The Goofy Gophers

“Commando tactics.”

Directed by Arthur Davis*; Animation by Don Williams, Manny Gould, J.C. Melendez, and Cal Dalton. A Looney Tune released on January 25, 1947.

*It was started by Clampett, but the man left the studio, leaving his animation unit to fend for themselves. When they were handed off to Mr. Davis, they finished the short under his supervision.

What’s this? A short named after its title characters, that also happens to be their debut? That doesn’t happen! Not here! And yet, here we are. Who would have thought?

It is indeed the first appearance by Mac and Tosh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I must set the scene. Picture a vegetable garden. A lovely, pristine vegetable garden, full to bursting with mouth watering goodies. Crisp, crunchy carrots. Leafy, green spinach. Plump, dirt-covered potatoes. It’s enough to make you hunger for a Sizzler.

With such a bounty of edible treasures, you can expect thieves. Whoever owns this place has thought of that, and has a watchdog on standby. He’s a thespian. (The dogs in these cartoons usually are.) He also would like to sleep, but he hears munching in the fields. Yep. Gophers. Goofy Gophers. They’re gray and white, their eyes tend to melt into their fur, and Blanc and Freberg seem to no be entirely sure which one of the two they’re voicing. Humble beginnings, indeed.

The dog, (who will also get a name. So we’ll call him…) Ian, tries to get close to them disguised as a tomato plant. They aren’t easily fooled, and smash him with a pumpkin and a shovel, before diving back into their hiding places. Safely underground, they continue their produce pilfering. Ian lies in wait as the scarecrow, and gets dragged under too. He is returned almost immediately, as they aren’t quite privy to dog food.

As the rodents continue to munch, Ian’s paw walks over to them disguised as a rather fetching gophette. Proof that Mac and Tosh aren’t gay! (Unless they’re bi, but really, who cares? Only losers spend time considering animated characters sexualities.) The two each get a dance with the “girl.” Ever the polite ones, they don’t get jealous of the other and happily trade off between rounds.

I don’t think they were ever fooled, as they rip the puppet off to reveal what was hiding underneath. Such rude behavior, to play with their emotions like that. That deserves a mousetrap. Okay, Ian has taken about all he can. Time to blow those two to kingdom come! Disguising the explosive as a carrot is a great way to avoid suspicion. Ever the clever pair, they halt the kaboom, and supply their own with a paper bag. It’s enough to fool the dog, who feels he has finally succeeded in his task. Time for a well earned nap.

Well, if Mac and Tosh want to eat without him breathing down their pelts, they’ll simply have to get rid of him. Since he’s a heavy sleeper, it’s not too hard to load him into a rocket launcher and send him off to the moon. (It’s the always the most polite who are the most savage.) Well, now the place is all theirs, right? Not if Bugs has any say in it. Now, they’ve met their match. (His voice sounds a little too high pitched. What is in those veggies?)

Favorite Part: The gophers wearing bonnets made out of the food they’re stealing. Referring to each other as “Carmen” and “Amber” is the carrot icing on the carrot cake.

Rating: 4

A Ham in a Role

“Temper, hasn’t he?”

A Ham In A Role

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Sid Marcus; Animation by Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, J.C. Melendez, and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1949.

And here we are with another of the 100 greatest. And the only one starring the Goofy Gophers. Good thing too, those guys are so underrated.

Our story begins with the ending of your classic Warner Bros. cartoon. A dog (who has no name, so let’s call him Hammy) is hit with a pie and flaps his lips. The end. It’s the brevity of this short that makes it work so well. It’s the soul of wit. All right, I’m done pretending you’re actually falling for this. In reality, he is fed up with cartoons. He thinks it’s degrading. (He is clearly an idiot. Well read, but still an idiot.) He decides to quit. (Before doing so, he is subjected to gags without even leaving the room. You’re making so many of us smile. Why would you want to quit?) He decides to pursue more “noble” acting and heads off to his country house to recite some Shakespeare. (Yeah, the man was talented, but animation is entertaining. To everyone.) It’s been awhile since he’s been here it seems, as there are gopher holes everywhere. But I suppose Mac and Tosh realized the house was empty at some point and decided to move in. Hammy finds them asleep in one of his books. He throws them out and gets to work. Not taking kindly to their forced exit, the two began planning some pranks to get back at him. And cleverly enough, they will all allude to what line the dog is reading. Mentioning “tormenting flames” results in a hotfoot. Asking to “drink the joy of life” gets him a tub of water poured on him. And when commenting on how “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he finds Limburger cheese dropped on his head. But these are annoyances at best, the gophers next dress one of them (I can’t tell them apart. I’ll just guess it’s Mac) as a skeleton just as Hammy is lamenting on “poor Yorrick.” (Poor Hammy.) While reciting some lines from “King George and the Dragon” he dresses as a knight. Now covered in metal, the gophers have the chance to fling him around with magnets. And for their grand finale? “A horse! A horse!” Hammy is kicked out of the house and flies all the way back to the studio. They appear to have been waiting for him, as they are ready to start shooting. He opens with his best “To be…” but is silenced by a pie in the face. Welcome back to the fun side. We’ve missed you.

