It’s funny what can happen sometimes. In my episode review of Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian, I lamented Warner Brothers’ last releasing a boxset of Tiny Toon Adventures way back in 2009. As if some cosmic force heard my thoughts, we now have the release of Tiny Toon Adventures – Crazy Crew Rescues!
It sounds like some kind of made-for-tv movie, but this is the series’ Season 2 release many of us have been waiting for!
The set also includes four episodes from Season 3 of the series. This could be to balance out the eventual Volume 4 release, so that both of these volumes have (almost) the same number of episodes. As to when (and if) we’ll get Volume 4, it’s too soon to say.
It’s amazing how the animated series churned out over 65 episodes(!) in its first season, and then followed up its second season with only 13. Maybe the break-neck pace of the first season killed off most of the staff.
There are a couple episodes in Season 3 that really made me happy to see again. Notable among them are:
Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian – One of my all-time favorites, as mentioned in one of my previous Retro Recaps. Notable for being the only time in the series where Steven Spielberg voices himself!
Kon Ducki – Plucky Duck’s epic film about sailing to Salinas in 21 days, including a making-of special tacked on.
Sepulveda Blvd – a parody of Sunset Boulevard, where Montana Max portrays a plagiarizing cartoon writer, who shacks up with washed-up former cartoon star, Elmyra Desmond.
This DVD set also contains two episodes with segments regarding Plucky Duck as a child, that are often remembered by many to this day. One is in regards to him using the toilet (“I wanna flush it again”), and another revolving around a mall elevator (“elelator go down the hole”). If either of the quotes in that last line sound familiar to you, then you surely know one or both of these segments.
It’s also notable that several of the episodes include background characters that would appear in the direct-to-video special, How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
One of the highlights of the set, is the inclusion of an episode that was removed from television syndication due to controversy. In the episode Elephant Issues (a parody of the phrase “relevant issues”), the three segments cover everything from illiteracy, prejudice, and peer pressure. The segment regarding peer pressure, titled One Beer, was what put the episode in jeopardy. In the episode, Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, and Hampton J Pig, find a bottle of beer in the fridge. Plucky and Hampton soon give in to Buster’s needling, and the three plunge into a television-style ride through the dangers of underage intoxication.
“But Buster, this isn’t like you,” says Hampton at one point.
“I know,” replies Buster. “But in this episode, we’re showing the evils of alcohol.”
Rumor is this episode only aired once, but as is the internet, I can’t find enough sources to make this a concrete fact. Though in a sense, it seems every series has at least one episode that makes people do a double-take.
There’s another episode that includes a line that I’m pretty sure would be a red flag with censors today. It involves Buster and Plucky talking about how to get Babs to stop her incessant comedy routines. Plucky’s response after a couple impressions? “Shoot her…just shoot her.”
While the release of these episodes is welcome, the quality of the ‘presentation’ of the episodes has taken a steep nosedive. It seems that the objective for this set was simply to get episodes out, with minimal involvement.
To show what I mean, I’m including screenshots showing the downgrade in presentation quality. First, a side-by-side comparison of an “episodes” screen from 2009′s Season 1, Vol 2 set, and one from Vol 3:
And now, let’s look at the quality of the disc-art from both releases:
I know not many people buy these boxsets for stuff like this, but come on, show us a little more care Warner Brothers! The DVD menu and disc art for this set looks like something some of us could do making bootleg Season 3 sets on our own time!
Much like the previous DVD release, there are no special features. No interviews with voice talent like Charles Adler or Tress MacNeille, and nothing from the crew who worked on the series. Pretty sad, as even additional DVD releases of Animaniacs and Freakazoid got some extras.
In the end, Crazy Crew Rescues wins no points for creativity, but gets the job done in fishing into the well of nostalgia, and bringing some more cartoons into the light.
To close out this little review, I thought I’d include two scenes from one of the episodes, showing Babs Bunny doing impressions that just wouldn’t fly today (but managed to get past censors in 1991):
Retro Recaps is where we will look back at old television episodes from the past, and analyze their story, content, and much more.
To some people, the only thing better than having a favorite television show, is hoping in some way that you could infiltrate it, and do something truly awesome. Hence, people who think they have an awesome idea for an episode, would write or type it out, and send it off to the studios, eager to hear back that their brilliance was rewarded. However, this almost never happens. Fanmade scripts are often tossed aside (hey, the actual scriptwriters gotta eat, y’know!). But, in 1991, a series of amazing circumstances actually brought one of these fanmade scripts into the proper hands.
