Sometimes you stumble onto a great case. Sometimes the great ones are thrust upon you. But most of the time the lousy ones slink their way under your feet like a pitbull that just lost its last fight. Take for instance the case of Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries: The Complete First Season. How did this happen?
This was one of those cases with way too many questions (mostly “Why??”) and not nearly enough answers or even clues. Before hittin’ the brick and doing all the heavy leg work I need to take a look at the questions I could answer- like “Who?” THE SUBJECT:
Pussycat, Sr., Sylvester J.–
The name "Sylvester" is a play on silvestris, the scientific name for the domestic cat species. The character debuted in Friz Freleng's Life With Feathers in 1945. Sylvester is a tuxedo cat who shows much pride in himself, and never gives up. Despite (or perhaps because of) his pride and persistence, Sylvester was, with rare exceptions, placed squarely on the "loser" side of the Looney Tunes winner/loser hierarchy.
Damn Wikipedia! I was already a big fan of this here cat, so that information wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. Nowhere did it discuss how Sylvester was one of the more sympathetic of the predator/ villain cartoon characters. At times he had all the mannerism modern man and others, those of a true house cat- wanting only to sleep all day on the sun-warmed portion of the carpet until a mouse or bird tripped his hunter’s instinct.
Enter the bird…
The name "Tweety" is a play on words, as it originally meant "Sweetie", along with "tweet" being a typical English onomatopoeia for the sounds of birds. Tweety is, for the most part, a good-natured character happily spending life in his cage or a nest. However, when a cat or other adversary threatens him, he can become downright malicious and devious, even kicking his enemy when he's down. In many of Tweety's appearances the bird is shown accompanying his owner, Granny.
If there was one thing that made Sylvester so sympathetic it was that his nemesis- the so called “good guy”- was more annoying than him. A cloying, master a misdirection who could frame you for a crime as easily as a tailor measures out a 2-piece suit. The offensive lineman that draws you offsides. The cute little brother who always makes sure YOU take the rap.
Still, the cat was nobody’s FAVORITE character. Even as much as I admired him he wasn’t mine either. So how did this happen that these two got their own cartoon series?
I had to dig back to the gay 90’s when a moving picture director named Steven Spielberg was rescuing the TV animation industry from the ‘dark ages; by resurrecting the Warner Bros. stable of characters. Through the popularity of his shows Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and others, the old veterans were back in the spotlight.
Considering that almost ALL the other Warner Bros. players were infinitely popular- Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig…even Speedy Gonzales. How did the decision happen that Sylvester and Tweety were to be the ONLY ones who got their own cartoon series?
Emmy-nominated animated television series which aired from 1995 to 2001 on Kids' WB and was later re-run on Cartoon Network. It follows Looney Tunes characters Sylvester and Tweety Bird, and their owner Granny, along with bulldog Hector (who appeared in two 1952 cartoons alongside Tweety, Sylvester and Granny but was in the series given a new design similar to that of Marc Antony), as they solved mysteries, even with Sylvester still trying to eat Tweety in the middle of solving the mysteries, but Hector acted as a bodyguard for Tweety, and would even beat Sylvester up (usually out of shot, but sometimes behind a blind). The first season was dedicated to the memory of Friz Freleng, who had just died in 1995. Also, it contents only single episodes, in contrast to the other seasons, which are all with two cases.
From 1995 to 2000?? How did it happen that the Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries cartoon series ran for five years???
What I remembered from the show was that it was…not that bad…inasmuchas, it could’ve sucked a whole lot worse. I was somewhat impressed by how well the animators stuck to the orginal style of creator Friz Freleng and the writing was…well, like I said, it didn’t suck.
Still, to be a series that made it to five years? I realized there was no way around it. If I was gonna crack this mystery I would have to pop in the disk and watch it.
Initially I assumed watching one episode would tell me all. In the first cartoon on the disk, “The Cat Who Knew Too Much”, we find Sylvester, Tweety, Granny and Hector in New Orleans for a contest. Granny is courted by a “Mr. Louis C. Anna” who takes her out for a night at Mardi Gras. She comes back wearing strings of beads, which she hands over to Tweety saying, “You don’t know what I had to do to get these.”
Wait. WHAT??! We’ve all seen “Girls Gone Wild”.Did she just slide in a joke referring to…
Okay, the DVD suddenly had my attention. If there were going to be more “Easter egg” jokes like that I was gonna have to watch the whole disk and pay attention.
At least that was the thought. Turns out it pretty much peaks right there. What followed were twenty-three other cartoons that weren’t terrible but utterly forgettable. The biggest problem is that by not following the original Warner Bros. cartoons’ formula of a six minute running time, each episode of the Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries is too long by half. There’s just not enough good, original material to carry them through.
How is it that the Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries lasted five years, while the much better Duck Dodger’s in the 24th ½ Century barely made it to two? I’d hoped the DVD extras might be my last chance at a clue. No dice!
Just trailers for other semi-related DVDs. Nothing more.
In the end I found no answers to any of my questions. This DVD collection had been born for no reasons I could discern then abandoned like a fetus on prom night.