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The unlikely perseverance of Bugs Bunny.

The unlikely perseverance of Bugs Bunny. (photo)

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Yesterday, Cartoon Network announced that one of their new shows is a “Looney Tunes” reincarnation — “The Looney Tunes Show,” which will safely relocate all the beloved characters to the suburbs. In the promo still at left, Daffy and Bugs appear to be enjoying Chinese take-out. The passionate animation nerds over at Cartoon Brew are not amused, with writer Amid Amidi sneering that this image “looks worse than your average fan art.” The comments section is, of course, contentious, with conspiracy theories about the original animators being fired and higher-up-interference.

But has any beloved cultural franchise weathered crass commercialization so hardily as “Looney Tunes”? These days, the characters greet visitors to Six Flags theme parks, hock clothing and pretty much anything else that can have a face slapped on it. There was a crappy movie with Michael Jordan, a better one with Brendan Fraser no one saw, and a dearth of new, quality cartoons since the ’60s (the revivals since are middling fare — see “Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas,” featuring the indelible line “Buenas noches, loserinos”). For various reasons detailed in Wikipedia, they don’t get to run rampant over Saturday morning cartoons anymore.

04222010_opera.jpgAnd yet not only have the “Looney Tunes” characters remained widely beloved by generations of kids, untarnished by their exploitation, they haven’t seen any fundamental changes in a good long while — they’re older than “The Simpsons” but have more goodwill left over. Bugs, Daffy and co. have remained more or less the same after their early evolutionary hiccups, and the original cartoons have hardly aged at all. While the work of the Fleischer brothers (Betty Boop) seems more derangedly surreal and adult-oriented with every passing year and the Disney shorts require familiarity with their historical context (or at least a tolerance for anachronism) to really work, the precisely-timed “Tunes” remain as zippy and breathless as they ever were.

The outrage over at Cartoon Brew seems misplaced; like the lousy remakes that come and go, “Looney Tunes” seem as destined for agelessness as anything around. To be sure, there are numerous cartoons not in general circulation because of their dated stereotypes, and early ’30s prototypes not watched by too many these days — but the cartoons that most people associate with the series really do come as close to being undated as possible. The animation has no need to be “improved” or cut faster.

And the series has weathered rougher time, like the ugly late-60s closing period, marred by cheaper animation and bland new characters. For example, here’s Cool Cat — a proud product of the ’60s, with backing lounge music, who calls people “man” with no provocation and fights off “Injuns.” This was the last of the original series of from the Warner Bros. Cartoons studio, and almost no one except for the historians remembers it:

[Photos: “The Looney Tunes Show,” Cartoon Network, 2010; “What’s Opera, Doc?”, Warner Bros., 1957]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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