Thursday, July 25, 2013

Loonatics Unleashed – The Heir Up There (Snark)

Boy am I not looking forward to this one…the episode begins in Loonatics HQ in the dead of night, and we get shots of the various idiots’ bedrooms.

Let’s see if we can glean something of the Loonatics’ personalities and interests from their personal effects. Bugs has a blanket spangled with carrots and what looks like a snowboard by the window. Lexi has a pair of water skis, a surfboard, a beach bucket and shovel and sleeps in a hammock.

Taz has a huge barbell hanging over his bed, and there’s a computer he’d probably just as soon eat as log onto. He’s also got a drumstick there as a midnight snack, and a picture of what looks like a slice of pizza on the wall.

And that’s it. The others are shown in way too tight closeup to see much of anything. Oh well, they sorta tried.

Oh yeah, and this is shown in split screen as a sinister black ship cruises toward the building in preparation to attack. The first taste of its pilot’s voice destroys any and all menace this could’ve conceivably had, though. Because while they try to hide him in shadow, the attack’s being carried out by none other than interplanetary mercenary Sylth Vester, lisp as huge as ever.

The Loonatics are woken up by fighter drones firing upon their building, and run to defend themselves. This gives an idea of how Mastermind was able to get inside so easily, as the weapons they focus on are just guns that amplify the Loonatics’ own regular attacks, in this case Bugs’s laser vision and Lexi’s ear lasers. That is, the weapons are just extensions of their powers and with no Loonatics around to provide the firepower themselves, the base’s bigger defensive measures are just hunks of metal.

Bugs wonders where Daffy’s at during the attack, but again, he’s supposed to be the incompetent one. Isn’t not having him around supposed to be a plus, as often as it actually shows the opposite to be true?

Sylvester gloats to himself Zadvia will never get to the Loonatics in time to put something into motion before he blows them up. Thing is, he pronounces her name “zuh-day-vee-uh,” while it’s always been pronounced “zuh-dah-vee-uh.”

Despite Sylvester’s confidence, the Loonatics manage to shoot down his drones. Ya see, the characters who were originally comical antagonists whose every attempt ended in humiliating failure and extreme pain (and who weren’t reimagined as heroes), like Sam, Sylvester, and Elmer? They’re still pretty much the same thing even with the genre change. The only time Sylvester gets to show off what a badass he is is in the series finale, when he’s helping the Loonatics.

He’s so incompetent that when his boss (who most assuredly is a deep-voiced man like he sounds) checks in, Sylvester even pushes the wrong button while trying to kill the link while trying to pretend he’s losing the connection so he won’t have to report his failure.

Zuh-day-vee-uh arrives at the HQ just as Sylvester mentioned (shouldn’t she be off ruling Freleng or something? I seem to remember something about the Loonatics toppling its dictator), in a shot recycled from “Acmegeddon” where she pulled up in her Frelengian ship. Which was destroyed in the process of getting them to Optimatus’s asteroid. Where’d this one come from? They got away in Optimatus’s personal ship, which doesn’t look a thing like that and which will be acknowledged shortly. What’s going on with the white ship?

No I actually didn't take a new screencap. There was no point.

She introduces the team to Queen Grannicus of planet Blanc in the Merrie Melody galaxy. Guys, that’s way too obvious! That’s worse than planet Georwell from the old Justice Machine comic books.

Enemies surround Blanc, and the only way to ensure the planet’s defense is to install the rightful heir to the throne. This worthy proves to be the Royal Tweetums, who proudly proclaims himself to be only three-and-a-half parsecs old. At least he didn’t say he was three-and-a-half light years old. But any sympathy you might’ve had for Tweety getting victimized by mean ol’ Sylvester? Leave it at the door.

By the way, Grannicus and Tweetums. Yeah. At least they were sort of trying with Sylth Vester.

“There are forces that do not want [Tweety] to reach planet Blanc,” Zadavia helpfully explains. Yeah? Wow, sounds serious. Who are these guys? What do they want? Oh, you’re not gonna tell us? Okay.

