Tiny Toons’ Final Set A Lackluster End To A Classic Cartoon Series

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 4: Looney Links! Is allegedly the final installment of director Steven Spielberg’s hit Fox Kids cartoon franchise.  If this is indeed the final installment of the series, then it certainly is not the best way to end things.  While most of this set is presented in its entirety, there is one glaring problem with the set.  That issue comes in the episode, “Weekday Afternoon Live.” The episode in question actually splices the final minutes of the “Toon TV” in place of the final segment that aired in “Weekday Afternoon Live” in its original broadcast.  This is not like Warner Home Video to let such an error occur in its home releases.  This critic’s copy of Volume Four is not the only one that has done this either.  According to others who have purchased the set, they too have had the same thing happen to them.  That one major blunder aside, the remainder of the set will still bring enjoyment to long-time fans of this modern classic cartoon.

This new (and allegedly final) installment of Tiny Toon Adventures offers more than its share of laughs, poking fun at pop culture once again and even some former presidents.  This time around, Buster, Babs, and company take another stab at Batman (and director Tim Burton).  They also go after one of the biggest censorship groups of the time, the Parents Music Resource Council (PMRC).  Only instead of dealing with music, Buster and Babs have to face off certain parties that want to censor cartoons.  Long-time fans will recognize the episode “Toon TV.”  That’s because it’s quite similar to a previous episode from Season One titled, “Tiny Toons Music Television.”  It’s basically more music video spoofs.  This time, the Tiny Toons gang goes even further back in time, covering hits from The Coasters, The Contours, and Shirley Ellis and Lincoln Chase.  They even cover Tchaikovsky’s famed ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’ in this episode.  Of course, this is just a sample of what audiences can expect from this final collection of episodes.  Buster and Babs pay tribute once more to the golden days of animation by trying to save a group of “two-Tone” toons from an evil executive.  There is much more to enjoy from this final portion of the show’s final season.  But as noted already, the episodes contained in this final series of episodes aren’t entirely that original, thus making it less enjoyable than the series’ first two seasons.

For the seemingly decreased sense of originality in these final episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures and the problematic error created in ‘Weekday Afternoon Live’, there is at least one equally noticeable positive to this set.  That positive is an episode the directly addresses the problem of bullying.  To be more specific, it presents the situation in which Shirley The Loon is bullied by her classmates at her ballet class.  Upon telling Babs about the harassment from her swan classmates, Babs vows to get even with them, which she indeed does.  Of course getting even isn’t what people who have been bullied should do.  This is by no means the message.  But it does in its own way, go after bullies.  At the same time, it re-tells the story of The Ugly Duckling.  So in essence, it’s actually a doubly enjoyable episode for this.

The one major sequencing problem evident with Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4: Looney Links! is something that will continue to plague this set unless the people at Warner Home Video make the effort to alleviate this issue.  Luckily, it does have its positives as noted already.  Looking at this set from the perspective of its packaging, the people charged with assembling this set at least got that right.  As with so many multi-disc sets being released now, WHV has released this final installment in a standard single disc case with an insert.  The insert included allows for the set’s first disc to be placed in its own spot, thus protecting the disc from scratching and, in turn, preserving the disc (along with the second disc) to be preserved much longer.  So it is for that reason, and for the laughs offered throughout this collection, that it is worthy of at least some praise.  But the massive error of having the wrong episode spliced into the end of another and the rehashed previous episodes will make any long-time fan of Tiny Toon Adventures take notice that this set is not perfect.  It is far from it by chance because of these issues.  Despite that, it is still a good addition to the collection of any Tiny Toons Adventures fan.  With any luck, Warner Brothers and Warner Home Video will take notice of all the complaints from fans, and re-issue this set as it should be presented.

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The Adventures Of Scooter The Penguin Is A “Cool” Family Flick

Courtesy: Engine 15 Media Group/Entertainment One

The Adventures of Scooter The Penguin combines the best pieces of Happy Feet and The Ugly Duckling for a story that the entire family will enjoy.  This Dove approved family story focuses primarily on the issues of bullying and social acceptance.  It also throws in a coming-of-age story to help things progress.  And at a time when bullying is such a vital topic of discussion stories such as this are always welcome.  Even better is that while it takes on a story similar to that of Happy Feet, it leaves out that movie’s “preachy” environmental message.  Rather, it takes the high road and focuses more on the messages of social acceptance and bullying.

Scooter faces an uncertain group of penguins after he is brought into town.  He’s the only blue penguin there.  And his general stature is different from that of the other penguins.  Because he is different from the other penguins, he also faces a bully at pre-school.  But thanks to the support of two other young penguins, Scooter never gets down.  Along the way, Scooter even makes some other friends who are there to support him, especially when he faces off against his bully in a big swimming race near the movie’s end.  When he beats the other penguins in the race, even the bully changes his view, and becomes Scooter’s friend.  It all leads up to a final confrontation with an evil walrus.  When Scooter stands up to him, the rest of the penguins join in and follow his example.  They show through this simple action that they’ve accepted him.  Scooter learns through it all that it’s okay for him to be who he is and that anyone who is really a friend and who cares will accept him no matter what.

The lesson of self acceptance is an important one for all young audiences.  It’s even an important one for adults, as kids model themselves after the behavior of the adults around them.  So many adults act like the penguins in this feature.  They instantly look down their noses at anyone that is different from them.  Luckily, Scooter didn’t act that way.  He just wanted to be accepted.  He didn’t judge the other penguins for looking different from him.  In a sense, one could even take that as a lesson about the golden rule.  Scooter treated everyone else as he would want to be treated.  Again, both kids and adults alike can benefit from this lesson.  All said, the lessons taught through this feature more than make up for the CG based “animation” used here.  The feature’s “animation” is more akin to a PC based video game than features from the likes of Pixar or Dreamworks.  But again, that can be forgiven as the feature has substance and heart.  And in a time when it seems so difficult to find good family friendly features out there today, that counts for something.

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