Renee Carter, Sarah Creef, and Amy Crosby were three girls who loved the Tiny Toon Adventures series, and in their free time, concocted a script titled Buster & Babs Go Hawaiian. A one-in-a-million chance event ended up delivering their script into the hands of Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment, where it was seen as potential story material!
The girls were flown out to California in February of 1991, where they met Steven Spielberg, and even had a story session with the show’s writers to tighten up the material. Also a bonus, was that like many of the staff, they ended up being caricatured in a small scene in the episode (though they do not provide their own voices). An article in People Magazine, also mentions that they were paid pretty well for their concept, which originally went from an offer of $250, to $3900 (and to 13-year-olds, that was a lot of money back in 1991!). You can find another article about the girls in the archives of their hometown newspaper, the Hampton Roads Daily Press. Simply Click Here.
Though they got a lot of press in some of the big entertainment magazines, I first heard of them at that time when they appeared in an issue of the magazine, Disney Adventures, which also featured a picture of the girls with Steven Spielberg. I’ve since lost the issue, but I remember the fact that these girls not two years older than me wrote for one of my favorite animated shows at the time was definitely something.
Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian didn’t appear on television until November of 1991, and much how each episode was developed around a central theme, the story written by these 13-year-old girls was the glue that held it together. So, let’s get a little introspective with Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.
The episode starts with a title card showing Hampton J Pig in an Errol Flynn-like production titled, Fleche de Lard. In a dark castle, we see the evil Lord Sebastian intending to take the female love interest, Lady Mae, as his bride. However, his plans are thwarted when Sir Hampton the Prudent arrives. Vanquishing the slobbering foe, Hampton is just about to kiss his beloved, when…
…Buster and Babs appear, stopping production, and upset about the day’s episode containing both a mediocre script, and no starring roles for either of them! Leaving Hampton in anger at being denied a starring role (“I even got the girl!” he pleads), the two rabbits go to the scriptwriters, but find no sympathy.
They then decide to go straight to The Big Guy, and burrow their way to an undisclosed studio in Hollywood.
We next get a few shameless caricature/cameos. First up is Robin Williams as Peter Pan.
Close behind is Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook (albeit sounding and looking more like his character Raymond Babbitt from Rain Man).
These two cameos were like ‘coming attractions,’ as Hook would be released in theaters almost a month after this episode first aired.
Even with their star status, Buster and Babs are unable to get permission from the guard to go through (even though he lets a familiar-sounding rabbit named Roger pass!), so, they burrow their way underground, and into the lobby of Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment.
We get another series of cameos in the Amblin lobby. Impatiently waiting to see Steven, are Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, George Lucas in a Darth Vader suit, and Broadway producer Andrew Lloyd Webber in a cat suit (because he produced the Broadway show, Cats…get it?).
(On a side-note, I just recently discovered why Webber is in the lobby. At the time of this episode, Webber was working with Spielberg and his Amblimation Animation Studios in London to adapt Cats for the big screen. One1more2time3′s Weblog has plenty of details and art of the animated film that didn’t make it out of the gutter)
Eventually, Buster and Babs pop up in Steven’s office, only to be met by a loud “Get out of here you no good vermin!”
However, it’s soon seen that Spielberg is talking to a video game he’s playing.
The two get his attention by (accidentally) pulling the game’s plug, and plead their case that they want a decent script. It is then that Steven gives them the script written by the girls. Simply based on the title (after all, who reads scripts these days?), the two agree to do it.
After leaving the offices, the two get to work reading the script, and Buster soon starts to panic. Apparently, some of the episode will take place on an airplane, and Buster has a contractual stipulation that he doesn’t do plane scenes, on account of his fear of flying.
Calling up the girls, he’s pulled through the phone to one of their bedrooms. The girls discuss his concerns, but claim that stipulation or not, they won’t change the scenes.
With that formality out of the way, the episode gets started, with Buster and Babs checking their luggage at the airport (checked/eaten by Dizzy Devil).
Making their way onto the plane, Buster’s aerophobia isn’t helped when the in-flight meal is served by Plucky (a choice is provided of grey lumps in brown sauce…or brown lumps in grey sauce).