Zadavia goes on to explain how serious the stakes are. “The last time Blanc was invaded, the universe was plunged into an intergalactic war that lasted 1500 years.” If Tweety doesn’t assume the throne, the same’s going to happen again (and as with all flashbacks, despite it showing hyper-advanced spaceships, and despite being a video explicitly shown to the characters and not simply intercut footage, they don’t have color recordings).

Allow me to just take a minute to say...are you kidding me, Zadavia??? Or should I say, Writing Staff? This one planet’s so important, if you don’t take this assignment the whole universe is looking at 1500 years of violence and destruction. No mention of what makes it so important, it just is.

I'm just saying, but if people are willing to fight over this planet for centuries, what's so important about Blanc would seem to be fairly common knowledge. Plus what the bad guys are after in the season finale is Blanc's big secret, and they already know what it is. I can understand the writers wanting to keep something a surprise to make the reveal more dramatic, but then you should make an effort for the secrecy to make some kind of sense. I know they were trying to tie this show more into the silliness of the old material, buuuut it was still supposed to be an action show with consequences, too.

Lighten up and don't take this so seriously, I can already hear somebody saying, since that's what the show itself is doing, after all. Let me repeat something I just said: the climax of the season is the bad guys going after Blanc's big secret, which they already know about. And it IS something that's all serious and important, not some kind of gag where everyone THINKS it must be important because of all the secrecy but it's really something stupid like Tweety's bronzed baby shoes.

Bugs off course needs no further enticing to take on the job, and announces he, Taz and Daffy will be running the escort mission while the others stay behind to “watch our backs.” Furthermore they’ll be taking the ship they commandeered from Optimatus. “[Wile E.] retrofitted it from top to bottom with thrusters, blasters, even a juice bar that serves the finest carrot smoothie this side of Gemini.” The flagship of a would-be galactic despot didn’t already have those first two things, I guess. Guys, you don’t send your ultimatum before the doomsday weapon’s done and your Legions of Terror are ready to march. Play some Evil Genius fer chrissakes.

Inconsistent pronunciation strikes again! Bugs pronounces it “op-tuh-may-tus,” not “mot-us.” The latter being how it’s been pronounced by everybody who ever used that character’s actual name and not some stupid derivation meant as an insult. Would it have been so hard to include pronunciation aides in the scripts?

One last thing. Bugs is bringing Taz and Daffy as the other escorts? I sort of get Taz even though he’s a dumb, barely comprehensible brute, as he’s the Loonatics’ tank. But Daffy? He’s supposed to be the stupid/incompetent one. And this is a mission that will lead to intergalactic warfare if they don't pull it off.

Once underway, Bugs points out they’re running with a skeleton crew, so everybody needs to stick with their assignment. You wouldn’t be running with a skeleton crew if you hadn’t split your forces by 50%, and that might’ve been advisable when piloting an unfamiliar ship on a mission that’ll cause galaxy-spanning war if it fails. After already being attacked once. Hope that nebulous task you gave them’s worth it, Bugs.

“Naturally, I’ll be the pilot.” And keeping your blandness well off-screen. I’m okay with that. “[Taz] will be in charge of the engines, the weapons and the kitchen.” The engines? What’s he going to do there? And I’m pretty sure the “kitchen” is called a “galley.” Daffy, of course, is put in charge of the least important job, watching the heir this entire mission revolves around protecting.

The other Loonatics actually are doing something back at HQ, which is, I think, surrounding the ship with a shield that renders it basically invisible. I think because it’s explained by Roadrunner, who never says something in ten words when he can use fifty. While even I’ll admit that’s kind of annoying, Bugs evidently has no interest in what his defensive measures consist of on this vitally important mission and turns him off, then checks in on Taz saying he can’t wait to see what Taz is making for dinner. Taz is busy doing nothing but emptying the entire fridge into his mouth.  JUST LIKE EVERYONE EXPECTED BUT YOU DAMN YOU SUCK AT BEING A SUPERHERO BUGS.

Sorry to keep you up, prick.

Also, as awesome as that invisibility shield no doubt is, they probably wouldn’t need it if they weren’t spread so thin one guy’s in charge of the engines, the weapons, and making dinner. Not if this ship’s half as awesome as Bugs made it out to be. And should be without any additions since it was, again, the flagship of the biggest villain the show’s had yet.

