Only two more years of waiting to go! Animaniacs
has finally been confirmed as returning to TV! Like most
Animaniac-maniacs, I've had my own fantasies stewing in my brain
for how I would go about reviving the series, though I'm about as
likely to get the call from WB as Tom Ruegger is. But it
doesn't hurt to fantasize.
If I was restarting the series, I would fill it with a mix of new and returning characters. I think the original show could have lasted longer if they had introduced new segments on a regular basis. Instead they stuck with the same old ones until the end. Tom Minton originally thought Toby Danger, the Jonny Quest parody that appeared on Freakazoid, could appear on Animaniacs: Wakko could walk up to his TV and say "It's time for my favorite show, Toby Danger!" Maybe it should've happened. The show could have remained fresh and experimental to the very end.
I'll leave it up to you to decide what the new cast would look like. But if some new characters are joining, some old characters would have to go. Let's examine each segment of the series and determine which concepts still have enough life in them for new stories.
The three puppy-children are so synonymous with the series that many people erroneously refer to them as "The Animaniacs." They may have been the de facto leaders from the start, but they're strong enough to deserve it. They are not only hilarious to watch, but therapeutic due to most of their cartoons holding a satirical edge. Basically to write a Warner Sibs cartoon you find something about life that's annoying or unfair, and send them to destroy it. This kind of thing is timeless, and we've built up plenty of crud in the last 25 years for the Warners to take down. Of course they need to be the center again.
|PINKY AND THE BRAIN
Another "duh," and it's already been confirmed by the studio, so there you are. Pinky and the Brain have had even more material produced than the Warners have -- all their segments from the original series, the 65 episodes from their own series and 13 episodes of the failed experiment. And yet I still don't feel I've seen enough ridiculous plots to take over the world and inane replies to what Brain is pondering. These mice were built to last.
If Slappy felt out of place in the cartoon world of the 1990s, imagine how she would feel now in an era several decades divorced from the ancient "predator + prey + violence" schtick she swears by. But I still want to see Slappy in the new show, precisely for that reason. The things a cranky old squirrel would say about today's culture would be priceless. And if she gets too out of line, we have Skippy to rein her in.
I think we can probably retire this one; possibly replace it with an animal spoof of a genre more popular today. Goodfellas parodies were already growing whiskers by 1993 and by the Kids WB years these three pigeons were reduced to cameos, so even the staff apparently got tired of it. Also, we've now heard every permutation of how Pesto can misinterpret a word. Bada bing.
|BUTTONS AND MINDY
This is even more tired than Goodfeathers is and it's because "Buttons and Mindy" was an exercise in how many ways they could remake the exact same cartoon over and over, right down to the opening and closing dialogue repeating itself every time. We've seen this cartoon in space, in Oz, in various periods of ancient history, under water and with superpowers added. There's nothing left to do. Buttons and Mindy are some of the more recognizable Animaniacs characters though, and some fans might miss them. I would only bring them back if something fresh could be done.
|RITA AND RUNT
These segments are stil controversial (though not so much as the teenager mentioned a few paragraphs down) because they weren't entirely funny. But they kinda weren't supposed to be. The idea behind Rita and Runt was to spice things up by having a running series of cartoons that had elements of drama and emotion. Just in case that concept didn't take, the cat had Bernadette Peters' voice. Maybe if kids didn't want to watch Rita nearly die yet again, they might want to hear Peters slay it with another vocal masterpiece.
Since Peters was a big part of those cartoons, they would have to cast her again to make new ones...and she's still active on Broadway, so there might be scheduling issues.
No matter how many times I see a giant chicken try to pass himself off as a celebrity or important figure, and almost NOBODY noticing, I still haven't seen it enough times. There's infinite life here. Keep Boo around.
Also, I thought I asked for a screencap of a chicken. That is clearly a man in a suit with a beak.
If there's any more Animaniacs segment more universally reviled, I haven't heard of it. I can tolerate Katie, but most other fans can't stand her, and sit through these shorts just feeling sorry for her family instead of laughing. But think about this for a second: the shorts are about a teenager who turns into a monster and explodes. Why is this not cool? Maybe they just need to look at it a different way.
