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.
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.