Was Tiny Toons Written By Kids?
November 15, 2016
(The shortened opening)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic; I remember it so you don't have to. A lot of us grew up with Tiny Toon Adventures.
(Footage of Tiny Toons is shown)
NC (vo): The kids show that mixed child-friendly humor with Looney Tunes-style adult jokes. It started Warner Brothers' hot streak of hit shows and gave us some colorful and memorable episodes.
NC: But did you know that 25 years ago... (looks to his side, as a dramatic sting plays, and speaks softly) to this very day... (looks forward again, normal voice again) actually, this week, but still creepy... there was an episode that was written by kids?
(Footage of the episode in question is shown)
NC (vo): Three thirteen-year-olds, to be precise. Some of you might even remember; it kind of stood out from the other episodes. It was called "Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian", and it began with Buster and Babs actually being told that the episode was being written by three teenage girls: (a shot of the girls, caricatured on the show and holding up a sheet of paper with their names on it, is shown; their names are...) Renee Carter, Sarah Creef and Amy Crosby. The episode seemed... odd, to say the least, but still funny.
NC: But a lot of us were wondering, how much of this was actually true?
NC (vo): Were there really three kids that were allowed to write a script for a popular TV show? Was this just a made-up story, an excuse to get more PR, or some kind of in-joke? Speculation conspiracy swept the Internet, the conspiracy, of course, that the Internet didn't exist yet!
NC: Well, I have with me one of the writers who (makes "finger quotes") "claims" to have written this episode. Live via Skype is Renee Carter! Hello, Renee!
(Cut to a now-grown-up Renee on camera)
Renee: (waving) Hi.
NC: Renee – if that is your real name – explain to us how the process of writing this episode with your friends all took place.
Renee: Well, it... it didn't really start out as a script.
(Cut to an image of a sketch drawing of Buster and Babs in Hawaiian clothes, with Buster providing a word balloon saying "Aloha!" and the phrase "Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian")
Renee (vo): Um, it actually started out as a drawing that I was just kind of doodling at lunch in the cafeteria.
(Cut to another sketch, this one of Babs saying, "We'd like to rent a car, please," with Buster standing behind her)
Renee (vo): One of my friends had actually made a comment about that...
(We now alternate between additional sketches and the corresponding scene in the final cartoon: the rental clerk is, much to Buster and Babs' collective horror, Elmyra Duff, who tries to grab them, but they run off)
Renee (vo): ...which then, you know, sparked the idea for the story. And of course, this was like number-2 pencil on notebook paper. It was about as...
Renee: ...you know, as eighth grade as you're going to get.
NC: Were these "drawings" like literally that, just drawings, or was it like a comic, where they had word bubbles and such?
Renee: Yeah, just kinda drawings with word bubbles. It wasn't anything as organized that I would actually call a comic.
NC: You expect me to believe that you ingeniously did what the original Looney Tunes animators did...
(Cut to a shot of some storyboard sketches of "Baseball Bugs")
NC (vo): ...where, instead of writing a script, they just did a bunch of drawings, like storyboards, and then eventually turned...
NC: ...that into a cartoon?
Renee: Sometimes, you've gotta... know what you're doing, even if you don't know what you're doing. (chuckles)
NC: Don't patronize me, Renee.
Renee: We managed to find an address for the local Fox affiliate...
(Cut to a shot of the Fox Kids logo)
Renee (vo): ...we didn't understand about syndications... typed up a letter to go with it, forgot to sign the letter...
(Cut to a shot of a promo for Fox Kids' TV's Best Toons)
Renee (vo): ...threw everything into an envelope, and mailed it.
(Cut to a montage of clips from the promo involving Tiny Toons)
Renee (vo): We had no idea it was going to be made into an episode, we weren't gunning for that. It was something that we did for fun. It was passed along from one envelope to another, and either we're doing that either out of the goodness of their heart, or didn't know what they were doing and passed it on...
(Cut back to Renee)
Renee: ...and, you know, and it got to the right people.
NC: So, how did they let you know they were gonna make an episode out of your script?
Renee: Well, Warner Bros., or in this case, uh, Jean MacCurdy...
(Cut to more drawings of the episode and corresponding clips of the final product, showing Buster and Babs going to the hotel, where the clerk is Gogo Dodo, and Buster holds up an ACME Express Gold Card with Bugs Bunny's visage on it)
Renee (vo): ...first called and just kinda said, y'know, we got the story and, y'know, we really enjoyed it and just, y'know, want to let you know that. She and, um, Barbara Brogliatti, who was also staff for the show, flew out to my house, and that was when they first told us that we're going to make this actually into an episode...
(Cut back to Renee again)
Renee: ...and, y'know, we want you to be part of the process and that they were going to actually fly us out there...
(Cut to a clip of the airline scene in the episode)
Renee (vo): ...and meet with the writers and meet with Spielberg and...