We didn't see Pip Pumphandle come back until the staff had gotten wind of how popular "Chairman of the Bored" was, and that was waaaaay at the tail end of the production run, so he showed up in "Star Warners" and "Wakko's Wish" years after he had first appeared in '93. However, we may never see him again, and it's because his existence is so tied to Ben Stein's voice. If you've heard Stein give a commentary on a cable news show recently, then you know his voice has aged and doesn't sound the same anymore. And there's no other voice like his out there.
Tom Ruegger was asked in a Reddit AMA what he would do differently if he got to make the series a second time. He said, "Probably no hippos." So there you are.
Almost forgot about this one, didn't you? Most people would assume we've seen the last of him since the extremely limited premise of "talking candle illuminates important document from American history" was only good for three cartoons max, and all three exist. However, the original "The Flame" was Steven Spielberg's absolute favorite Animaniacs cartoon, and he's the reason there are two more. When Steven sits down at the table with whatever staff ends up making the production crew, the first thing he's going to say is "So how about a new Flame cartoon, eh?" With enthusiasm.
|WINNIE THE POOH NARRATING A
ONE-SHOT STORY ABOUT A SENTIENT OBJECT
I seriously doubt we'll ever see this kind of thing again. These are referencing the old Disney cartoons narrated by Sterling Holloway like "Susie the Little Blue Coupe," and those have largely been forgotten. I do feel that for the sake of creativity and the series' growth, one-shots have to be experimented with every now and then. But they don't have to be this treacly.
Minerva Mink was barely in the original show since after just two cartoons had been made, higher-ups started complaining about how sexually overt they were. We're more tolerant of furries now, right?
|GOOD IDEA BAD IDEA
Good idea: bringing back Good Idea Bad Idea. This was undeniably the best of the show's filler segments. Unlike Ben Stein, Tom Bodett is still working and sounds the same. And keep Mr. Skullhead in them! He's the perfect match for these shorts since you can do anything to him.
Some people don't remember, but for some reason the early 90s was notable for its cultural hatred of mimes. I don't know where it came from, but the vibe in the air was definitely anti-mime. So we got a string of cartoons where the only point was to hurt a mime. We've gotten it out of our system now.
For an update, I propose we replace it with "Meme Time" where some guy who can't stop repeating memes gets pummeled. That would really sell!
|COLIN AKA THE "RANDY
If anything represents the "anything goes" spirit of Animaniacs, it's this series of segments in which a kid waddles out of his house, recites a weird urban legend story about his friend Randy, then says "Ok bye" and races back home. That's the kind of bizarre thing you wouldn't see on any other show, but it works. I have no idea how they could do it a second time though.
|MORE ANIMATION BY JON
I can dream, can't I? I also want a pony.
Well, why the heck not? His own show is unlikely to get a revival by itself. He also made several cameos in the original episodes....let's fold him into the show and have some Freakazoid shorts! That would kick so much ass! HUGBEES!
|THE ORCHESTRATED SOUNDTRACK
Most people have written this one off as impossible, and the one element guaranteed never to return. Not so fast; it stands a good chance.
For one thing, there are still TV cartoons today that use orchestras -- most of Fox's prime-time animation does. Another thing, when WB started their TV cartoon division back up in 1989, their original plan was to go cheap on the music until Spielberg directly intervened. He insisted Tiny Toon Adventures be scored exactly the way the old Looney Tunes were and that influence led to a decision which spread to every WB cartoon for nearly an entire decade. Now 'Berg is back, and if he's still worth his salt, he'll insist the show sound good.
"But Platypus Person," you insist, "orchestras cost MONEY." Yes, and you know what kind of business investors are currently cramming money into until it's overflowing? Streaming services! Netflix is flush with so much cash that they can blow a giant wad on an awkward Will Smith fantasy cop movie, and then immediately greenlight a sequel after everybody said they hated it. Streaming today is what syndication was in 1990 -- red hot and growing. Perhaps more so.
Hulu can afford it. The odds of the orchestra returning are good.
Agree with our picks, or are our slacks full of baloney? Sound off on the forums!
OR, RETURN TO THE MAIN PAGE