When Tiny Toons debuted in 1990, it was in a league of its own. There wasn’t much to compare it with at the time, becoming an overnight sensation that overhauled the way cartoons connected with their audience. Now, the generation that grew up with it has the chance to introduce these toons to their kids with Tiny Toons Looniversity. Fans of the original might be shocked to learn how much has changed with this reboot, some that absolutely flip what we remember about this show on its head. What’s new with Tiny Toons Looniversity, and will your kids want to attend school with these new versions of old favorites? Let’s find out – class is now in session!
How is Tiny Toons Looniversity different from Tiny Toons?
Tiny Toons Looniversity retains almost nothing from the classic Tiny Toons we watched weekday afternoons after school. Most of the characters from the original series seem to be present, but they’re not entirely how you remember them.
The biggest change was shown in their first trailer, revealing Babs and Buster are now twins! Controversial is putting this mildly, as the internet exploded over this discovery. In the ‘90s, the joke between Buster and Babs from episode one was how they weren’t related. In Looniversity, they’re twins forced to adapt to life apart from each other for the first time in their lives. They’ve never lived apart before, and at their new school, they’re separated by dorms.
Buster shares his room with Plucky Duck, who somehow manages to be more self-absorbed than his previous incarnation, and shy and very Southern-sounding Hamton. The relationship between Buster and Plucky is more like Best Frenemies, making it more antagonistic between the pair. Hamton, meanwhile, aspires to be a doctor instead of a funny toon, but he’s given little choice by his overbearing and oblivious mother, famous comedienne Joan Swhinefeld (voiced by Laraine Newman).
Babs shares her living space with Sweety Bird, previously a tertiary character with sporadic appearances. Here, she’s upgraded to a main cast member, augmenting her big personality into a leather jacket-clad rocker.
Many recognizable classmates return for the reboot but are often relegated to background gags. The show is focused on the five main toons, leaving sparse room to explore the others.
A top-tier education from Warner classics like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and others is still offered at their academy, but Acme Looniversity itself has changed from a middle school into a full-fledged college. Granny oversees the operation as the tough but fair Dean, enjoying outings with her motorcycle gang in between smashing her reps on the bench press.
Almost none of the original voice actors return to reprise their roles, but this new group does an excellent job of keeping their spirit while adding their personality to the new versions of the characters. Cree Summer is the only classmate to feature their original voice as Elmyra. However, the ‘90s voice of Sweetie Bird (yes, they’re spelled differently now), Candi Milo, has permanently taken over Granny duties, and does a remarkable job with her.
What’s missing from Tiny Toons Looniversity?
After watching a few screeners provided to the press by Max, I was confounded. I enjoyed what I watched, and frankly, kids will too! But there’s one thing missing from the character of Babs. She doesn’t do impersonations! It was an odd light bulb to go off, but that’s what set off the cascade effect of realizing what was missing.
The new Babs is a neat freak, a twin, and loves her best friend’s roomie, and while she’s still funny, it wasn’t in the same way the Babs of the ‘90s was funny. There’s always room for change, but it felt like this version of the pink rabbit was so squeaky clean. In this way, Looniversity is a true reboot, where the personalities from the ‘90s toons are there, but mostly pushed aside to make space for this updated iteration. The new personalities didn’t feel like drastic changes at first, but the more I watched, the more I understood this wasn’t the show I grew up with.
Gone were the rampant pop-culture references, along with a hint of any sneaky adult innuendo (which were infrequent at best in Tiny Toons, but still popped up from time to time). This reboot was much more vanilla in that way, and that in itself isn’t a negative. What it does with its new format is fine, but viewers will have to change their expectations and realize this isn’t the same Acme Acres from 30 years ago.
Will kids like Tiny Toons Looniversity?
This new reboot is extremely kid-friendly, but so was the original. Tiny Toons always taught life lessons at the end of most episodes, and this modern version does, too. The silly cartoon gags remain, keeping it in the same vein as the classic with how those different elements joined together to make for engaging content. Looniversity isn’t an evolution, it’s just different and takes some time to get used to. Really, it’s just nice having Tiny Toons back on TV, even if it is different from what our generation grew up with.
Buster and Babs now face college problems, but presented for a TV-Y7 audience. Even then, this isn’t Saved by the Bell: The College Years and these toons won’t be dealing with the same real-world dilemmas that show confronted, or even some of the more serious topics the original Tiny Toons did. Personal growth is emphasized over in-your-face moral plays of the ‘90s, creating sitcom scenarios for the toons to learn about each other, how to interact with those around them, and be genuinely good folks – animated or otherwise.
Looniversity offers a lot of laughs to kids, with fast-paced jokes in silly situations that resemble dilemmas of actual people, but feel more like a child-appropriate version of Friends. Light on lessons and heavy on fun, there’s a strong chance these toons will make it to Graduation Day. Is this show for parents who remember the old show? Kids who like jokes about college? Right now, the answer is a little bit of both.