Renee: ...y'know, have a chance to do all these things.
NC: So, tell me about going to Hollywood and meeting the writers and being Steven Spielberg's new best friend. (crosses his fingers) I'm assuming you two are still like this.
Renee: They really set up a whole itinerary for us.
(Cut to a group shot of the cast of Family Matters)
Renee (vo): Family Matters, we went to a taping of that.
(Cut to a shot of Six Flags Magic Mountain)
Renee (vo): Six Flags, y'know, Magic Mountain, we did all that stuff.
Renee: That all kind of culminated then in meeting with Spielberg.
(Cut to a clip of Tiny Toons featuring caricatures of Spielberg, Renee and the other young writers addressing Buster and Babs)
Renee (vo): We then had the whole story meeting with, as far as I can remember...
(Cut to a group shot of the show's staff writers, all caricatured on the show, with Babs standing in the center of the crowd)
Renee (vo): ...most if all, not all of the staff writers were there...
(Cut to a shot of a crowd of people with cameras, all going off and flashing at various times)
Renee (vo): ...and, uh, approximately ten million camera people following us around the whole time.
Renee: We had a chance then to kind of, y'know, sit and go through the preliminary script that they had sent to us...
(Cut to a clip of Spielberg and Renee and her friends on Tiny Toons)
Renee (vo): ...and threw out ideas and, y'know, we'd go through the whole process.
NC: (sounding excited) Tell me you were woman enough to demand the changes you wanted to the script and you didn't let any (makes "finger quotes") "staff writer" kind enough to let you be there push you around.
Renee: We had input. We had things like, okay, you really need to keep this in...
Renee (vo): ...because, you know, we thought this was really funny, or we're trying to kind of explain where something came from. I just remember just kind of everybody bouncing off of everything else, idea-wise. I just– I remember laughing, like, y'know, just non-stop.
Renee: I just remember a great deal of fun, you know, more than– more than anything else with that whole meeting.
NC: Do you remember any of the writers in particular?
Renee: Let's see... I know Sherri Stoner was there.
(Cut to a group shot of the writers on the show, including Sherri Stoner, with the camera zooming in on her)
Renee (vo): I remember, because, yeah, they were telling us that she was, you know...
(Cut to a shot of Stoner serving as live-action reference for Ariel in The Little Mermaid)
Renee (vo): ...the live-action reference for Ariel in The Little Mermaid...
Renee: ...and that kind of stuck in my mind.
NC: Was it strange seeing yourself as a cartoon character and hearing someone else do your voice?
Renee: Yeah. I mean, there's nothing normal about seeing yourself as a cartoon character.
NC: I dabbled in anime myself. (In the corner, a cameo of the NC and The Nerd from the anime The Unlimited Hyoubu Kyousuke appears)
(Cut to a shot of Renee and her friends caricatured on the show)
Renee (vo): It's kind of like you're seeing a caricature; you always have that moment of, y'know, way of... like that...
(Cut to footage of the episode where Renee (wearing a green sweater) and her friends are depicted in cartoon form)
Renee (vo): ...although, ironically, at that time, I had an outfit exactly like the one that I'm wearing in the cartoon...
Renee: ...and that was a little creepy, because, I mean, I didn't actually wear that at the time.
Renee (vo): We thought at first that maybe we were gonna get a chance to... uh, to do our own voices...
Renee: ...but the logistics of that just didn't work out.
(Cut to a shot of a collage of characters all voiced by Cree Summer)
Renee (vo): I didn't find out until later that it was apparently Cree Summer who was doing my voice, which is pretty awesome.
(Cut to the clip of Renee and her friends in the episode; they are addressing Buster, who has somehow popped up into their room through their phone)
Sarah Creef (Gail Matthius): Appliance Day!
Amy Crosby (Kath Soucie): Now back to work!
NC: Did she [Summer] listen to your voice at all and try to get it down?
Renee: I have no idea.
Renee (vo): At the time, we were sort of half-amused and half-irritated by...
Renee: ...the Southern accents that we were given.
(Cut back to the episode with Renee and her friends addressing Buster, whose contract apparently involves him not doing plane scenes)
Renee (Cree Summer): (in a pronounced Southern accent) Hey, aren't you supposed to be filming our script?
Renee: So I don't know how much...listening they were doing or if they were just kind of like, okay, do a basic 13-year-old girl's voice.
(Cut back to the episode with the caricatured Renee and her friends)
Renee (Summer): That's an actor for you, always messing with the writer's vision.
NC: In the episode, the first third is setting up the concept...
(The episode begins with a title card: "Hamton as 'Fleche de Lard'", followed by clips of that episode)
NC (vo): ...with Hamton getting pushed out of his big episode to make way for your episode and Spielberg's real voice interacting with everyone and such.