But then, we’re really talking about the problem at the heart of the show itself: it doesn’t explain itself well enough to work seriously, and it isn’t willing to be silly enough to get away with the kind of minimalist explanations for major plot elements this episode’s full of. Loonatics Unleashed is supposed to be an action-comedy, but after the hostile response to the original trailer, it seems afraid to be too much of one or the other, and winds up not being much of anything at all.

And even when it does apply itself toward one or the other, as it’s about to, it can’t match passion with aptitude, and we’re in for some of the most tedius non-humor in this show’s rich history.

Bugs calls up Queen Granny and reports they’re cruising through the Clampett galaxy* and everything’s all ship-shape. He assures her Tweety “couldn’t be in better hands.” And if that isn’t a cue to show the exact opposite (and example #4512 that Bugs has no business being in charge), I don’t know what is.

* (Perhaps you begin to see why I don’t, can't, consider Loonatics Unleashed a thing apart from Looney Tunes. In this episode alone we have three very familiar guest stars, and now an equal number of locations referencing the old stuff too. How can I distance this show from its roots when they’re sitting on my frigging head with it?)

Tweety’s forcing Daffy to bathe him while he sings a stupid song until Daffy gets angry and refuses to pamper Tweety anymore. Tweety demands Daffy keep on pampering him, because he’s a prince and people have to do whatever he says. And if they don’t, he’ll wear diapers and make people who don’t do the most humiliating things he says change him even though he doesn’t wear diapers now.

Installing this punkass in power is going to prevent galaxy-wide warfare. Sorry, but once again I agree with Daffy. Tweety is despicable.

Sylvester is, shocker, nearby and assures his cloaked, deep-male-voiced boss that he’s about to launch another attack. He even calls himself a “super genius.” Uh, no guys. That’s Wile E., not Sylvester. And he’s not a villain in this show.

Back to Daffy and Tweety, where since Daffy refuses to play with the obnoxious royal “mustard stain,” Tweety decides to make the duck play hide-and-seek in the guts of the arch-villain’s warship. Right when Bugs checks in to remind Daffy that galactic warfare’s hanging over their heads if the mission fails. And Bugs is the one who gave Daffy this job, so who’s the real idiot here?

Tweety wanders into a door marked with several large “keep out”-type signs. Sure, maybe at only 3 ½ parsecs old he can’t read them (but again, he’s ruler of the most important planet in the universe…?). But it’s so dangerous, yet the door will just slide open, happy to be of assistance, to anybody who wants to go in? Maybe Optimatus didn’t care because all his minions were robots, but Wile E. “retrofitted it from top to bottom,” but didn’t add a lock to this particular door?

Yeah, Daffy’s a jerk. But the problems he exacerbates are ones created because the rest of the Loonatics are plain ol’ morons.

Daffy follows Tweety into a jungle of power cables, and of course gets comedically fried when Tweety pushes the button that’ll fry somebody inside those cables when it’s pressed. Daffy understandably locks Tweety in his little…thing with chains after this, but Tweety, being an asshole guaranteed to start the war this mission’s meant to prevent, pulls out a paper clip and picks his way free.

Sylvester attacks then, even with the invisible shield up. That either means he’s smart enough to de-encrypt Wile E.’s tech, or…there’s a traitor in their midst! Although that doesn’t occur to them, but I’m not saying anything about their competence or smarts in general I haven’t been saying this whole recap and beyond.

At any rate, either Bugs and Taz suck at flying a ship under combat conditions or Optimatus’s upgraded ship sucks at being in actual combat as their main weapons are knocked out in the first salvo. They still have an ace in the hole, but it’s that exact same thing from HQ where Bugs puts on a helmet that amplifies his laser vision out one of the guns. That’s significantly less cool seeing it for the second time in one episode, guys. You gotta pace yourselves on the cool weapons and special attacks or they get lame.

