I don't even care because MY cartoons are still there even if they might be harder to find.There's a message thread on Facebook with people freaking out because CN is removing a lot of older shows from Boomerang to be replaced by newer ones (last 5+ years). I'm honestly surprised Boomerang even had any kind of an audience to maintain it with those pre-1990 cartoons. I sure wish they just stuck with their two hour slot on Sunday mornings themed on a particular year; there's not much TV watching at that hour anyhoo.
Ah-ah-AH! No more Gerry Johnson jokes! …Aw, who am I kidding… Have at her! Just do it, um… “artfully”. You get a “special dispensation” ‘round here, anyway! That’s terrible news about Boomerang. We didn’t have it on Verizon FIOS until very recently, so I haven’t seen it for a long while. Though, for some time prior, it became (for me) what Cartoon Network once was! To me, the whole point of having over 5,000 channels is that SOMEWHERE among that vast cable universe, there’s a place for YOGI BEAR, or LAND OF THE GIANTS, or WAGON TRAIN, or (fill-in-your-favorite-old- show-here). But, it didn’t work out that way, because too many of those channels are devoted to freakin’ reality shows! If it wasn’t for sports and a small number of favorite shows like THE SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY, MAD MEN, and THE WALKING DEAD, I wouldn’t watch TV at all. So, if not Boomerang, where (in the name of those “5,000 channels”) DOES Yogi Bear go? I guess, I’ll just stick with my DVDs, until they stop making players for ‘em.
It’s as you said Joe what makes a canon interesting. All subjective to personal taste.Scarecrow made a valid point about how we tend to like what we start with. It is hard to know where to draw the line. It depends on what you were exposed to.In my case, I would have one definitive version of a character. My tastes are slightly inflexible. I TRY to give the reinvention of a franchise a chance, but I end up preferring the originals. You become accustomed hearing one voice artist perform a character, or seeing an actor portray a character that it is difficult to accept substitutes. When it comes to who was the better Darin in “BEWITCHED”. It’s two different interpretations of the character. Depends on who you were exposed to first. I have not yet watched the sixth season, as I am on the fourth. I am not sure if I would ever circle around to it. During York era, episodes were formulaic of Endora enchanting a spell over Darin each week. There was not anything new that Sargent’s Darrin had experienced. The original intent on Montgomery and Asher’s part was to end the show after season 5, because they felt it had run its course. I felt that Darrin was too special of a mortal to be easily replaced. Can we get applause for Dick York trooper that he was!Mel and Daws were the heart and soul of the characters they preformed. When I heard Bugs or Quick Draw with a different voice it was jarring, that I could never accept anyone else in their roles. Is it better to let the old cartoons rerun in perpetuity or reinvent the franchise in order to make it popular?
This has, indeed, become quite the discussion, Adel! I wonder if John Glenn Taylor (the original Blogger to whom I linked for this material) will ever “back-link” to this and see how great a discussion has evolved from his original thoughts. …And knowing my readers, as I do, I never doubted that it would. Interesting that Scarecrow takes a somewhat softer stance than I, and you appear to take a harder one. For instance, I will end up watching BEWITCHED through ALL of its seasons… though given the amount of my free time vs. the amount of different DVD material I have overall, it may take me years to do so. But, it sure will be fun getting through those years, eh? I watched the Dick Sargent episodes (at least up to a certain point in my early teen years, when I stopped watching much TV as a whole) in original run, and I expect to enjoy seeing them again… some time down the road. Yet, I DO agree with you that no one has yet been able to replace Mel and Daws (and Don Messick, and Paul Frees, and Hal Smith, and so many more)! Some individual voice recreations are satisfactory, perhaps, but certainly not overall! “Is it better to let the old cartoons rerun in perpetuity or reinvent the franchise in order to make it popular?”That, my friends, may be a question for the ages! …Or, at least a few more days of Blog comments!
