“Tiny Toons Adventures” is one of the weirdest anomalies of the 1990’s. Once upon a time in 1990, it was introduced to a young audience and boomed in popularity. It took the old Looney Tunes and handed the torch over to younger, newer characters that were practicing to be the new Looney Tunes legends. For four or five years the Tiny Toons were everywhere. Then the show ended. And they disappeared languishing in obscurity for over twenty years. And the Looney Tunes just chugged along, never acknowledging the series at all. So imagine the surprise when Warner decided to reboot the series for a new generation.
Now titled “Tiny Toons Looniversity,” the new series ages up the characters of Babs, Buster, Plucky, Sweetie, and Hampton just a smidge. They all now attend Looniversity to become “Toon legends.” I guess all those years at Tiny Toon University were for naught. If you’re Gen Z with no knowledge of the original series, “Looniversity” is fine comedy, but if you’re a follower of the original series, there’s so much retconning that it’s hard to adjust. Apparently Buster, and Babs just met their Looniversity friends in the pilot which means the original series doesn’t matter (?).
To add on to the distraction, Buster and Babs are now twin brother and sister, and no longer neighbors and friends. So their whole romantic sub-plot over the course of the original series is now immensely awkward and weird. There’s no indication on which series is officially canon, so it’s really all up to us, the fans, to decide what matters and what doesn’t, I guess. All the adolescent mishaps we saw in the original are replaced in favor college themed mayhem in the vein of “Aaah! Real Monsters.” Now the students are competing to see who can be the better toon and pass their courses.
The OG looney tunes all make the obligatory cameos including Bugs Bunny who is the head professor of the Tiny Toons’ class. Of course Buster and Plucky Duck are rivals again, Hampton is still the soft spoken mensch, and Babs is still as outrageous and independent as ever. Given the biggest age jump is Shirley the Loon, who is now a guidance counselor and Resident Advisor for the students. If you roll with it and compromise, “Tiny Toons Looniversity” is a decent reboot to the vastly superior “Tiny Toons Adventures.”
What’s noticeable about the new series also is that the writers ditch the form format. Where every episode had two or three short adventures starring various characters, now every episode has one fluid storyline revolving mainly around Babs and Buster Bunny. It’s an adjustment, I admit, as I’m still so used to Tress MacNeille and Charlie Adler. But Eric Bauza and Ashleigh Crystal Hairston have their respective charms.
To their credits, they play the individual characters in the vein of Adler and MacNeille while also injecting their own zaniness and comic timing, in the process. Tessa Netting (replacing the aforementioned Candi Milo) is also a welcome addition playing Sweetie, who is now a very fierce, and courageous sidekick to Babs. I never liked Sweetie in the original series, but here she’s given a fun make over, with Netting really injecting charisma in to the character. Other tertiary characters like Sneezer, Fefe LeFume, Calamity Coyote, and Furball sadly only make small appearances.
What with the way “Space Jam 2” left the whole legacy of Looney Tunes on a grim and depressing note, I’m glad Warner decided to revive “Tiny Toons” and haven’t quite given up on these characters yet. It might not be a great reboot, but it’s a very satisfying re-visit to the characters I fell in love with in the 1990’s.
Now streaming on MAX, and airing on Cartoon Network.