Tweety gets out and appears to jettison himself out the garbage chute. Daffy teleports outside to try to find him only to be sucked up into Sylvester’s ship. Turns out Tweety never actually left the ship and was just being a dick. He does declare Daffy his best friend and vows to save him, though. Bugs comes in and “just as I thought,” finds both Daffy and Tweety missing. That sounds like an admission of your own epic suckitude, Bugs.

In Sylvester’s battle cruiser, Daffy and Sylvester actually bond over the horrific injuries they’ve sustained at Tweety’s hands (so they’ve been at this a while, then? Actually, I’m not wishing I got to see that. Weird). Daffy becomes my favorite character all over again for not elaborating on “I lost parts of me I never even got to use.”

Tweety gets in and tries to save Daffy, but he’s spotted by Sylvester. That’s what I’m guessing from Sylvester’s menacing laughter, anyway, right before Tweety trots out his trademark line before Sylvester stuffs the heir apparent into his mouth. No, guys, the set-up to “I tot I taw a putty tat” was all wrong there. Tweety was the one sneaking up on Sylvester, not the other way around. He knew for sure the putty tat was there. You can’t just throw a joke out there no matter how recognizable, you gotta set it up properly. It just sounds stupid that way.

Tweety pushes Sylvester’s mouth open, because apparently he has super-strength, frees Daffy and then pushes the large and very obvious self destruct button that Sylvester begs him not to. Daffy and Tweety get out just in time, and a charred Sylvester flies away from the explosion of his ship making TIE Fighter noises. Now that all the danger’s past, it finally occurs to the Loonatics back at base that maybe Sylvester found them so easily because he had somebody on the inside, like that mysterious cloaked, deep-male-voiced benefactor of his…who could that possibly be??

The escort crew deliver Tweety to the only other character in this episode, who congratulates them on a job well done. Until she reveals her scepter has a thingy that makes her voice sound deep and masculine and a bandage-covered Sylvester appears in a heavily-armed wheelchair! Granny has no intention of giving up her completely vague kingdom and hired Sylvester herself!

He blazes away at the Loonatics only for it to turn out–d’oh!—those aren’t the Loonatics, those are just holographic decoys! Having figured out who sold them out, it makes perfect sense to use decoys, I agree. But this is such a hoary old cliché I’m physically pained by typing the words “robot doubles” in sequence, and this was close enough to get my nerves on edge.

Guess Sylvester’s out of ammo, because with the cat out of the bag he and Granny try to make a run for it rather than blasting the real deal. Bugs is on the case and whips out his magic sword, and with a cry of “Guardian Strike Sword Attack!” he surrounds the two fleeing felons with an energy dome before they’re trapped in a jello cube. Guess that’s going to be a regular thing.

Dumb thing number one about this, Granny runs blindly into the dome because she’s looking over her shoulder presumably to see if the Loonatics are gaining on her. Meaning she should definitely see she’s surrounded by a frigging energy dome.

Seriously, how could she not have known about that?

Dumb thing number two, here we are seeing Bugs getting to demonstrate what he’s learned about his sword’s powers. But that’s the cool activation command? The name of the weapon and the word “attack”? Yeah, yeah, I’m being a smartass because I’ve seen the other episodes and I know that’s actually the command to get it assume its attack configuration, and there’s also a defense one. As with the previous episode built around the sword, though, none of this is explained, and this vague command apparently activates all of its features that don’t involve directly protecting Bugs. Because really, that’s a restrain, not an attack. Come on.

A cutaway later Tweety’s the new ruler of Blanc, and makes Daffy a knight of the realm, or planet or whatever, which requires him to hit Daffy over the head with the scepter four or five times for some reason besides making me doubt his reign all over again. It’s not even a retread of the king joke from “Rabbit Hood,” he just bashes Daffy a bunch of times because that, the writing team apparently thought, would be sufficiently humorous on its own.

And what honors are conferred upon a knight of Blanc? He has to do all the humiliating things Tweety tried to make him do anyway with no option of refusal, particularly the bathing him and singing stupid songs thing.

What can I say other than Looney Tunes has become a classic because it had classic humor. This kind of third-rate humor just proves that Loonatics Unleashed was just one in a string of crummy vehicles where the people in charge thought a brand name could carry an entire series.

Good thing we never have those anymore, right?

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