Last week I pointed to the new Woody Woodpecker shorts for YouTube Universal made for the official Woody channel. Since this is December and Saturday Night Showcase is devoted to Christmas specials this month, I’m going to be posting the new show playlist here.
Directed by Alex Zamm (who also wrote or co-wrote a few of the shorts), the new series features Woody, his girlfriend Winnie, the twins Splinter and Knothead, and Woody’s usual foils Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzards. No Gabby Gator or Mrs. Meany sadly, but fellow Lantz characters Chilly Willy and Andy Panda (Woody debuting in an old Andy Panda short back when it was about young Andy and his dad) have been added to the official cast and adventures in the forest. So how does it stack up to the rest of the franchise?
I need to get this off of my chest right now. I do NOT like the idea that Chilly is trying to steal Winnie from Woody. His food, yes. His girl, that’s kind of out of character for the little guy. Please stop doing this in future shorts. We’re supposed to like Chilly but making him another Woody foil is not necessary. Heck, the first short didn’t even use the regular cast and if you really need more recurring baddies I already listed two you’ve forgotten.
Overall though I actually found the shorts rather enjoyable. I even laughed at some of them and I don’t laugh easy. My favorite was “The Pen Is Flightier Than The Sword” (and based on the previous paragraph, if you watched the shorts you already know my least favorite). Sure, it borrows an idea from Looney Tunes, just with a digital pen, but the twist at the end worked and the two shorts they “borrowed” from are two of my favorites. The series does make the mistake of borrowing too much from Looney Tunes on occasion, when the character had evolved past that, but they made it work well enough that it’s not a huge issue with me, and they did make stories closer to the later classic cartoons at times. They seem to borrow from as many points in Woody’s evolution as they could so whatever your poison they’re potentially serving it with a modern style.
We also get some new characters. Now Wally and Buzz have love interests as well. We have a two-headed alien that could make for an interesting new foil if not overused. Once a “season” (or whatever streaming calls them) would suffice. I’d also like to see Luis the monkey make the occasional return. As long as HE stops trying to steal Winnie. Seriously, when did Winnie become Olive Oil?
Woody himself, like the stories, is a mixture of different takes over the years, which actually makes it a fresh take. While he’s not the same kind of scammer he was in his earliest appearances, he’s still a bit screwy but he deals with baddies like his first TV take. He’s a bit immature but does try to do his best for Winnie and the twins, and he’s not a total jerk most of the time. I think it works.
As of this writing only 10 episodes were released for your binging but they’re short, about five or six minutes. The official YouTube channel also has the classic shorts if you want to watch those. See, modern entertainment industry, you CAN reboot a classic show with a modern take but pay proper respect to the original. TRY IT MORE OFTEN!