Every year WB usually releases another Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set, filled with cleaned and restored Warner Bros. cartoons along with a load of rare features and specials. Though they're great, I've been let down in one area every time, because the one bonus inclusion I've been hoping most for is the 1990 special "Happy Birthday Bugs! 50 Looney Years!"

I used to have that special videotaped, but I have no idea where the recording wound up (most likely taped over and erased). I finally found it elsewhere--WB sold it on VHS shortly after it aired.

And after seeing it again....NOW I know why they won't put this on DVD.

The special is fluff, and nothing but. Termite Terrace, Leon Schlesinger, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, any other name you can think of---nobody is acknowledged here, because the actual history of Bugs is substituted for a few things they made up, like he grew up in Brooklyn and was discovered at a soda fountain.

Bugs doesn't even get much of his own special--the majority of screentime is taken up by celebrities talking about how much they love Bugs. The announcer runs through the list of who's appearing at the beginning, and I don't want to spoil anything yet, but I will mention Debbie Gibson is on the list. Yet as some kind of metaphor for her own career, she only appears for two seconds. Those two seconds are inside the opening song, "That's Not All Folks," sung by Little Richard.

The fake history of Bugs is recited by Mary Hart as an "Entertainment Tonight" cover story, and every so often we're interrupted by ACE intrepid news reporter Joe Garigiola for an update on the protest outside the TV studios by angry Daffy Duck fans. It eventually turns out that all those protesters were paid by Daffy, because nobody could possibly love Daffy more than Bugs.

There are a couple of cool things every so often, like the pencil test for the 1990 short "Box Office Bunny" and a couple of preview clips for Tiny Toon Adventures. The two clips are from the first two episodes that finished production--"Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow" and "Cinemaniacs." If there was anything different about them, I would have shown those differences to you. No, they appeared pretty much in the same finished form as they aired that fall.

Proof that we're not dealing with an ordinary TV special here: various clips from imaginary episodes of early 90's talk shows that took the subject of Bugs Bunny.
Sally Jessy Raphael: "Serious businessmen by day, Bugs Bunny impersonators by night!"
Joan Rivers: "We're tawking today with men who have changed their names to Bugs Bunny in hopes of atwacting women!"
Geraldo shows clips of Bugs turning villainous anvil-dropping attempts on those who committed them, then says "You've seen the evidence, folks....now, you decide. Anvil accidents...or ARE they?"

Daffy is viewing this stuff on his TV and mutters to himself, "This is ridiculous!" He read our minds.

It's James Bond! Well, he wasn't Bond yet.....I don't know what Pierce Brosnan was doing in 1990, and this article is already against deadline, so forget the ten seconds required for IMDB research. Pierce remarks that Bugs is a true romantic no other human male could ever hope to compete with (his words, not mine). Valerie Harper apparently has dated Bugs: "Did I do something to offend you? You never call, you never write....I thought we had something special!!"

She's not the only actress with the hots for a cartoon rabbit; Jane Seymour remarks "Those eyes, those ears, oooooohh." Morgan Fairchild is in the opening list but doesn't appear in the special. Maybe her comments on Bugs were too hot for TV?

Maury "I'm Married to Connie Fung" Povich appears. At this time he was the host of "A Current Affair," so he hosts a news story on an old actor who claims HE is the original Bugs Bunny, NOT the current star. "Tell me somethin,' Maury, do I look like Bugs ta you? .....OF COURSE I DO!"

Trust me....these screens make it look funnier than it really is.

Li'l Fred Savage's two cents: "I used to have this Bugs Bunny lunchbox......you know....and it was....real neat. You know."

Chuck Norris, of course, says no such thing. He and Bugs both know the rabbit wouldn't stand a chance, but this is his birthday, so he'll be nice just this once. Chuck Norris simply remarks that Bugs is "tough." That's as much as he'll get.

Dr. Ruth? Hoy! These guests get better and better! And the unorthodox choice doesn't disappoint--Ruth remarks that she has always admired Bugs for those times when he dressed in drag. "Bugs has always been so comfortable wiff his sexuality!" Ruth says. Wow. I don't know what WB was on when they made up this list, but I want some.

There's a fake commercial in the middle of the special from Acme, Inc. It's done like a used car dealership ad for some reason, even though Acme is supposed to be a catalog company. I have no idea if the name "Acme Acres" is a coincidence, or if they really stole it from the Tiny Toons demo reels.

Kirk Cameron is awed by Bugs's presence. "I think it's amazing to be working in the same studio as Bugs.....to be walking down the same streets that he hops!" William Shatner added: "Bugs....is ex...cellent! HE is.....the true comedian, AN.....inspiration to....all!" Tommy Lasorda (not shown, but he was in there) contributed that Bugs "would be an excellent baseball player. He's more than just an ordinary steak sauce, a heckuva lot more!" Then came Bill Cosby: "BUGS HE LIKES THEH PUDDING POPS AH GA-HAH heh."

This is what bugs me most about Disney's current overuse of Raven: the sheer laziness of the idea. They could have made an effort and cast somebody we hadn't seen before, but instead they just said "Let's just get that girl from the Cosby Show, kids will worship whoever we tell them to." In this time period, Disney didn't own Raven yet--she was just a plot device to extend the life of Cosby's show.

Or maybe Disney already had their claws in Raven. When she's given the mike, she says "Happy Birthday Bugs, and Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse!" The Cos corrects her: "No, you gots the wrong guys, see, Bugs Bunny isn't Disney!" It's interesting they left that blurt in. The only other trace of Mickey was half his head in the Bugs scene from Roger Rabbit, which was included but cropped by WB.

The last special guest appearance is from Whoopi Goldberg. Ever the sentimental person, she works in a mention for Mel Blanc, who died shortly before the special's production. There's a short reflection on Mel and his work, and I have to wonder if he would have gotten into this thing if he hadn't just died.

There's also a long montage of Bugs's career, spanning from his 1940 debut to the present day.

Okay, so maybe that really is all, folks. It's kind of sad. My memories were rosier than the reality. This will never appear in the Golden Collection--it's brainless and as dated as year-old milk.

But where else are you going to see Chuck Norris and Dr. Ruth in the same program?