Sunday, May 17, 2020

Fields of Honey

Tiny Toon Adventures was an animated series that aired in syndication and on Fox Kids from 1990 to 1992. The premise was simple, these were the stories from the new stars of Warner Bros. cartoons and they were learning from the old guard at good ol' Acme Looniversity. This episode deals with Babs learning about early cartoon star Honey.

It's mentor day at Acme Looniversity. Everybody is excited to be working with their Golden Age Warner Bros. counterparts--Buster with Bugs, Plucky with Daffy, Elmyra with Elmer Fudd, Calamity Coyote with Wile E. Coyote but Babs is placed in study hall because there are no female Warner Bros. stars.

In order to settle an argument over who is better--Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck--Buster, Plucky, and Babs go down to the film vault to watch their old cartoons. I don't know how that would solve anything. I would just become more entrenched in my opinion because both are good.
Buster and Plucky arguing. Babs is not amused.
In the film vault, the mysterious vaultkeeper gives Buster and Plucky some Bugs and Daffy cartoons and asks what's wrong with Babs. She says it's because there are no girl cartoon stars. The vaultkeeper apologizes and then goes on his lunch break, asking Babs to watch things for him. A mysterious voice whispers out to Babs: "If you watch them, you will find her." Why the voice can't say who Babs should be looking for isn't clear but Babs spends the next several months watching old Warner Bros. cartoons. She finally finds the cartoon "Bosko In Person" from 1933. She plays it and discovers Honey, a female cartoon who does voices and impersonations just like Babs. Babs then wants to find her but the vaultkeeper reveals that no one has seen Honey in over 50 years. Babs is still determined to find her.
Honey and Bosko
Babs goes to the library to do some research on Honey. Honey was Warner Bros' first female cartoon star. Her and Bosko were on top until the creation of Porky Pig. Bosko and Honey continued to perform on stage but their old fashioned style and lack of color made them unpopular. Bosko continued to perform solo but a planned reunion with Honey on The Ed Sullivan Show was canceled when Honey was nowhere to be found. Bosko tried to find Honey until he also faded away into obscurity.

Babs tries to find Honey but has no idea where to start. The mysterious voice says that "If you build it, they will watch" meaning to build a theater to show Honey cartoons. Turns out laughter keeps a toon young, when the laughter stops, a toon grows old and forgotten. Babs tries to get some money by extorting Montana Max. Her ploy to sell Bunny Scout Carrots and help orphans doesn't work but a plan to send everybody without money to the moon does.
Sending poor people to the moon? Now that's a good idea.
The opening of the theater doesn't do well so the mysterious voice says Babs should advertise. Babs then advertises on television parodying Pee-Wee's Playhouse ("The secret word is 'honey'"), soap operas, and the Super Bowl. After hypnotizing the populace, the theater is full of people to watch Honey on the big screen once again.
Who would've thought a theater dedicated to one obscure cartoon
character from the 1930s would do so poorly?
I think this old lady is going to become important later.
The cartoons are big hit, people are literally falling out of their seats and balcony over these cartoons. Meanwhile, the little old lady from the previous picture starts to change and it's revealed that she's really Honey. After the show, Babs thanks Honey and wonders where the mysterious voice came from. Turns out the voice was really the mysterious vaultkeeper who was really Bosko all along. Nice of Acme Looniversity to give their first star a job. It's the least they could do, I guess.
Babs and Honey, together at last!
Honey and Bosko reunited!
With Honey and Bosco reunited, they dance off into the horizon.

***
Bosko and Honey were real cartoon characters from Warner Bros. Bosko was created by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising in 1927 when they were still working at Disney. They copyrighted the character and planned on starting a sound series with Bosko. After leaving Disney, they worked at Universal for a year before starting work on Bosko's first film, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid. It was unique in that it focused on dialogue and not music like other short animated subjects of the time. Harman and Ising shopped the film around to numerous studios and Leon Schlesinger offered them a contract with Warner Bros.
Bosko and Honey's first cartoon was "Sinkin' In the Bathtub" in 1930. Bosco and Honey were originally considered to be two black children though that seemed to be later dropped or forgotten. Their adventures were not considered racist as they were treated in the same plot style as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Racist stereotypes were avoided and Bosko's race was never pointed out or even considered a part of the story. However, a scene in the 1930 "Congo Jazz" shows Bosko, a chimpanzee, and a gorilla with the same facial features. Despite the lack of overt racism, Bosko and Honey were still black children in almost-exaggerated black face and somewhat monkey features.
Bosko and Honey, 1930
Bosko and Honey's last cartoon was "Bosko's Picture Show" in 1933. Harman and Ising left Warner Bros. and, since they owned the rights, took Bosko with them to MGM for several ill-received shorts. Bosko's last film appearance was 1938's "Little Ol' Bosko in Bagdad." At Warner Bros., Buddy became their biggest star until 1935 when Porky Pig debuted. For Tiny Toons, Bosko and Honey were made more ambiguous, looking very similar to how Yakko, Wakko, and Dot would look in Animaniacs. Honey was voiced by B.J. Ward and Bosko was voiced by Don Messick.

The plot of this episode was based on the 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams which Babs references in the cartoon.

The animation in this episode is done by Kennedy Animation, an outfit from Canada that also did animation for Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, Bonkers, and Aladdin, among others. Warner Bros. was reportedly unhappy with the work Kennedy was producing and was dropped after the first season. The animation style seems very off-model and the characters move around too much. The founder, Glen Kennedy, worked for Hanna-Barbara in the 1980s. His style can be seen prominently in the series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.


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