The current mania for recycling pop culture has hit television animation with a vengeance. The Cartoon Channel airs endless reruns of old Hanna-Barbera shows; Tweety, Sylvester and Mickey Mouse are starring in Saturday morning shows; and Woody Woodpecker returns to TV in a new series premiering on Fox Kids today at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, the new version of Woody is even less amusing than the original, who wasn't all that much fun to begin with.
Woody made his debut in 1940 in the short "Knock Knock," as an aggressive pest who tormented Andy Panda's dimwitted father with his pranks and brassy laugh (Ah-ha-ha-HA-ha!). Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck also began as screwballs, but the Warner Bros. artists refined them until they were more than just wise guys. Although the animators at the Walter Lantz Studio toned Woody down over the years, he never developed into the kind of dimensional characters Bugs and Daffy became.