Tiny Toons Looniversity Cast on Bringing Back the ’90s Show

There’s a new crop of Looney Tunes in the making at Acme Looniversity led by Babs and Buster Bunny along with friends Hamton, Plucky, and Sweetie—who may look familiar but are getting the reboot treatment in a whole new Tiny Toons show streaming on Max.

Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toons Looniversity reintroduces the classic characters you might remember from the ‘90s Tiny Toon Adventures series. io9 recently caught up with Eric Bauza (Buster Bunny), David Errigo Jr. (Hamton J. Pig and Plucky), Tessa Netting (Sweety), and showrunner Nate Cash to talk about the new show, which takes a different approach to the show you knew. It follows Babs, Buster, and friends as they enter their freshman year at Acme Loo, and friendship hijinks ensue as they learn from their iconic Looney Tunes mentors (played by legendary voice actors and Tiny Toon alumni Jeff Bergman, Candi Milo, Bob Bergen, and Cree Summer).

Sabina Graves, io9: Growing up watching the show, I have distinct core memories of Baby Plucky skits like “Elelator go up, Elelator go down” or “Water go down the hooole” I definitely annoyed my parents with that. To start off, I want to know, what are your core memories from Tiny Toon Adventures?

David Errigo Jr.: Yeah, for sure! Mine wasn’t “water go down the hooole,” it was “ball go down the hooole”—it was the putt-putt one. And I cannot tell you the amount of times that my sister and I watched How I Spent My Vacation, we had that VHS. We broke it, like we just killed that thing. And I don’t know if you know this, but recently I discovered it is not Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation, it is just: How I Spent My Vacation. It’s a full Mandela effect.

Eric Bauza: I always sing the the Weenie Burgers theme song in my head: “Weenie Burgers. They’re so much fun to eat. If you look real close, you can even find some meat.” Yeah, they used to have some weird gags on that show. It’s sketch gag driven, definitely in contrast to our show, which is, I think, obviously a great chance for a deeper dive into these characters, developing the characters [while] still giving some nods to the original. I do remember so many! I mean, it was one of the reasons why I would race home after school, to watch Tiny Toons on TV.

Tessa Netting: Yeah, I have a core memory. Saturday morning cartoons, me and my sister hearing the Tiny Toons theme song and just running around our living room. It just got us so hype, I don’t know what it was—and then we would just be watching the gags and then telling them to each other, or the songs, singing them to each other. It was so much fun. And I just hope that this next generation just gets to have so much fun with these characters, like I got to have. So that’s all I want. I want them to love these characters as much as I do.

io9: Nate and Eric, can we talk a bit about the new take on Buster and Babs? Here they do have a relationship as siblings, which is different from the original show. What can fans expect from the new dynamic?

Nate Cash: I know that [showrunner] Erin Gibson wanted to explore a less contentious relationship [and] to have two characters who have each other’s back. In the original show, they were kind of like flirty potential romantic partners and I think she early on didn’t want to explore that aspect of cartoons flirting with each other.

Bauza: It just shows like another way to look at their relationship. I always thought they were possibly related. I could see them as as brother and sister. For me even as an original fan, I was like, “Yeah, you know, I could have seen them either way.” And I like that it just brings another dimension and another way to tell a story with these characters. I like how vulnerable Buster is, only because when you see him without Babs it really has an effect on him. I like how he is not always as cool as a cucumber or the typical leader we kind of remember him as. I like that there’s just more dimension and just more to explore in that sense—that he’s not always in control and that he needs his friends and he needs his sister to feel to feel whole.

io9: Totally! I love how in the episodes each character seeks their mentors out, particularly Buster looking up to Bugs Bunny. Did that feel in any way meta to you? You know, as someone who’s got to be all these characters? Same for Tessa and Eric, was it wild to step into these Tooney shoes?

Bauza: I’m so lucky. I don’t even question it anymore. I do work with with Jeff [Bergman] all the time. And as we know, Jeff is the first person to take on Bugs Bunny after Mel Blanc passed in ‘89. And even as a kid, even though I knew it wasn’t Mel, I always admired how talented Jeff was. And to know that it was him and Bob [Bergen], people like Candi Milo and Billy West—all the people that have kept these Looney Tunes characters alive for the 40 years after Mel Blanc passed away, to make these characters 80 years old. I have so much appreciation and I’m thankful for them to keep these characters alive enough long enough for me to join the table and for Tessa to join the table. You know, it’s crazy to actually feel like it’s life imitating art imitating life that we get to work with these mentors of ours, that are actually the mentors on the show. When I heard that both Bob and Jeff were returning to those roles in this show, it’s just kind of poetic for them because [Tiny Toon Adventures] was pretty much like the first time they had done these characters professionally after the passing of Mel Blanc. So I’m so happy and excited to see and hear them as these respected characters that they’ve been known for for so long.

Netting: Oh, my gosh. Well, Candy is my bird hero, and I just want to do her honor, do her justice because she is so incredible that she can just voice so many iconic characters. I just bow down to her and this is just such a cool thing, because this is my first cartoon I’ve ever done ever in my whole life. And Sweetie is learning to be a cartoon at university, and I am learning how to be a cartoon from these iconic voice actors. So it’s again, very meta, very crazy, but such an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is a dream.

Errigo: Funny enough, my inspiration was was definitely the originals. And I say funny because I didn’t go back and listen to them before I did the audition. What I remember the characters sounding like, that’s what I auditioned with. My memory is clearly jacked up because I sound nothing like Don Messick or Joe Alaskey or what I remembered of them, I think they gave a sort of core to who they are on the inside. And then coming back with a sound and leaning into that was just so much fun. And, you know, we gave Hampton just a little bit of a Southern sweetness and things and he’s just a lovely guy. And then, of course, with Plucky, he just loves himself so much in the best ways. The difference between that Plucky which I remember had that forward lisp, and my Plucky has more of that lateral lisp.

io9:  You know, in the original, it definitely felt more like a skit-driven show. What informed the decision to make this era more episodic, with overarching themes?

Cash: I think the idea was to focus on the characters more and to do it like a sitcom set-up—like in the original show, the premise in the main title sequence is that they’re going to Acme Looniversity to earn their toon degree. And episodes didn’t really center around that too much. I think leaning into that, we get like a full A and a B arc of these characters, [which] sounded like a fun direction to go.

Tiny Toons Looniversity streams in its entirety on Max September 8; on September 9 it will also premiere on Cartoon Network, with new episodes debuting every week.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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