New Blu-ray box, HBO Max's Looney library celebrate Bugs Bunny's 80th anniversary
Do you know the name of the first Bugs Bunny cartoon, or the year it premiered? Do you remember the last time you saw a vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon on television? Or the last time you saw Bugs Bunny when he wasn't a teenager in a furry suit waving to your kids at Six Flags Great America?
The Looney Tunes were omnipresent when I was growing up in the '80s, whether on television or playing on the family's Betamax copies of "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie" and "1001 Rabbit Tales." But in the three decades that followed, the cartoons associated with that other character with the prominent ears kept getting grander and more acclaimed, even winning Oscars, while Bugs and pals seem to have faded far into the background. (Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that every Looney Tune seems to be about the characters trying to murder each other, who is to say?)
But the confluence of Bugs Bunny's 80th anniversary and the arrival of HBO Max should put the creations of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc back in the spotlight.
Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection
The answers to my first two questions above are "A Wild Hare," released in 1940, and this first meeting between Bugs and hapless hunter Elmer Fudd is one of 60 remastered Looney Tunes shorts that will be available Dec. 1 in a Blu-ray boxed set from Warner Bros. In addition to a pristine, period-accurate presentation, you get a new documentary and a glittery Bugs Bunny Funko POP figure. Retail price: $74.98.
But if you have an HBO subscription, you also have access to the HBO Max app's library of Looney Tunes shorts across multiple eras, including 10 new installments that debuted earlier this year on the platform.
Some of the Bugs cartoons included with the Blu-ray set are on HBO Max, including the dynamic musical duo of "What's Opera, Doc?" ("Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!") and "The Rabbit of Seville."
The Blu-ray set has a lot of Bugs Bunny cartoons that HBO Max does not, perhaps helping to justify that $75 price tag. But if you, like me, prefer your Looney Tunes to also be Daffy, then HBO Max has you covered -- might I suggest starting with 1943's "Yankee Doodle Daffy," in which the hyperactive duck bombards a talent agent (Porky Pig) with hilarious pitches?
• Sean Stangland is an assistant news editor who is laughing just thinking about Wile E. Coyote taking those earthquake pills.