In the late 1980s, Tom Ruegger had the idea of introducing younger versions of the Looney Tunes gang and having them try to become the next generation of Looney Tunes stars. A couple of years later, Stephen Spielberg (pre-Dreamworks) decided to get on board the project and suddenly Tiny Toon Adventures was a “go” at Fox Television, debuting with an hour-long special and then a syndicated cartoon series (followed by one season just on Fox Kids) in the 1990s.
The show stars Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation to Bugs or each other) as students at the Acme Looniversity, along with a host of other younger versions of characters like Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Pepe Le Pew and more! Just like their idols, though, the Tiny Toons would often do their best to push the envelope when it came to appropriate behavior. At least once, they ended up going too far and had a bunch of their content get pulled from TV for decades! Sometimes it was for good reason, other times it was for more ridiculous ones. Check out 15 times the Tiny Toons snuck things by the censors and once that they got caught (after the episode aired).
16. BUSTING LOOSE
The very first episode of Tiny Toons was spent introducing us to the main characters in the series, with the animators creating Buster Bunny right in front of our eyes. Buster asks for a best friend to go along on adventures with and they shock him by giving him a female best friend, Babs Bunny!
However, any points they get for actually having a female co-lead in the series were lost a bit when they quickly introduced something that would be recurring throughout the series, which was their strange treatment of Babs’ sexuality. She has the ability to transform herself (just like Bugs Bunny), but her second form ever was as Dolly Parton, with buttons bursting off her expanded chest! She’s barely a teenager, people!
15. JIGGLING WHAT NOW?
A surprisingly popular character in the series was the show’s equivalent to Pepe Le Pew, Fifi La Fume, a skunk who exhibits most of the same characteristics as Pepe Le Pew, namely that she is overly aggressive in her attempts to woo people that interest her. Naturally, though, it has a different feel to it when it is coming from a young woman than an older man.
In an early episode, the show took advantage of her thick accent to hide a risqué line by having her refer to her “jiggling gigolo.” Only closed captioning could capture precisely what she was saying in the episode, so this was a sneaky way to work in a line of dialogue that would normally be a bit over the line for a kids show.
14. DODGING THE CENSORS
In “The Acme Acres Zone,” Hamton and Plucky sneak on to Montana Max’s property to go swimming in his pool. Plucky, naturally, has Hamton go first to see if he gets into trouble. Hamton decides to strip down to go skinny dipping in the pool and Plucky disturbingly treats Hamton as if he is is a stripper, shouting at him to take it all off!
Hamton then has a “Censored” bar to protect himself. However, Tiny Toons was a show that would play with conventions, so the “Censored” bar hilariously stays in place when Hamton jumps on the diving board, so for a few months, the “Censored” bar is no longer covering Hamton’s private parts! Luckily, it doesn’t appear as though anything was ever visible. Still a racy joke!
13. HAMTON’S READING MATERIAL
An even racier Hamton-related joke occurred in Hamton’s spotlight episode, “Here’s Hamton,” where he tries to cook a lobster but finds that the lobster has other plans for their evening! In another funny play on cartoon conventions, the first time that the lobster tricks Hamton into hurting himself instead of the lobster, the lobster turns to the audience and says, “This is going to involve a lot of stuff like that.”
However, at one point, when the lobster accidentally enters a stove, thinking it is an exit, we can see some books on Hamton’s table and one of them clearly says… well, it rhymes with “horn” and is suggested for mature readers. Although, it wasn’t written so clearly that it would jump out at you if you weren’t looking for it. That’s the sort of thing that you could get by a censor even if they looked right at it!
12. WHEN IN FRANCE…
In another example of sort of hiding something in plain sight, the episode “Europe in 30 Minutes” saw the Tiny Toons head to Europe after Plucky won a free trip. However, their tour guide is initially trying to squeeze all of the sights in at high speeds. Plucky objects to the fact that he has been unable to take any snapshots and so the driver instead offers him some postcards featuring scantily-clad ducks. Plucky agrees to buy them.
