In the wake of the election, I decided to post something a little lighthearted and write a throwback review of a television show that is still near and dear to my heart: Animaniacs!
If you were a child in the ’90s, or had a child in the ’90s, you’ve probably heard of the show, but just in case, I shall summarize. The show, much like Tiny Toon Adventures, was a Steven Spielberg production from 1993-1998. It was made up of various unrelated shorts containing a barrage of characters that were occasionally inserted into each others’ skits for continuity. The main three, though, were the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and their sister, Dot. Don’t ask what they are, it’s never revealed; the best descriptor I can give is that they resemble Bosko and Honey of early Looney Tune fame. The story goes that after they were created back in the old cartoon days, they were called too zany and locked away in the studio water tower until their escape in modern (early 1990s) times. Other characters in the Animaniac family included lab rats Pinky and the Brain, little girl Mindy and her faithful dog Buttons, who always got in trouble despite the fact that he saved her life every episode, the Goodfeathers, who were direct pigeon versions of DeNiro, Pesci, and Liotta in Goodfellas, and Slappy Squirrel, who was an aged cartoon star with a razor wit. (Yes, I know there are more, but if I did them all it would take up a ton of time.)
I absolutely did not miss this show coming on TV growing up, and I still watch it on DVD whenever I’m sick. (Try it. I swear it will cure you.) From the bright colors to the wacky characters to the extremely catchy music, you can still catch me humming the tunes. Most adults at the times were also interested because of some of the jokes inserted into the show that the kids didn’t get (“Yakko, can you conjugate?” “I’ve never even kissed a girl!”; “I am a pianist!” “You kiss your mother with that potty mouth?”). As an adult, I get them now and it makes it all the better. What I wasn’t aware of at the time, but I find pretty amazing now, is the fact that there were actually things to be learned from the show! Take the Presidents Song (YouTubed here), Wakko’s America, which names all of the states and capitals, or Yakko’s World, which gave the names of all the countries in the world at the time: they are legitimately educational! There is also a Rita and Runt episode which deals with the Holocaust that gets me very time.
From a nostalgia point of view, this is great, and I would tell anyone, whether you have kids or not, to give it a watch.