Friday, June 10, 2011

Television Review: Loonatics Unleashed

Chances are you've heard of Loonatics before, though that's probably thanks to the many caustic reviews and parody videos. The show was being mocked before it even came out, thanks to the early designs for the new characters. I wish I could say it didn't deserve it but, well, it did.

This episode brought to you by the letters L, S, and D!

The designs were mocked relentlessly, culminating in an internet petition demanding the designs either be changed or the show be cancelled. Proving once and for all that internet petitions do actually work but only in the most half-ass way possible, the designs were changed. Buzz Bunny became Ace Bunny, Loonatics became Loonatics Unleashed, and Roadrunner and Coyote's relationship became more homoerotic than a million Kirk/Spock slashfics put together.

Sorry, you'll have to look up those Roadrunner/Coyote pics on your own time.

You've probably heard of the concept of "AU" or alternate universe material. Basically the idea is that you take existing character or plot concepts and re-imagine them in a new genre or setting. Loonatics Unleashed isn't exactly an alternate universe, these characters are meant to be the far future descendants of the originals, but it's the same basic concept. Some people consider AU material to be source-destroying sacrilege, but not me. Maybe it's because I'm more of a creative person myself, but I always enjoyed exploring new concepts based on the same characters. So on paper this is exactly the kind of show I would like.

The problem is that even judged on its own merits, this show is objectively terrible. The characters are shallow and one-dimensional. The plot is boring with twists most people could see coming a mile away. The writing is genuinely awful and smacks of having been made up as they went along. The best example of this would be how the intro sequence calls the planet the Loonatics live on Acmetropolis, yet all of the characters refer to it as Earth for most of season 1.

Even worse than the writing, however, are the original characters. There's nothing wrong with AU material adding an original character or two to spice things up or fill a niche no source-character can fill. The problem is with the exception of the Loonatics themselves every character in the first season is an original creation. There's no far future Marvin the Martian, or high tech bounty hunter Elmer Fudd, at least not until season 2.

So let's talk about season 2, then! The show does get much, much better in the second season. That's when they added in re-imagined versions of the other Looney Tunes characters. They also seemed to spend more time on writing, actually adding some dimension to the characters. A few of the season 2 episodes could even be called good, including It Came From Outer Space, starring a revised Marvin the Martian, and Family Business, which finally gives Rev Runner and Tech E. Coyote personalities. The show is definitely at its best during episodes like this.

Unfortunately, there's just not enough of them. Most of the episodes still revolve around original characters, often even going so far as to make the revised characters play lackey to the newly created villains! To make things worse, while the writing does get better in season 2 it's still not what you would call good. There are gaping plot holes all through the thing, and nonsensical lines that were clearly put in just to lead into puns that are never funny enough to justify it.

In the end, though, the biggest problem Loonatics has is that combining superhero fight sequences and Looney Tunes sight gags creates a disconnect that makes it impossible to know when you're supposed to be taking things seriously. One episode repeatedly has two of the characters get crushed under falling rocks as a cheap sight gag, then halfway through it traps the same characters in an unstable cavern and suddenly expects us to consider falling rocks to be a legitimate threat. No. It doesn't work that way. If the writers had actually tried they could probably have found a way to reconcile these two conflicting styles, but they didn't. They just let it go and hoped we wouldn't notice.

KR Rating: BAD

Is Loonatics as bad as you heard? Yes. Hell yes. Indisputably, yes, it is every bit as bad as you heard. To be fair, the second season is a vast improvement over the unmitigated train wreck that was the first season, and even occasionally borders on good. But there's still just way too much lazy writing. Like most bad cartoons, Loonatics seems to operate on the assumption that kids are stupid so it doesn't matter if the show makes sense.

At the same time, there are worse cartoons out there, and worse Looney Tunes spinoffs at that. The only reason this show is still so reviled is because of those caustic reviews and parody videos I mentioned before. Loonatics Unleashed wasn't just a high profile failure, it was a high profile failure on the internet, which -if Lolcats and Struttin' Leo are any indication- never lets anything go ever.


Introbulus said...

The worst adaption I can think of being...Baby Loony Toons?

Mike M. said...


ben10fan said...

I respected you on Agony Booth because you defended my viewpoint. but now, I'm not so sure. I am sick and tired of all the hate this show gets. the first time I read your review, I almost cried.

Mike M. said...

Here's the thing. There's a difference between liking something and thinking it's good. For myself, I love the first Dungeons & Dragons movie. You know, the crappy one with Justin Whalin and Jeremy Irons? I love that movie.

At the same time, I recognize that it is -objectively- not a good movie. The acting is awful and the plot is nearly incomprehensible.

I would be lying if I said I never got any enjoyment out of Loonatics Unleashed. There were a number of parts I liked. At the same time, the show is objectively bad. Honestly, I don't hate it, I'm more just disappointed because of what could have been.

Basically what I'm saying here is, I don't expect you to stop liking the show, just like I'm not going to stop liking the D&D movie. But if you're going to get furious every time someone hates it, or every time someone points out that it's objectively not good, I think you're going to end up with a very sad life ahead of you.

ben10fan said...

you seem be talking about enjoying something BECAUSE it's bad. that rarely happens with me. usually, I either think something's good and become a fan of it, or I hate it. and even hating something is rare for me.

also, I think another problem is that most of the other thinks I like(Transformers, Sonic SatAM, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) are quite popular. so having something else I'm a fan of be so despised, doesn't sit well with me.

Mike M. said...

Not really because it's bad, more in spite of the fact that it's bad. That is to say, something can be objectively bad but still have a lot of heart, while something that's objectively good can also be cold and formulaic.

ben10fan said...

did you read the part that said part or the reason I'm upset is because the other stuff I like is popular and thus can't really handle that something else I like is so hated?

Mike M. said...

Yes, I did.

ben10fan said...

plus it's a bit personal now since I've been dealing with hardcore hatred of this show for almost two years.

Mike M. said...

Fair enough, I guess.

starofjustice said...

I know it's years and years later, but reading this I'm curious about what you liked about "It Came From Outer Space," because that was the episode I absolutely hated the most of the whole run.

Mike M said...

@starofjustice - Sorry for not getting back sooner. Well, I don't remember a whole lot of the episode as, like you said, this was years and years ago. I would say I feel like it was an interesting idea for an episode that was totally squandered, just like so much of this show. I always liked Marvin the Martian and he's done fairly well here, and the idea of having it so that neither side is 100% right was interesting, as Lexi DID blow up his stuff, but it was an accident and he's doing just as bad...

But I felt like the episode's answer to that was stupid. Lexi should have accepted responsibility and offered to help fix what she'd done. Selling her as a slave to whatever not-Marvin's name was so that he'd leave the planet along was just idiotic. And then it turns out that it's just a trick to blow stuff up and Lexi is so stupid that she fell for it AGAIN? What an idiot.