Thursday, July 21, 2016

Baby Looney Tunes: Christmas in July (2002)

We all remember Muppet Babies. Even those of you who have never seen Muppet Babies seem to know it exists and remember it in some strange way. That's the magic of Muppet Babies. That's its power.

But no one remembers Baby Looney Tunes. And, having just seen an episode, I can unequivocally assert that it's better that way. Because this show is awful.

Not just awful; it's humorless, tedious, boring, and pointless. It drags on, offering no justification for existing nor even seeming to try. You feel as though every step of its creation was undertaken in a dimly lit room, that the people working on it had a scotch in one hand and a pencil in the other, and the words, "What have I done with my life?" must have been scribbled around the margins of every script, every character design.

It could have better, is what I'm saying.

The premise of the series is almost precisely the premise of Muppet Babies, to the degree that I can only assume they weren't sued solely because the owners of the Muppet IP would have had to compare their show with this one in a court of law.

This is Muppet Babies stripped of inspiration, comedy, and heart. It is the empty void where imagination goes to die.

The episode opens with the infant characters told by Granny that it's too hot for them to play outside. As a result, they're stuck playing inside. After a brief period of discussion, they settle on playing doctor.

Incidentally, that "brief period of discussion" lasted approximately three billion years. Galactic civilizations rose and fell as the characters decided which of them would choose the game before settling on Lola, a character who is definitely famous and who we all remember from the movie Space Jam; as Lola weighed the merits of playing house version grocery store, and the implications and consequences of her decisions; as Sylvester reflected in terror to the time they made him dress up....

Three. Billion. Years. Give or take - I wasn't actually timing it.

Once Lola's explained how they play doctor, and the characters have finished debating terminology, they realize they don't have a stethoscope, which is absolutely required for the game. But how will they get this mythical device whose name none of them even know?

The answer, of course, is in the title. To get a stethoscope, they will invoke Christmas. They do this the only way they know how. They decorate and wait for Santa. But since Santa only comes when they're asleep, they take a nap.

When they wake up, lo and behold, a single package has appeared under the tree. When Lola opens it, she finds a crappy stethoscope made out of earmuffs, string, and what I assume is a sink plug. She's ecstatic, even as she wonders how Santa knew what she wanted.

The answer comes as the camera cuts to Granny, who's been watching them the whole time. She winks at the screen as we fade out. The implication, of course, being that she made the craft project. And also that she's raising these animals for the slaughter, fattening them up with the intent of butchering and cooking them.

At least, that's my interpretation. Perhaps she just called Santa and told him what to bring.

This is a fairly generic Christmas in July set-up: the kids are trying summon holidays by setting up the decorations, not realizing Christmas is about more than glitz and glitter. It's also about marketing, retail, and profit margins, and those can't simply be generated in the middle of summer. Sure, you can make a little money with a well timed sale, but you're never going to see Black Friday numbers in July: that's just economics.

Likewise, you're never going to recreate the magic of Muppet Babies by de-aging another set of anthropomorphic animal characters and shoving them in the same format. Forget about this one - it's not worth your time.

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