|“||Y'see, Buster, you really have had a wonderful cartoon show.||”|
— Harvey after showing Buster how miserable everyone would be without him
"It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" is the Christmas-themed episode (and also the series finale) of the Warner Bros. animated television series Tiny Toon Adventures, produced at the end of the show's third season and originally aired as a prime-time special on FOX on December 6, 1992. As suggested by the title (and a line in the opening sequence), the story is a parody of the classic Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life (which the series' creator, Tom Ruegger, has stated to be his favorite Christmas movie).
The special opens on Christmas Eve in Acme Acres, where much like the opening scene from It's a Wonderful Life, the Toonsters are praying to the heavens on behalf of their star, Buster Bunny (with Plucky Duck being a seeming exception who then starts praying for Buster's sake when he's convinced that no one else is looking). Up in the sky, God is heard summoning a rabbit angel named Harvey, telling him that Buster is thinking of quitting Tiny Toons because he thinks he's a failure. God then proceeds to show Harvey the circumstances that led to this:
Earlier that day, Buster is in charge of directing the Tiny Toons Prime-time Holiday Spectacular. During the rehearsals, Montana Max, who is in a wheelchair (just like Mr. Potter) because he had an accident while skiing with Morgan Fairchild, is outraged to learn that he's been cut out of the special because Buster didn't think he would show up. Furious, Max does everything to ruin the rehearsals - he causes Li'l Sneezer to sneeze during his Christmas Carol sketch, he convinces Babs that Buster is flirting with her ice-skating partner Cher, he rigs the stage so that Cher falls into a tub of Acme piranhas, and he replaces Plucky and William Shatner's microphones with dynamite sticks. Everyone takes out their frustration on Buster, and to make matters worse, Max bribes Fran and Edward, the FOX network executives who are overseeing production, into putting him in charge of the special. Feeling he's let everybody down, Buster leaves, causing his friends to worry for him.
As the story has caught up to what was going on when the episode began, Buster heads off to literally "throw himself out of the picture" (by jumping out of the celluloid). But before he can do so, Harvey drops in, introducing himself to Buster as his "guardian toon angel". Buster refuses to believe this angel is for real, until he wishes aloud that he'd never been on Tiny Toons, which Harvey instantly grants. Buster retorts that Warner Bros. would never let him out of his contract, at which point a bolt of lightning suddenly disintegrates said contract from his hand.
To prove his point, Harvey takes Buster to an alternate reality where he never existed, in which Acme Acres has been taken over by Montana Max and renamed "Montyville". In this reality, Plucky is the main star of Tiny Toons, which he has turned into nothing more than a vanity project for himself, and Babs is a hapless patsy who constantly has anvils dropped on herself. When Buster sees this, he storms the set of the show and confronts Alternate Plucky, screaming, "What are you, goofy?" Insulted by that remark ("What are you, a spy from Disney?!"), Alternate Plucky mistakes Buster for a crazy fan and has this universe's equivalents of Arnold and Sneezer (the latter of whom is named Sleazer) throw Buster out.
Still refusing to listen to what Harvey's telling him, Buster takes a look at Acme Looniversity, only to find that, in this universe, it is "Montana Max's Business Looniversity", where students learn about business 24/7 (literally, because Max has given the students an 18-hour day, due to the holidays). Finally realizing what Harvey is showing him, Buster asks him what happened to Babs in this universe, and Harvey responds by pointing him to the school's film vault. In there, Buster comes upon the alternate universe's version of Babs - a hopelessly depressed, miserable girl, dressed like the alternate version of Mary Bailey, watching old Looney Tunes shorts. After they introduce themselves to each other and he finishes with the famous end line, "No relation," she wonders if she knows him (because it's the first time since she'd starred with Plucky on Tiny Toons that that end line has ever worked). When Buster tells her flat-out that they're the real stars of the series, Alternate Babs berates that idea and runs away. This proves to be the crushing blow for Buster, who pleads to Harvey to send him back to the world he knows. Harvey says he'll see what he can do, but first they have to break for commercials.
