We still don’t know whether the new Looney Tunes Show for Cartoon Network will meet our lofty expectations, but I was invited to a screening this past week to preview the three new CGI Road Runner-Coyote shorts for theatrical release — and my verdict is in: They’re terrific!

Coyote Falls is the first one out (it’ll be attached to Cats and Dogs 2 opening next Friday, July 30th). These are three-minute, three-dimensional cartoons in widescreen (scope). It works perfectly for these characters – the feeling of space in the vast desert only adds to Coyote’s desperation. This time he has ordered an ACME bungee cord and has set up a birdseed trap under a highway bridge. It’s a “foolproof” plan that takes everything into consideration … except oncoming traffic.

The characterizations, posing, even the sound effects and music (by Chris Lennertz) are spot on. I especially liked the explosions, which in cg have a stronger impact and thus are funnier. The 3-D is even used to extend into the audience – something most modern filmmakers are loathe to exploit. At three minutes these films really are too short (I think some trailers are longer than that), but they show real potential. This is the first Looney Tunes short produced by Sam Register’s new Warner Bros. Animation division. (BTW, the film is simply a Warner Bros. Cartoon with no Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies designation). Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone are supervising producers along with Allison Abbate (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Corpse Bride, Iron Giant), Matthew O’Callaghan (Curious George) directed in respectful homage to Chuck Jones. The film begins with a very cool 3D CG WB-rings logo designed by Peter Girardi. Below is a 25-second clip to give you a taste. Below that are three exclusive images (click thumbnails to enlarge).

[clip removed at request of producer]