This blog post has been chilling in draft mode for 2 years or so. Never finished it (that’s why it was labeled ‘Draft’). Well, let’s knock it out…
Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales
Originally Aired: November 27, 1979 on CBS
Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales was one of my favorite holiday specials growing up. Though it debuted in ’79, I remember it was aired on a fairly annual basis throughout the 1980s and I had a VHS copy that was taped for TV. Unfortunately, this special hasn’t received a solo release on Region 1 DVD but it is a special feature on the Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 5 DVD set. Or you can find it on YouTube or Daily Motion, if you know what to look for.
The “too hot for Region 1” DVD
Enjoy this bumper from 1987 (plus a bonus bumper!):
This is CBS promo from 1987 for the beloved Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales and Santabear’s High-Flying Adventure (which was premiering that year).
I can’t recall ever hearing of Santabear but after a quick look at it on YouTube, that’s probably for good reason because it’s very offbeat and has lots of awkward silence. There’s not much in the way of background music. But, when you’ve cast John Malkovich as your Santa Claus, you’re probably going for offbeat & awkward in the first place. I mean, seriously, why was this guy at one point considered a great actor? He’s awful and/or hammy in every performance I’ve ever seen.
Still, had my dad deemed it worthy of being recorded, I have to admit I probably would have grown up loving it. I’m not sure if it’s ever seen a video release or aired any time after 1987.
Oh, and yes, there were be a review of Looney Christmas Tales coming later this month so that’s why I’m not saying much about it.
Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet (1978)
Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet is a 24 minute holiday special that aired November 15, 1978 on CBS. Like many of the Looney Tunes television specials, it’s a clip show that features excerpts of these Looney Tunes shorts: “Rabbit Every Monday” (1951), “Stop! Look! and Hasten!” (1954), “Guided Muscle” (1955), “Beep, Beep” (1952), “Tweet Dreams” (1959), “Trip for Tat” (1960), “Birds Anonymous” (1957), “Canned Feud” (1951) and “Bedeviled Rabbit” (1956) with some new animation to interspersed throughout to tie it all together. In the original animated portions that set up the clips, Bugs plays a doctor (a food psychiatrist apparently) who takes on such patients as Porky Pig, the overweight Millicent (female rabbit that originally appeared in 1957’s “Rabbit Romeo” short), Sylvester the Cat and Honey Bunny.
I know there have been complaints over the years about Warner Bros. taking the low-budget approach to these specials from the ’70s and ’80s by re-using old footage but given how they are introduced during these shows and the fact that I was a kid when I first saw them, I have no problem with them. I think Warner did a good job with these kind of shows where basically the old shorts are almost always presented as flashbacks. There is always a story being told with the new animation as these specials open and close with new material while using the new animation to also introduce each short.
Sitting here now watching this again I’m having a blast with “Rabbit Every Monday” (Yosemite Sam tries to roast Bugs in a wood stove), “Canned Feud” (Sylvester is locked in a house and needs a can opener to open up all the cans of tuna but a mean-spirited mouse has it) and “Bedeviled Rabbit” (Bugs in drag vs. Taz). Those two shorts were always my favorite from the bunch.
While a number of Looney Tunes TV specials have made it onto DVD either as bonus features for the Looney Tunes Golden Collection or as stand-alone releases, Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet has not yet seen the light of day. Warner Bros. seems to take great care of their Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies shorts so I’m sure it’ll pop up either in the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection (Golden Collection’s Blu-ray successor) or a Looney Tunes Super Stars (a less prestigious DVD-only line) set. The only reason I say this so optimistically is because Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales has been on DVD since 2007! I’ve wanted that special for YEARS and somehow completed missed that it’s already been available.
VHS Cover Art
While some purists may scoff at these cartoons being altered and edited down into a 24 minute Thanksgiving special, I grew up with this show and had it recorded VHS copy when I was a kid. This show was right up there with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in my house. I loved it then and I love it now.
Okay, so I’ve talked about cartoons I want on DVD (Part 1 and Part 2), now it’s time to get down to business with Christmas specials that still need a DVD release. It seems like every year this list keeps getting smaller, if only by one or two releases, but I’ll take what I can get when I can get it.
The 2008 holiday season gave us the long-waited Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy and as for this year — Warner Bros. is finally giving us the not-so-famous 1985 Rankin-Bass special The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus which was based on the children’s book by L. Frank Baum. Granted, it is only available through their Warner Archive online store (as part of a 2-in-1 DVD along with Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey) because the DVDs are made to order, but this is still progress so I can scratch that one off my list this year.
Now let’s take a look at what’s left before I can truly have a complete Christmas DVD collection…
A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
I never see this one getting much mention from nostalgic sites but I really loved this made-for-TV movie. That’s really strange coming from me because I hated The Brady Brunch. I guess the theme of Christmas is too good for even the Bradys to ruin it. My family used to have this recorded on VHS when I was a little and I would always watch it around Christmastime. ABC Family is airing it this year, it’s well worth seeking out if you like hokey made-for-TV Christmas movies.
Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper (1982)
Hands down one of my favorite Christmas specials EVER. This was another special we had on tape and I played it and played it and played it forever, even when it wasn’t Christmas. I’m hopeful Warner will release this one next year because the first Yogi Christmas special (the approriately-titled) Yogi’s First Christmas just became available last month on DVD directly through Warner Archive. Surely they’re aiming for a complete Yogi Christmas experience!
I swear, McDonald’s Happy Meals put out some of the greatest toys known to mankind. Perhaps a full article is warranted on the subject…
Anyway, it’s rather unfortunate that I did not collect all 4. I only had Wonder Pig (Petunia Pig) and Batduck (Daffy Duck). I still have Wonder Pig and her snap-on costume!