NC: Was that always in the original script? Because mad props if you had the proud ego to do that! (grins)
Renee: Um, most of that was added by the other writers...
Renee (vo): ...uh, later in, as kind of the...the actual script was developed.
Renee: What we've sent in was basically just, like, the base story.
(More sketches of the episode are shown, followed by corresponding clips of the final episode)
Renee (vo): Yeah, they were good about... about keeping us in the process. We got copies of the, y'know, the later script and everything, and obviously, they had to pad it out a lot to get, y'know, a full episode out of it.
NC: I, of course, have to ask: what was Spielberg like?
Renee: At the– At the risk of sounding cliched, he was awesome.
NC: Come on, please, don't you have any dirt on him? Nobody does! He's like the world's nicest director!
Renee: You know, there's a reason all the people at the Oscars are thanking him.
(A magazine article on Tiny Toons is shown, featuring the characters crowding and climbing over Spielberg)
Renee (vo): You know, he took us seriously. And, you know, when you're 13, that's... that's a big deal.
NC: So, why do you think he, as well as the other producers, said yes to making the script?
Renee: Well, do you... do you want the... the cynical answer or... (laughs slightly) or the egotistical answer that was brilliant?
NC: Well, like most writers, the egotistically cynical.
Renee: Honestly, it was great PR for them. Um, I mean, we– we knew that, even at the time...
(Cut to a montage of promotional pieces on Tiny Toons)
Renee (vo): ...doing all kinds of interviews, y'know, print interviews... you know, People Magazine, 20/20, it was good for them. I would like to think that...
Renee: ...what they also said at the time was– was true, which was that, this was kind of their way of...
(Footage of Renee's episode on the show is shown)
Renee (vo): ...giving back to the fans of the show. Of course, this was at a time when, you know, they didn't have as close of a relationship potentially with fans and creators that you do now, so...
Renee: ...you know, I think it was a little bit of both.
NC: What are your thoughts of this happening nowadays, especially with social media? You think this is something that never happens or it happens even more?
Renee: I think it is more likely to happen now, um, because of social media...
Renee (vo): ...but, of course, it's different. You know, obviously, you still have, y'know, robust legal departments that keep some things out. But there's just... there's a lot of a dialogue that happens now in both ways and...
Renee: ...for better or for worse, it has pros and cons.
NC: So naturally, I have to ask, are you still writing? (points to camera) Tell me you're the head writer of 7D! (A shot of said show's intro appears in the corner)
Renee: I'm still writing. Um, I write science fiction and fantasy...
(Cut to a shot of Renee Carter Hall's book "Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder")
Renee (vo): ...self-published a few things, had some other things and small presses, um...
(Cut to a shot of another book by Hall, a collection of short stories called "Six Impossible Things")
Renee (vo): I do a fair amount of short stories. Drawing art is kind of more of, um...
Renee: ...a thing I do for myself every so often. That's– That's a little bit more of a hobby, but it's kind of gone dormant lately.
NC: Well, you've had a very rare experience that almost no other kid has ever had and would love to have. What do you take away from it?
Renee: One of the things I want to express is just how grateful I am to, you know, to everybody who was involved in that.
Renee (vo): And just what an incredible experience it was, you know, for me. Again, that's something that at thirteen you don't necessarily think to say.
Renee: I also, you know, have another reason to be thankful, because if it hadn't been for everything that went on with the show, um, I probably would have never met my husband.
NC: (eyes shift around briefly) Plucky Duck?
Renee: He was a fan of the show and wrote to me and, uh, wrote to the three of us, actually.
Renee (vo): And, uh, I was the one who wrote back, and we kept sending letters back and forth, and friendship turned into more, and we're actually gonna be celebrating our twentieth anniversary next year...
Renee: ...so I'm also grateful for that.
NC: Tell me you two used to send Tiny Toon Valentines to each other. They did use to make those.
Renee: We used to. We used to do quite a bit of that.
(Cut to images of various Tiny Toons Valentines cards)
Renee (vo): As a matter of fact, I had a drawing of Buster and Babs on our... our rehearsal dinner invitations.
Renee: We've had a nod to it.
NC: (to the audience) Well, you can see more of Renee's writing at the link below...
(Cut to a shot of the website "Three From Waynesboro", with two URLs: "ThreeFromWaynesboro.com" and "ReneeCarterHall.com")
NC (vo): ...as well as discover more about this experience at her blog.
(To a ding, a Tiny Toons DVD pops up, called "Crazy Crew Rescues", showing that Renee's episode can be found on that DVD)
NC: Renee, congrats to you and your friends on such a funny episode, and thank you for being on.
Renee: Thank you for having me.
NC: (to the audience) I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and I don't know about you, but I'm in an even more nostalgic mood.
(He pulls out his "I Donut Donuts" t-shirt, which can only mean one thing...)