Okay to be fair, I don’t hate Shakespeare. Those are some really well written stories. I just don’t think it fair for Hammy to call animation “degrading.” It’s art. That’s not up for debate.

Personal Rating: 4

Bah, Humduck! (A Looney Tunes Christmas)

“What do I look like, an ATM?”

Merry Christmas to all who visit my humble blog! With Christmas nearby, it is time to talk about this special. It starts with our narrator, Bugs Bunny. He declares that even though rabbits are associated with Easter, he still loves Christmas. (Besides remember the last Easter we saw Bugs?) He is nearly hit by a limo. The owner of said limo? Daffy Duck. Owner of the Luckyduck Superstore. He has an awesome hover scooter, and not one speck of generosity. He refuses to help a poor, homeless, (playboy) penguin, and steals the bucket of carolers egghead jr., henrey hawk, barnyard dawg as a puppy for some reason, (?) and Priscilla Pig. (more on her later.) Daffy has many employees working at his store. Including Sam sheepdog, Miss Prissy, Charlie dog, the three bears, a security guard (Gossamar) who is sitting on Santa (Cecil) Turtles lap, Foghorn Leghorn, Slowpoke Rodriguez, Claude cat, Hubie and Bertie, Mac and Tosh, Beaky Buzzard, Hippitey Hopper, and  a (Pete) Puma janitor. (Just like in Tiny Toons) He also has some employees with a bit more personality. Including Elmer Fudd, who works very hard, and is exhausted, he needs time off. Wile E. Coyote, who is constantly hungry, and needs food. Marvin the Martian who is homesick and wishes to return home for the holidays. (Martian Christmas?) Speedy Gonazales who does wrapping, Pepe Le Pew, who tries to get to know a shopper who looks just like skunk, (No really Penelope, why do you have that stripe?) and my man, Porky Pig, his assisstant manager. Whom Daffy shortly demotes to assisstant-assissant manager. Bugs warns him that greedy people tend to get visited by Christmas ghosts. Daffy has no worry and heads to his office. There he is visited by his idol, Sylvester the (cat) Investor. He was the greediest person around, before he was murdered. Daffy now has that title, and is being warned that he must change his ways. He may be spooked, but Daffy is sure this is a prank. After visited by Bugs again, (he was searching for cheap skates, and was directed here.) he gets a passage delivered by a roadrunner. (I have no idea, if he is an employee or not.) It is a gift Daffy sent to himself, a godly remote that can do just about anything for his office. His emplyoees then come asking for favors, but are are snubbed. Porky just wants to have Christmas off so he can spend time with his daughter, Priscilla. (Now let me just say, that she is ADORABLE! She is proably the second cutest cartoon character ever! Right after Bubbles of the powerpuff girls. It is no coincidence, that this is true, Tara Strong is great at playing cuties. To an extent. In my opinion “Drawn Together” is one of the worst excueses for a cartoon ever. Mostly because it looks like it might be a decent show. Animation sterotypes living together? Genius! But they screw it up and make it in really bad taste. And then insult much better cartoons as well. Rant over.) Daffy refuses and demands that everyone come in at 5:00 AM the next day. Everyone leaves discouraged. Bugs is still there with Daffy as the exits are covered in snow. Daffy demands the seperate and soon after, is visited by the ghost of Christmas past. Or rather ghosts. Granny and Tweety take Daffy back to his past, and we see how hard his childhood was. He lived at an orphanage, and was never adopted. Morons. Why wouldn’t you want to adopt the world’s funniest duck? (I said FUNNIEST, not most popular. Donald fans stop threating me.) And for that matter where is that swan? She took him in. Forget it. This does little to change his ways and Daffy just wants to use their powers “Back to the Future 2” style to get more money. He is sent back to the store. The ghost of Christmas present is played by… Yosemite Sam? I think you could have chosen a better character for that. Maybe swicth with Sylvester? Anyways, he shows Daffy how hard his employes lives are. Another adorable scene shows, that Priscilla wants two things for Christmas, a doll, and for her daddy to spend it with her. (Too. Cute. Someday i’m going to buy a pig. And it will have Mrs. Strong’s voice so help me Bob.) Daffy is not convinced quite yet, and begs Bugs to hide him. They reenact “Tom Turk and Daffy” but ultimately Daffy is taked by the ghost of Christmas future, the Tasmanian Devil. He sees his grave, and learns that his employees are out of jobs, because he tried to will the store to himself. Porky remarks that at least he and Priscilla can spend Christmas together. (With Porky! She didn’t die yet!) Being an angel, she leves some cookies for Daffy, (which look hilarious) and wishes him luck, since she knows he’s not in heaven. (Laughing) Daffy finally resolves to change his ways and the next day, gives everyone a paid vacation, as well as a rocket home for Marvin, and a personal chef for Wile. (Francois from “French Rarebit”) Even Pepe gets a kiss from Penelope. (her choice. she wasn’t bribed) Daffy sees how much his genorosity is going to cost him, and briefly tries to get it back, when Priscilla offers him a hilarious looking cookie, and calls him Uncle. (I wish she’d do that to me) Daffy remains generous to the delight of Bugs and the ghosts. We end with Priscilla saying our “That’s all Folks!” (Did i mention how adorable she is?)

