“Reboots are symptomatic of a fundamental lack of originality in Hollywood,” Yakko Warner tells us in the opening moments of the trailer for Hulu’s “Animaniacs.” But then a Hulu executive gives Yakko and his siblings a huge check and, thankfully, the reboot of one of the best animated series of all time is a go.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Animaniacs” was part of the early 1990s heyday of the FOX Kids lineup that also brought us the greatest animated series of all time, “Batman: The Animated Series.” Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the show featured Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot. The trio were 1930s cartoon characters who were locked away in the Warner Bros. studio water tower when their terrible films bombed, but escaped in 1993 to run amuck around the studio and beyond. Since the series was structured like a variety show, we also saw stories with other characters, including former cartoon star Slappy the Squirrel; mafia pigeons the Goodfeathers; and the show’s breakout characters, Pinky and the Brain, laboratory rats who tried to take over the world on a nightly basis.
As the Emmy Award-winning theme song told us, the characters were “zany to the max.” But they also brought smart, sophisticated humor. There were parodies of numerous Hollywood stars, films and TV shows. And there was an educational element, as well, as we learned about countries of the world, states and capitals, and the solar system through phenomenal original songs. The show was, honestly, as much for adults as it was for kids. In fact, it was that trait that eventually led to the show’s demise when it moved to the Kids WB and did not appeal enough to the kids’ demographic The WB wanted. The show came to an end, the producers put together a straight-to-video movie, and the Warner siblings and the rest of their “Animaniacs” friends went back into the vault.
Fast forward to 2016, when Netflix began streaming the series. Its popularity inevitably led to talk about a revival, and in 2018, Hulu officially announced it would be the exclusive home for a reboot of the series (as well as all the original episodes). And now, finally, the new series is set to debut, concentrating mostly on Yakko, Wakko and Dot and Pinky and the Brain. Spielberg is back, most of the original voice cast is back, and those fully orchestrated original songs will return as well. Based on the trailer, that trademark adult humor is also in full force as we see jabs at reboots, social media, new technologies and President Trump.
When the new show was announced, I’m not sure that any of us thought this was a reboot we needed, but it is definitely a reboot we desperately need right now. It will be nice to see something “totally insaney” that’s not real life.
“Animaniacs” premieres Friday, Nov. 20, on Hulu. You can see my review of the premiere, as well as some thoughts on the passing of Alex Trebek, at Facebook.com/angelahbentley.