Later, they drive through the famous Louvre museum, and in one of the shots of the famous works of art, the camera pans through quickly and when you freeze at the right moment, you can see that there is a famous statue featuring a topless woman: the Venus De Milo. It’s technically culture and not anything to be ashamed of, but it’s still an interesting case of hiding something in plain sight!
11. VERY FRIENDLY CLASSMATES
While most Tiny Toons episodes had multiple short stories contained in a single episode, in “The Acme Bowl,” the entire thing deals with the hapless Acme University football team, who has seemingly found a winning formula after Buster (their quarterback) comes up with a miraculous playbook. Acme’s rivals, the snobby rich kid’s school, Perfecto Prep, is worried about the upcoming game against Acme.
They convince Plucky to give them a copy of the playbook in exchange for enrolling him at Perfecto. They also effectively trade him the services of Margot Mallard, in a disturbing sequence showing how far they’ll go to woo Plucky (they never planned on really letting him into their school, but in the end, it turns out Plucky never betrayed his team, so it all evened out).
10. ENTERING THE TYSON ZONE
In some of these instances, the show has effectively “snuck” something by the censors, especially Hamton’s reading materials in the lobster scene. That seemed specifically designed to get by without being noticed by anyone. In other times, the issue is that censors are called “Standards and Practices” for a reason, and that is the fact that standards change over time.
Something that could be acceptable in 1992 might not be acceptable in 2018. A great example is a Sweetie Pie gag where Sweetie Pie is hit by a book titled The Mike Tyson Story. She notes, “Now I know how Robin Givens feels.” Yes, they did, in fact, do a joke about Mike Tyson assaulting his then-wife, actress Robin Givens (which ultimately led to their divorce). Yikes.
9. WHAT’S UP, INDEED
Elmyra Duff is the show’s equivalent of Elmer Fudd. However, while Elmer hunts animals to kill them, Elmyra hunts them so that she can take them in and make them her pets. However, she is so over-the-top with her “care” that often the animals would prefer to be dealing with someone who is trying to actively kill them, instead of killing them with kindness.
Elmyra is so into helping people that she even serves as the nurse at Acme University (despite being a student there, as well). However, in the title card for the story, “What Up, Nurse?” you can see that her nursing care is overly aggressive, as well. She plans on taking Plucky’s temperature in the least pleasant way for him possible.
8. GLOBAL OUTREACH
In “Maid to Re-order,” Buster and Babs decided to teach Montana Max a lesson when he fires his butler, Grovely, and therefore kicks him and his family out of Montana’s mansion. Buster is forced to be noble and he takes in the Grovelys, but he and Babs soon work to fix things with Max.
They impersonate maids to get into Montana Max’s mansion and make such a mess that Max would be forced to bring Grovely back. At one point, they disguise themselves as Swedish housekeepers. Naturally, Babs’ outfit involves her wearing a corset that leads to her exposing a great deal of skin at the top of her outfit (while also having a great deal of cleavage). Buster cannot help but staring even while he is in his disguise. Again, she’s a young woman, people!!
7. MAKING THE MOST OF HER APPEARANCE
You would be surprised sometimes at which characters end up sticking in people’s memories. Although, when it comes to kids cartoon shows, you would probably be in pretty good shape if you guessed that kids would remember scantily clad characters, even when, in the case of Julie Bruin, they appear in only one episode.
Played by Julie Brown, the real life MTV VJ who soon got her own show, Just Say Julie, Julie Bruin was a bear who had a show just like the real life Julie’s. In the episode, the show parodied music videos. She wears very little clothing throughout the video, including her appearance in a Montana Max music video (“Money (That’s What I Want)”) where he creepily checks her out while she is sunbathing.
6. NAUGHTY NAME GAME
At the end of every episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, there are closing credits just like every show. However, on Tiny Toons, there is always one joke credit mixed in. The joke credit almost always ties in with the episode that just aired (often referencing the real life people involved in the show, like noting a good review a writer had received when her next episode aired).
