Friday, November 02, 2007

Kennedy Cartoons Lives!

Ron "Keeper" O'Dell says that Tiny Toons will be coming to DVD next year, and this Earl Kress post would seem to back him up, obliquely.

Oddly enough, O'Dell's source says that Animaniacs volume 4 isn't currently in production; whether that means it's been stopped, or just that it won't come out until the first volume of Tiny Toons, I don't know. (The last 24 episodes of Animaniacs are mostly disappointing but they do contain some good cartoons -- like "Back in Style," a Tom Minton script similar to and just as good as his famous New Adventures of Mighty Mouse cartoon "Don't Touch That Dial.")

The Tiny Toons episodes were aired in a weird order and I have no idea which order they'll be in on the DVD; we're likely to get 24-25 episodes, but which ones is another question. They will include at least a few of the earliest-produced episodes, with contributions from Bob Camp, Jim Reardon, Eddie Fitzgerald (who actually stuck around for much of the series) and even John Kricfalusi (he designed a character, uncredited, for the episode "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?"). There was a struggle between the non-drawing writers and the artists or artist/writers who had been drafted from The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse; for better or worse, the scriptwriters won pretty decisively as the series went on.

Hopefully the first volume of Tiny Toons will sell well, as future volumes will have some substantial music costs and Warners will have to be willing to spend more money on them. (I'm referring to the two music-video episodes, which used They Might Be Giants, Aretha Franklin and the Coasters among others.)


John Pannozzi said...

Earl Kress originally said that a show that aired from 1995 to 1997 is coming to DVD. I think he meant Freakazoid.
I doubt there will be much trouble with Tiny Toons' music rights, seeing as how the They Might Be Giants segments were included in a recent TMBG DVD. I'm more concerned about the CBS prime time version of the Looney Beginning and the Plucky Duck Show version of Return of Batduck.

P.S. Check out the latest entry in John K.'s blog. It's about Don't Touch that Dial and Tom Minton has made a very interesting expose in the comments.

Loren said...

I wouldn't be too worried about the musical episode just yet, since that was one of the few episodes that got released on videotape several years back.

I know that's still no guarantee, but if they had the rights worked out to allow for the episode to headline its own tape, I have faith that they'll do what they need to in order to get it on DVD too.

Anonymous said...

Just curious.....what about the CBS version of A Looney Beginning as the one that later aired as part of the show?

Also, IIRC, The Return of Batduck, when aired as part of Tiny Toons, included the Plucky Duck Show opening. Whether this meant the show was trimmed a little, though, is another story....

In any event, I'm really looking forward to these DVDs.

Linda said...

YESSSS! I want Tiny Toons. Hope the Christmas special is in there eventually.

Jenny Lerew said...

Eddie stuck around for the entire series of TTA, all of it. He worked right up until the very last of the 65 or 100 or whatever it was(it was 65, wasn't it?), virtually all of the last ones he did were on Rich Arons' crew. Of course, Rich's crew had been Eddie's crew, originally.

By the end of the series original Fitzgerald crew members Jim Gomez, Bob Camp, Jim Smith, Chris Reccardi, and even Fontanelli were all working at Spumco. Eddie didn't quit WB TV until a ways into actual production of "Animanaics!"(he did boards, as he did on TTA after his director stint), for the end of Spumco's second season and shortly before the split between Spumco and Nick.

There was a hell of a lot of superb(truly)talent on TTA. As I wrote you long ago, though, I can still remember the shock I felt at seeing the first finished show come back from overseas; it wasn't close to looking as beautiful as the storyboards and layout that were shipped. That was an eye opener I'll never forget.
I didn't work on that first show I saw come back, btw-it was mostly an Art Vitello episode, IIRC. it wasn't the first one aired, that's for sure.

Tom said...

The first several TTA eps were animated by various overseas shops, and one domestic, very local one whose work was so embarrassing it was buried deep for as long as possible. The very first short I wrote for Warners, "The Toxic Revenger", fell victim to that abysmal situation. At one point, Steven visited and wondered where that cartoon was. Ruegger told him "We didn't want to bum you out." It was heavy in major retakes and the thing was not improving. A few months into production, I mentioned to Ruegger that TMS was suddenly available. I recall him asking me if they were any good, since H-B had never used them. (H-B indeed never had. They favored Cuckoo's Nest in Taiwan, the same shop that animated Bakshi's Mighty Mouse, which TTA was leaning on heavily in 1989) The first TMS ep of TTA that came back marked a huge turning point for the series, setting a standard higher than any other overseas studio. Most of the Emmy winning eps of both TTA and Animaniacs ended up being animated by TMS. The best eps of TTA were front-loaded for airing, a luxury many series never enjoy due to tight scheduling. Looking back on that era today reveals not only how much talent was involved but how much clout Steven's presence wielded. It allowed tons of money to be spent to virtually build a major TV animation studio from the ground up. I was there from Februray 1989 through the first 65 half hours of TTA, starting as a writer who did a couple of storyboards and ending up a story editor. Then I spent two years at Walt Disney Television Animation, returning to Warners in September of 1992.

Tom Minton

John Pannozzi said...

"The first several TTA eps were animated by various overseas shops, and one domestic, very local one whose work was so embarrassing it was buried deep for as long as possible."

I assume the domestic studio you mention is Jon McClenahan's Startoons, which TTA and A! actually generally consider to be really good. Jon McClenahan even posts at Toon Zone under the user name "Jonny Mack". (BTW, I'd be neat if Jenny and Tom could find the time to post on Toon Zone).

Jaime J. Weinman said...

I assume the domestic studio you mention is Jon McClenahan's Startoons

Startoons didn't start animating for Warners until the second or third season ("Henny Youngman Day" was their first).

Tom said...

No,it wasn't John's Chicago (actually Homewood, IL) studio. They did good work.

Jenny Lerew said...

I remember first hearing, then finally seeing the legendarily awful locally-animated episode of TTA; it really was as inept and terrible-looking as reputed(and that's saying something). Honestly, I can't remember what the place was that did it, but it was a total botch. What a shame.

Startoons did an exemplary job, on tight turnarounds(if not overall budgets; the 500K that TTA cost was likely the highest TV animation budget going back then)and with difficult assignments.

Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski deliberately designed BTAS to be much more doable with overseas studios--one of the problems with TTA was that it was a heck of a hard design to animate right(much less well), and all too easy to do poorly. A show with simplified shapes would have been easier.

In my opinion, another stumbling block was the sometimes scattered way the shows were assembled: WB made enough of an effort to have character layout artists "key" every scene's poses(the job I initially had there). Most TV animation studios in the US skipped this step, going straight from storyboard drawings to overseas' animators scenes.

The character layout process was supposed to heavily involve the director or whomever did the timing of the animationon onto sheets actually using the exact character keys/layouts; all too often, however, time and/or an indifferent supervisor meant that the layouts never jibed with the exposure sheets--and the painstakingly drawn keys were tossed as meaningless, or at best as a rough "guide" rather than the extremes they were supposed to be. When they were used, and when the show was in the hands of a good timer as well as a good board artist, the results were exponentially better.
And yes, TMS usually did the slickest job, overall. They were the favored sons(my shows went to Akom).