The Entire Looney Tunes Library in one pot now? The quest for the ultimate Bugs Bunny Show
When Turner Broadcasting was bought out by Time Warner, and the pre-and post-48 Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies libraries were finally merged; I was hoping there would be a new Network program to replace ABC’s “Bugs and Tweety Show” (the last of a long line of network WB cartoon shows beginning with the original Bugs Bunny Show, and continuing through such 70’s mainstays as CBS’ Bugs Bunny-Roadrunner Show). One thing about the network shows, you may have noticed, is that they always had the newer cartoons from the series. You never saw the really old stuff like the first Bugs Bunny cartoon and other early ones where he had a more “rabbity” face; the ones immediately following with the fat Elmer, the handful of older Tweety’s that did not have Sylvester, that Pepe LePew where he chased a dog instead of a cat, the ones with the turtle or gremlin who actually get the best of Bugs Bunny! You always had to watch the syndicated Bugs Bunny shows to get those. The WB library had been divided between “pre-1948” and “post-1948”. The line falls right in between the release of “Haredevil Hare” (the first with Marvin Martian, with a different voice, and ending with Bugs Bunny hanging off of a moon that had been blasted into a “crescent” shape), on 7-24-48, and “You Were Never Duckier”, pairing Daffy with Henery Hawk, on 8-7-48. (That seemed to be a big division point in Hollywood filmography. The MGM’s were also divided there, and while the Tom & Jerry’s were all shown together (both on network and syndication), the pre-48 Droopy’s, Barney Bears, etc. would only resurface on cable years later. It had something to do with some law that was passed that year regarding theaters and ownership of films, or something like that).
The pre-48’s LT/MM’s had been sold off to “Associated Artists Productions” (aap) whose familar screen was tagged to the beginnings of many of the older films. AAP was eventually bought out by Turner (joining the MGM’s), and these provided his TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network with their Looney Tunes.
One group of post 48’s was on the network shows, and others were also included in syndicated packages. Channel 5 here in NY would show both pre and post mixed together, but channel 2 on Saturday morning (and earlier, and later again, channel 7) only had post 48’s. Nickelodeon, FOX and finally the new WB Network would pick up the post-48’s not on the big networks. NBC also had some of them for its Daffy Duck shows in the late 70’s/early 80’s. (A few of these cartoons would be passed around between the syndicated packages, and the various big network shows, but ABC or CBS always had the most popular films, such as the Sylvester & Tweety’s, Roadrunners, Yosemite Sam, and classics such as “Rabbit of Seville” and “What’s Opera Doc”.
The only exceptions to the pre/post ’48 line were the Black and White Looney Tunes (From the first, “Sinkin in the Bathtub”, and all the other “Bosko” cartoons, and most of the 1930’s Porky Pigs), which were kept under WB ownership, and thus with the post-48’s. These also were never on the network shows, but were apart of post-48 syndicated packages, and finally ending up on Nick. (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were originally separate series; with LT featuring the longer running stars, and MM having more Disney-esque stars at first, and then becoming mostly miscellaneous musicals. Later, stars such as Bugs Bunny ended up on the MM series, though Porky and Daffy remained mostly LT. MM’s went color first in 1934, but LT’s remained B/W until 1942. Afterward, the distinction between them completely vanished, and it seems like the remaining films with any star, were randomly assigned as “LT” or “MM”). You can get the entire history of this, with all of the network programs and syndicated/cable packages and every short aired in each, respectively, at Looney Tunes on Television!)
The CBS, NBC and ABC shows always had new title screens made; instead of running each film’s individual opening sequence with all its credits. (Syndicated and later cable shows would of course play the whole opening and closing sequences). The last seasons of the Bugs and Tweety show came up with these nice new title screens that ran part of the original “Looney Tunes” theme, and this new background showing Bugs Bunny inside the “WB concentric circles” which moves from right to left over a ribbon over with the episode name appearing on the ribbon to the right, as he tips his hat. You can see an animated example of this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYBxsqXlixo. Meanwhile, the WB network’s show used only the original title screen of the episode, without the LT or MM card and credits sequence. (Originally, Nick omitted the LT/MM card as well, but later added the full sequence). After the merger, pre-48’s began to be added to WB’s rotation. (And 3-22-97, the first post-48’s appeared on Cartoon Network). Many pre-48’s (and a few early post-48’s) were what were known as “Blue Ribbon” prints, where the original title screen had been eliminated and replaced with plain text over a “blue ribbon” in the background. So the WB show replaced this with a scene from the film with the title text of the Blue Ribbon screen lifted off and placed on the new background. Like for the Daffy film “Book Review”, you’ll see the shelves of books from the beginning scene, with the title in the same font (and MISspelling; it was originally “RevUE”) printed over it. That was a good idea for a replacement of the missing original titles! Meanwhile, we are entering the age of the Internet as this is going on, and I find this shot of the original title of The Wild Hare (Bugs Bunny’s debut film, and one of the Blue Ribbon titles). Also, word of remastering of the old films, and restoration of the Blue Ribbon film original titles began surfacing. So hoping WB would soon create a revamped LT/MM show in the vein of Bugs Bunny Roadrunner or Bugs & Tweety, but now including the pre-48’s, I came up with the idea of reusing the Bugs & Tweety screens, but with a small inset of the original title screen in the area where the episode name was. So I scanned a picture I had printed out of a B & T title, and then pasted the Wild Hare title over it to illustrate my idea. One option was for the small inset to then expand and fill the screen. And whichever Blue Ribbons whose titles were not restored for whatever reason, would continue to use the makeshift title screens from the previous WB network shows. (Another idea is to use the film’s publicity cards; many of which can be found in the LT/MM tribute books by Beck & Friewald and others).