Overall this short, is nothing great, but if you are a Looney Tunes fan, you’ll enjoy it.

Personal Rating: 2 for the common folk, 3 for the Looney-tics.

The Bugs Bunny Show

“On with the show, this is it!”

During the sixties, “Looney Tunes” was on its last legs. Also during this time, Looney Tunes got a TV show. (Why not? It was the latest fad!) The premise was simple: Bugs showing us cartoons with various bridging sequences in between, such as Bugs feeding Taz carrots or Slowpoke coming to visit Speedy. The show was black and white which may have been odd today since all the shorts in the theaters were color, but color TV was only starting to get started. Lack of pigment  was a small price to pay for the convenience of watching animated masterpieces in your own living room.

Now for the bad news. This show is gone and you’re not liable to find any full episodes. (At least, as I’m originally writing this.) If you ever have seen, or have any somehow, you are quite lucky. Maybe you’d like to make the rest of the world feel as lucky as you?

Personal Rating: (From what little I’ve seen) 3

Space Jam

“You guys are nuts.”

“Correction, we’re Looney Tunes”

I love this movie, but then again, I am a Looney Tunes fanboy. It’s sad most of the world seems to hate it. I think that is bull crap. This is a masterpiece if ever there was one. At least it did great at the box office.

The history is that people made commercials with Bugs and Michael Jordan advertising basketball shoes. So they figured making a movie was a good idea. (I think it was.) Our plot is that a theme park in outer space, (it is not specified which planet, but I think the whole park is its own planet) sucks. (How can people say that? Didn’t you ever want to ride an astro-orbiter wannabe that shoots at you? Oh yeah, me neither) The owner decides they need new attractions and figures that the Looney Tunes are just the thing. I’d come.

However, Bugs tricks them into thinking they need to give the toons a chance to defend themselves. Since the aliens are short and have tiny limbs, basketball seems like a shoe in. However the aliens have the ability to steal the ability from five NBA players. Luckily, Jordan was retired at this time. So they don’t nab him. The toons get him for their side and we get the greatest game in all history!

This also introduced us to Lola. She did not have much of a personality in this movie, save for being someone for Bugs to be attracted to. Seems she was popular though, as she appeared in “Baby Looney Tunes”, “Tweety’s High Flying Adventure”, and “The Looney Tunes Show.”

Bottom line if you hate this you have no taste and at the very least you have to watch it once. (There must be more who love this, I know it!) “Tune” in next time where I will name all the Looney Tunes who appear in the film as well as some interesting facts. Woo hoo hoo hoo! Woo hoo!

Personal Rating: 3. (Unless you’re one of those people who can’t stand anything Looney that came out after the Golden age. For you, it’s a 2.)

Lumber Jerks

“It seems like they are bent on the destruction of our forest.”

For odd reasons the gophers are more like tree squirrels in this short. They are gathering acorns for the winter only to find their tree is gone. A quick search later and it is found among many others in a river. They try to paddle it back to shore but wind up going down a waterfall and ending up at a sawmill. Narrowly avoiding being sliced they notice where they are. Its the sawmill from hell! They are turning trees into sawdust and then mixing with glue and water to make fake logs, and sharpening whole trunks into toothpicks. Finding their stolen property (now a chest of drawers) they siphon the gas from the delivery truck and catch up to it.  We see that they have built a new tree out of furniture which is much nicer than the old one because they have television. Really enjoying it, they think that they will enjoy it more once they have electricity.

Personal Rating: 3