Upon arrival in Hawaii, the two are greeted by Shirley the Loon, and Fifi la Fume, who greet them with a traditional lei welcome (with optional flower-killing guilt provided by Shirley).
It is shortly after this, that they find all their money is gone, but Buster has a silver lining to this problem: an Acme Express Gold Card! They attempt to rent a limo to get to the hotel…
…but quickly change their mind when they find out Elmyra is manning the rental car desk!
Flagging down a taxi, Babs asks Buster how he got a credit card. Buster claims that it isn’t his…it’s Bugs Bunny’s!
It is then that Bugs makes a small cameo, first shocked at this revelation, and then voicing his displeasure upon finding the empty card slot in his wallet.
We return to the story, with Buster and Babs checking into their hotel, where they are greeted by Go-Go Do-Do as the Concierge, being his usual wacky self.
After his harrowing experience on the airplane, all Buster wants to do is relax, but Babs pleads with him to go sightseeing. He gives in, and they go on a helicopter tour of the island’s volcanoes. While Babs enjoys it, Buster copes with the situation as best as he can.
After getting his land legs back, Buster decides to hit the beach nearby and go surfing. While catching some waves, he has a close encounter with a shark (actually, Elmyra with a fake fin on her head, requesting Buster ‘play Treasure Island’ with her).
The scene later cuts to Buster and Babs attending a luau inside an active volcano. Naturally, the volcano ends up exploding, pitching our two rabbits out to sea.
A cutaway shot shows our two rabbits adrift in the volcanic aftermath, before Buster spots land in the distance!
And with that, the (unnamed) director of the episode yells “Cut,” and the production of Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian is complete.
Steven Spielberg and the girls show up in a golf cart afterwards, with Steven thanking the two rabbits for their hard work. He also presents them with a new script the girls have written: Buster and Babs go to Mars in a Rocketship!
As Steven and the girls speed away, Buster’s aerophobia comes back, but he is soon snapped out of it when Bugs Bunny appears…
…and presents Buster with a large credit card bill that the two rabbits racked up in Hawaii!
Realizing they need to get away, Babs grabs Buster, and the two hightail it to a nearby rocketship, heading off to Mars (with Buster inside nervously repeating how much he hates flying).
And that was Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.
While the episode isn’t the most solid episode of the show, there’s still plenty of fun little entertainment cameos here and there, not to mention that the episode also is the only time in the history of the show, where Steven Spielberg voices himself. All his other ‘appearances’ are voiced by Frank Welker (who in some episodes, does a pretty good job getting down some of Steven’s nuances). Still, I think hearing Steven Spielberg saying “Get out of here you no good vermin,” is one of the wildest things he’s ever uttered. One can only imagine what the recording session was like.
I will admit I truncated a few scenes in the episode (yes, I’ve become what I’ve feared most: a condenser!), such as a parody of the American Express Travelers Checks commercials, and a ‘special report’ segment where a man explained about Q-tips.
When putting together this blog post, I did wonder what became of the three girls. I did a small Google search, but came up with next to nothing. In their People Magazine interview, Amy Creef and Sarah Crosby spoke of their dreams to become singers, while Renee Carter said she would love to work for Warner Bros Animation. According to IMDB, Renee has done a couple other projects in Hollywood, including serving as executive producer on an animated short, titled The Bed Bug Thing.
In a way, the episode was like those old tour-de-force celebrity production numbers, where you got alot of famous faces together for a big production. Warner Bros attempted such a mish-mash with the main Looney Tunes characters with Space Jam, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action. However, even Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian stays short and sweet, while those movies ended up seeming like a long schlep to get through.
One sad note has been how Warner Bros has treated Tiny Toon Adventures over the last few years. The studio started releasing the series on DVD, but only got as far as releasing two volumes of the first season. Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian appeared during the show’s second season, and as of now, there’s been no word if we’ll see any more volume releases. Warner Bros did the same start-and-stop routine with Animaniacs, which only got as far as Season 3. I say it’s a sad note, because one could easily imagine these girls (now grown women) eagerly purchasing the DVD set, and showing friends and family how they made it on television!
*Update* When I first wrote this review, I had no idea that Warner Brothers was in the process of readying Season 2 of the series for DVD release! Now, Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian, and 16 other episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, has been released on the DVD set, Tiny Toon Adventures – Crazy Crew Rescues! Needless to say, a DVD review for it was in order. Click Here to read some of my thoughts on it.