Of course, a new, revamped network show never came to be. In fact, with the entire 1000* film library available to both Kids WB and the Turner Networks after Nick and ABC’s contracts eventually ran out, WB’s show disappeared for good, and Turner networks’ showings of Bugs and Daffy (once 2 hours on Cartoon Network, plus airings on TBS and TNT) dwindled down, and eventually fizzled out to almost nothing. (Both WB and Cartoon Network were too much into their new shows such as Cartoon Cartoons or anime such as Pokemon! Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and the other Amblin shows also had a flash in the pan appearance there following the merger, but were given poor exposure, and Spielberg somehow had enough control over them to have them yanked off and placed back on Nick where they eventually fell back into limbo anyway. Why a producer still had that much control of property he only leased from WB (not owned); I’ve always questioned, and nobody seems to know).
Now even the pre/post 48 division has resurfaced, because Time Warner treats Turner as still a separate company and makes it PAY to air WB property! So the few times the new Boomerang channel airs LT/MM, it is all pre-48’s again. (Thankfully, DVD releases, which are all by WB, continue to mix both periods. Previously with VHS, they had been separate). I’m hoping WB will not start farming the post-48’s out to others again, like was done with the Amblin shows (Pinky and the Brain and one or two others now on Toon Disney). Rumors of this are now beginning to surface.
So is Time Warner/Turner a mixture of iron and clay or something? If they ever split, which I would not be surprised since there is such lack of “synergy”, I hope they would just do a swap, with the pre-48 WB cartoons going to Time Warner to join the rest of the LT/MM library, in exchange for the pre-1992 DC or “Justice-League” (e.g. “Superfriends”, etc) staying with Turner, to be with the rest of the Hanna-Barbera type animation. I wish they would do this now, even if they don’t split; if they are going to consider farming stuff out to other networks. (What will happen if Boomerang gets tired of paying to air the Superfriends? Will that be pulled and shopped off to someone else as well?) If one of those libraries has to be divided again; I say the JLA, because the WB-produced post-92’s are as different as night and day from the more “cartooney” pre-92 stuff.
*Also, of particular trivial interest, on this page Looney Tunes Cartoon Checklist, I had copied the list from 1930 through the six 1969 films, pasted it to a Word Perfect document and then placed the years on the same line as the first film of each year (good to keep to know when each year begins). I turned on the program’s line count, which numbered all of the lines. (Had to make sure no years were still filling any line by themselves, and that each line has only one title in it; that no lines of text have been erased, or doubled up, etc. Also stopped at “Injun Trouble”. The list continues on with more recent stuff I am not counting).
I found that there are EXACTLY 1000 releases, from the very first Looney Tune, “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub” (10-30), to the final “Injun Trouble” (9-20-69). This is the original run of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series by the Warner Brothers studio. After that, beginning with “the Duxorcist”, is the late ’80’s revival, which aimed to capture the sound of the classic series (with reused Carl Stalling/Milt Franklin score), but was still cut off from the original run by two decades. Also not included are special films along the way (Private Snafu, The Door, etc), but the 1968 LT-MM “neutral” “Cartoon Special” Norman Normal is included, as it was basically apart of the regular run films (it used to play on Nick, but for some reason never turned up on Turner). There were also made for TV shorts, two from 1965, and the rest from late 70’s TV specials (Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol, etc), that were eventually mixed in with the other post-48 films on LT/MM shows, but are not included here.
I had posted this on the Termite Terrace and other cartoon boards. I’m surprised Mr. Cooke himself never caught this amazing coincidence of such a round figure for the series run! I now have made my own version of the checklist, and using HTML’s handy “ordered list” ‹ol› feature; they are automatically numbered, so you can see for yourself. Also included are the directors, starring cartoon characters, and some other notes. It continues into the post-1969 productions, and special and miscellaneous shorts, along the way.
Looney Tunes-Merrie Melodies filmography