High-tech cartoon lowers standards

OK, if you read last week’s edition of “This Week in Geek,” you’re probably left wondering, “What the hell is he talking about?”

Thankfully, my second article coincides with the release of “Loonatics,” a new show on Kids’ WB that premieres Saturday, Sept. 17.

I don’t expect you to watch the show, much less actually like the show. “Loonatics,” set in the year 2772, takes the classic Warner Brothers cartoon characters (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.) and makes them into sharp, anime-styled superheroes with special powers that combat the forces of evil. Danger Duck is able to teleport and create magical, projectile eggs. Tech E. Coyote creates gadgets for the team to use and Rev Runner has super speed. Slam Tasmanian has super strength and the ability to turn into tornadoes. In other words, the Warner Brothers cartoon characters use their classic comedic abilities to presumably fight evil.

So, rather than set the standard for animation like they did 40 and 50 years ago, Warner Brothers is simply lowering its standards to make these classic cartoons more like the cheap stuff of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Pok?mon” to stand a small chance at grabbing the attention of today’s youth.

Sound crazy? It is crazy, but even Warner Brothers could not have anticipated the sheer animosity that this show experienced when it was announced. Thousands of loyal Warner Brothers cartoon fans were outraged at what had been done to their childhood favorites. Even crazier? Warner Brothers actually listened.

The “extreme” look of the main character, Buzz Bunny, spawned all kinds of parodies, including a very popular satire on newgrounds.com called “A New Bunny.”

Of course, this proves that the research team at Warner Brothers didn’t do their research. The name had already been copyrighted by a U.K.-based company called Taboo. So when the show would have premiered, thousands of wide-eyed youth would have Googled Buzz Bunny, only to discover that Buzz Bunny was … wait for it … yes, a vibrator.

Sadly, Taboo has since removed their Buzz Bunny from their Web site, most likely at the request of Warner Brothers. But by the same token, Buzz Bunny’s new name is Ace Bunny, and his look has been toned down substantially. However, a decision like this definitely cost Warner Brothers lots of money. They had to push back the show’s premiere, they had to start animating episodes again from scratch and any merchandise that would have been developed for the show had to be scrapped. In other words, Warner Brothers spent, quite possibly, millions of dollars to make us geeks happy.

I wouldn’t call it a feeling of happiness, but I must admit, I’m a little happier. Looking at the original design of Buzz Bunny would be enough to give anyone nightmares for a week. The truth of the matter is that a show like “Loonatics” is geared toward one thing: merchandise. I will bet that, if the show simply does OK, by Christmas, we will be seeing “Loonatic” action figures, posters, trading cards, candy, etc. In other words, “Loonatics” is not about a good cartoon that kids (or adults still living with their parents) will enjoy. It’s about merchandise.

Although I’ll bet money that Taboo sold a whole lot of Buzz Bunnies before Warner Brothers got to them. Now that’s merchandise!