After the commercial break, Harvey disappears and seems to abandon Buster, until the Babs that he knows comes into the film vault and addresses him directly. Buster is ecstatic about this and runs about kissing and giving holiday greetings to everything in sight (including wishing a Happy Hanukkah to executive producer Steven Spielberg). After a while of this, Babs stops him and tells him that Monty, as the new director, is ruining the special (his skits include Plucky reading a ridiculous poem about banking, and Elmyra being cast as Leona Helmsley). Buster's position as director is restored when he returns to the Looniversity, and he then promises Max that he's given him a new part as the star - though, as Max soon finds out, Buster means "Christmas tree star". Buster then reveals that earlier he was actually asking Cher what to give Babs for Christmas; when Babs asks him what it was, he responds by giving her a very deep kiss. The special ends with the main characters singing a song concluding with a variation of Clarence's note to George: "No Toon is a failure who has friends." In the very last shot, Harvey takes off his rabbit costume, revealing himself to be Bugs Bunny, and comments, "Not bad... for amateurs."
- Besides the plot, other references to It's a Wonderful Life include:
- Max is introduced as "the richest and meanest toon in Acme Acres", similar to Mr. Potter's introduction.
- When Buster comments on Cher's dress, she replies with Violet Bick's line, "This old thing? I only wear it when I don't care how I look."
- Gogo Dodo slides down a banister, knocking off a loose knob.
- When Bugs/Harvey introduces himself as Buster's guardian angel, Buster sarcastically replies, "Yeah, and I'm Frank Capra."
- In the cartoons that Alternate Babs is watching in the film vault, Porky Pig tells Petunia that he's going to lasso the moon for her, and Pepé Le Pew applies a cologne labeled "Zuzu's Petals".
- The character of Harvey is named after the 1950 film of the same name (itself adapted from a 1944 play) starring Jimmy Stewart (who'd previously played George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life) as a man with an invisible rabbit friend named Harvey. In addition, the voice used for Harvey is an impression of Stewart's.
- The sled that Buster and Babs are riding has "Rosebud" written on it, a reference to Citizen Kane.
- Parody versions of the Grinch, Max, and Sam the Snowman appear during Buster and Babs' sled ride.
- Fran and Edward, the two FOX executives overseeing production of the special, previously appeared in the episode "Thirteensomething", which, like this episode, was also animated by StarToons.
- In addition to Cher and William Shatner (the latter of whom is called "The Parum-Pum Man" in the end credits), other celebrity guest stars who appear at the rehearsals include Bob Hope (as the Ghost of Christmas Past in Sneezer's sketch), Luke Perry (whom Plucky insultingly addresses as "Mr. 'I Star In A Show About Zip Codes'"), Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams (dressed as Peter Pan, whom he portrayed in the 1991 Spielberg-directed movie Hook).
- Bob Hope says that Sneezer is "cuter than those twins on that Saget show." He's referring to the sitcom Full House, in which Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen both played the role of Michelle Tanner.
- In the alternate reality, Bugs/Harvey reads a newspaper with the headline "Encino Man Wins Best Pic Oscar".
- The closing song's line "If your Christmas tree's pathetic" has a visual of Buster and Babs drawn to look like Charlie Brown and Lucy van Pelt with the tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- Although this was the last episode of Tiny Toons (aside from the 1994 hour-length prime-time specials, Spring Break and Night Ghoulery), an earlier episode that FOX had refused to run ("Toons from the Crypt") would eventually air when the show's reruns were picked up by Nickelodeon in 1995.
Following its 1992 premiere, "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" continued to be annually broadcast on Fox Kids through 1994. Afterwards, as an episode of the series, it was aired alongside other Christmas episodes on Nickelodeon from 1995 to 1998 and later from 2002 to 2003, on Kids' WB! from 1997 to 1999, on Cartoon Network from 1999 to 2001, on the Nicktoons Network in 2003 and 2004, and most recently re-aired on the Hub Network (and its replacement, Discovery Family) in 2013 and 2014.
Warner Home Video made the special available on VHS on August 13, 1996. It was later included on the Tiny Toon Adventures: Volume 4 - Looney Links! DVD set, released on May 28, 2013.
- Tiny Toon Adventures Wiki: It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special
- WB Animated Universe Wiki: It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special
- "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" at TV.com
- "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" at the Internet Movie Database
- "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" recap at TV Tropes
- Platypus Comix's review