Hi Joe and thanks for linking to my article on Easily Mused. I'm truly enjoying the conversation that has resulted.I would like to clarify that in no way am I dismissing the talents of the creative people involved in some of these reboots. There are aspects of The Looney Tunes Show that I enjoy. However, the character design, especially Bugs, greatly distracts from my enjoyment. It just seems so contrived and unnecessary.I guess my main problem with classic characters being reinvented for modern tastes and sensibilities is that it implies that these characters are mere cyphers, empty suits that can be changed subject to the whims of people who have little or no feeling for the original and whose primary motivation is revenue generation.In my blogpost, I focused on cartoon characters because they have no way to defend themselves. Carroll O'Connor could say to the writers of All In The Family "Archie would never say this line. It's out of character." I can almost imagine Bugs Bunny's outrage were he to see the "actor" who is playing him on The Looney Tunes Show. "Of course you realize...this means war."With all due respect to scarecrow33, I do not feel that these distinctions are subjective. To use the "Wizard of Oz" example, I believe that the solid consensus is that the 1939 movie IS the definitive version, the iteration that is so deep-rooted in the public consciousness that it will never be usurped. I suppose it's fair to point out that the 1939 version was itself a reboot, and there were changes made from the book and previous adaptations. but it all comes together magically in the 1939 film. I do not mean to say there should never be a new Oz movie, just that it doesn't need a new coat of paint. Keep the characters, costumes and sets the same, and just tell a great new story.One revival that I think deserves praise: the new Mickey Mouse shorts. They evoke the madcap spirit of the 30's cartoons very well and the characters seem like the real deal, despite some design tweaks.
John:Very glad you are enjoying the discussion. Yes, we have a spirited and dedicated bunch around here, and their contributions are what make publishing this Blog a true joy for me! In your comment, you get back to the very thing that attracted me to your post in the first place. I would say that, of the episodes I’ve seen, I actually like THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW. Sure, it’s not Chuck, Friz, Bob and Bob, Tex, and the rest… but whatever COULD be? From TINY TOON ADVENTURES and TAZ-MANIA – on thru the various DC Comics made-for-DVD features of today, I don’t think any studio has done better in the field of contemporary animation than Warner Bros. But, my point (and presumably yours) remains… why the unattractive redesign of Bugs Bunny? And, that the show’s good points could have been equally executed by a more traditionally designed rabbit Though SOME tweaking would be acceptable, as a concession to more modern times, Bugs Bunny doesn’t need to look right-at-home- in the world of The Powerpuff Girls! Even on those new Mickey Mouse shorts (if they’re the ones I’m thinking of), I could say the design is off from what I’d prefer. (Too “toon-y”) They’re still good, though. And, YES… That’s a great point about Carroll O’Connor “speaking-up” for the character-integrity of Archie Bunker – but that no one is there to do it for Bugs. Though between (say) Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc (just to pick two), I don’t think there would ever have existed the NEED for such a discussion. They, and others of their era, would have just “done the right thing” without any thought whatsoever. Ultimately, I think that BOTH subjectivity AND the existence of a universally accepted “best version” of a character and / or series come into play – and that’s what makes the whole discussion fascinating… and fun! I hope you drop by again! And, thanks for such a great post to act as a catalyst for all this!
Yogi Bear: the classic version and his teenage version from the 90s!
“Yay” on one, and “Nay” on the other!
As much as people dislike changes to characters that have been around for many many years, consider the idea that the new material becomes a gateway of sorts to the "classic" stuff. There ARE worse incarnations of Yogi Bear than "Yo Yogi!" (remember "Yogi's Space Race"?) And the only time they tried going back to when Yogi was simply a bear with a taste for human food that had a knack for stealing picnic baskets was "The New Yogi Bear Show" in the 1980s, which is forgotten by most. I like about 75% of "The Looney Tunes Show". That sounds generous, but I can tell you what I don't like about it: the music videos that interrupt the flow of the main story and Porky Pig made into a sad sack isn't funny. Plus they had David Alvarez redesign Bugs, Daffy and Porky back into recognizable forms for the 2nd season, which is a marked improvement over the first. I enjoy it more than "The Garfield Show" and "Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated"
‘Rehab:I give ‘80s H-B great credit for even RECOGNIZING that there WAS a “Classic Yogi” to go back to! Alas, by that time, their animation was bad, the writing wasn’t all that funny, and (most noticeably) Daws Butler had passed on – and was not successfully replaced. Showing the original Yogi's as part of the same show, made the new ones look all the more like the “lesser product” they were. Still in all, if that show were offered on DVD, I might buy it, just BECAUSE it was “Classic Yogi”. …And, especially, if they retained the classic-era “Snooper and Blabber” cartoon that used to run in the middle (if I recall correctly)! But, as we’ve come to see over the course of this comment thread, reactions to all remakes are subjective. I think there’s both good and bad to THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW – but nothing will ever even “put a dent” in the originals anyway! So, let ‘em both be… especially if Bugs has been redesigned to greater “normalcy”.I really like SCOOBY-DOO MYSTERY INCORPORATED, and I actually go back to the 1969 Friday-night premiere episode of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU – so I may be as “Scooby-purist” as one gets. Between the two, there have been MANY versions of Scooby, some of which I like, and others I’d prefer to ignore. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone… only the specific series or episodes differ.
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