In “Toon TV,” the credit mentions how Plucky Duck was conspicuously absent in the earlier performance of “The Name Game” in the episode. If you know the song, “The Name Game,” then you would know that you repeat names with the beginnings replaced by the letters B, F and M. With Plucky, it would end up with his name being very profane. That same joke was worked into the Tiny Toons soundtrack album.
5. SHE ALWAYS GETS WHAT SHE WANTS
In “Thirteensomething,” Babs and Buster are conflicted over which TV show they should watch. Babs wants to watch thirteensomething, which, despite the name and the fact that its theme song is a riff on the theme from thirtysomething, is really more of a riff on the popularity of Beverly Hills 90210. Buster, however, wants to watch football. Plucky suggests that they flip for it, but Plucky forgot which side his two-sided coin was, so Babs ended up winning.
While they sat down to watch the show, Babs taunted Buster by doing a sultry performance of her saying, “I always get what I want,” including her transforming into a strapless gown and cupping herself. Once again (and the title of the episode even alludes to it), she’s too young for this, people!
4. COVER GIRL
While watching thirteensomething, Buster makes a senseless comment about how Babs could never be on the show herself, at least in part because the show starred humans and she is a toon. She decides to prove herself to Buster by disguising herself as a human and getting hired for the series, Tootsie-style. This, also, looks to be a bit of a parody on how teens on those shows always look much older, as she dresses herself to look a lot older than thirteen when she auditions.
She gets the gig and soon becomes a star, including posing for a war-themed cover of Thyme magazine, in a rather phallic cover display with Babs straddling the tank’s big gun. Eventually, Buster apologizes to her and she reveals the truth to her shocked audience and returns to Acme University with Buster.
3. PARENTS JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND
“Class Without Class” is a fascinating deconstruction of Looney Tunes cartoons, with Bugs Bunny and Taz (the Tasmanian Devil) tell Buster Bunny and Dizzy Devil that they are mortal enemies and they have to act as such if they want to pass Bugs’ class at Acme University. Buster feels that tormenting predator gags are passe and Dizzy doesn’t want to try to eat his friend.
After some pressure, though, they go through with it, with Buster coming up with a gag where he pretends to be a female Tasmanian Devil to get Dizzy to fall in love with him. As he dons his disguise, Buster notes to the audience, “Kids, don’t Try This at Home — your parents might wonder about you.” In the end, Buster and Dizzy put their friendship ahead of their grades and are rewarded for it by Bugs, who is touched by their friendship.
2. HAMTON’S PERSONAL LIFE
As this last has gone on, it seems interesting that we really seem to learn a whole lot more about what Hamton gets into in his private time than you would normally think. We have seen his dirty magazines, we’ve seen him skinny dipping without a “Censored” bar and in “My Brilliant Revenge,” we see the sketchy TV that he likes to watch. He is relaxing at home watching Swine Search, a parody of Star Search.
Just like how Star Search had a modeling competition, so, too, does Swine Search have a modeling competition, with the curvaceous pigs squeezing into bathing suits much too small for their bodies, with the cleavage of one of the pigs being so large that it practically bounces up and down. In a way, Hamton should almost thank Plucky Duck for interrupting his disturbing alone time by playing the bagpipes too loud.
1. WENT TOO FAR: “ONE BEER” TOO MANY
Tiny Toons was not really a show that was known for its moralizing; and in fact, in the episode “Elephant Issues,” it actively mocked the sort of “after school special” approaches that kids cartoon shows sometimes took with their audiences. However, one of its parodies of that moralizing in the episode went so far that the entire episode was banned from syndication for over two decades!
In “One Beer,” Buster decides that it is time to teach kids the dangers of alcohol, so he uses peer pressure to get Plucky and Hamton to get drunk with him. They get drunk and then go driving. They crash and they all die. It’s meant as a parody of over-the-top anti-drinking narratives on TV shows, but some viewers took issue with it and it was pulled from syndication until finally airing again in 2013!
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