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Cartoon Graveyard: Extra-Short Midterm Edition

October 8, 2009

cartoongraveyard

All right, look, I have two papers due next Monday and magazine production just started, so I’ve got no time for a snappy intro this week. Instead, I’ll just recommend a cool cartoon you should go track down on the Internet because you, unlike me, have free time on your hands.

Title: Duck Dodgers In the 24th½ Century

Network: Cartoon Network then, Boomerang now

Premise: Daffy Duck… IIIIIIINNNNN SPAAAAAAAACE

That right there is the original Looney Tunes short, parodying Buck Rogers, which as you can see rules. George Lucas had it shown in some theaters before the orignal Star Wars because it so inspired him, and as the years gone by he’s come ever closer to turning the franchise into his dream of a ridiculous cartoon. So a few years back Warner Brothers went ahead and produced a full-scale series based on it, directed by world-class Chuck Jones imitators Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone. The setup: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Marvin the Martian “play” space hero Duck Dodgers, eager young space cadet Eager Young Space Cadet, and Martian Commander X-2.

Now, God knows reusing Looney Tunes characters in movies and TV shows is risky at best. We all remember the weird pointlessness of Space Jam and Looney Tunes Back In Action, and I would like to remind everyone that Loonatics Unleashed never happened. But Duck Dodgers succeeds by getting the tone exactly right. Here’s a brief exchange to illustrate:

Dodgers: I don’t get it, Cadet. “Jumbo shrimp.” It just doesn’t make sense!

Cadet: That’s an oxymoron, Captain.

Dodgers: What did you call me?

Cadet: An oxymoron. A word or phrase made up of two contradictory words. Like “free trade” or “compassionate conservatism.”

Dodgers: That attitude of yours is killin’ us in the flyover states.

Let’s review: smartass wordplay, out-of-nowhere political commentary, and self-aware metahumor, all in the space of about thirty seconds. That’s how you keep the Looney Tunes spirit alive, people.

Other familiar Looney Tunes characters pop up from time to time, in unfamiliar yet logical guises. Yosemite Sam as a space barbarian. Nasty Canasta as a bounty hunter. Elmer Fudd as a mind-controlling viral entity. Okay, maybe not so logical, but still fun. In a smart move, Bugs Bunny never puts in an appearance, and only gets mentioned in a joke about him overshadowing another star (wink, wink). Duck Dodgers makes sure that its two stars get what they’ve always wanted: Daffy a starring role, and Porky a turn as someone other than a hapless fall guy. Brandt and Cervone wisely use their sci-fi setting to stretch their iconic characters without changing their essential core.

Final Judgment: This is why I’m glad the dorms get Boomerang. Well, this and Justice League. But seriously, watch this show.

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