Totally Insaney

The return of the Animaniacs

Before the advent of cable, and before TV splattered cartoons on their schedules all day like so much buckshot from Elmer Fudd’s shotgun, Saturday mornings in the 90s went by like a speed trip. Our pupils dilated with sugary cereal, we shoved and scratched for the best spot in front of the tv to suck down a frenetic swirl of color and sound, knowing when it was over we’d have to wait another week for our fix of Bobby’s World, Carmen Sandiego, ReBoot, TMNT, and Darkwing Duck. But Animaniacs was the only show that was as fully, insanely jacked as we felt with 2 bowls of Choco-Spazz Squares in our bellies and the weekend stretching out before us.

The zany Spielberg-produced series, once the property of Fox and the WB is joining a production line of 90’s cartoons being juiced for streaming platforms, with new episodes of a two-season deal hitting Hulu next month. The teaser trailer is a clever callback to the reanimation theme of another 90’s Spielberg hit, Jurassic Park, and a reminder of the show’s sharp, self-referential writing.

An official sneak peek behind the scenes shows the production team having a blast reviving the characters, with original voice actors returning as ambiguous creatures Yakko, Wakko, Dot, and, of course, the megalomaniac mice Pinky and the Brain.

People who grew up on the show and retroactively discovered its edgy adult jokes will have fun catching grownup references in real time, and its slapdash variety-show style appeals to the quick-consumption format championed by streaming platforms.

Before COVID killed the performing arts, Tress MacNeille, Rob Paulsen, Maurice Lamarche, and Jess Harnell led an awesome stage show that brought the cartoon’s iconic musical numbers to life with a live score. Show reps responded to my queries and said that they will hit the road again as soon as it’s safe!

As society responds to the chill of disease and discord by collectively burrowing into the warm cottony folds of the past, cartoon revivals like Animaniacs offer a fuzzy digital layer of quick-serve sentimentality. Come next month, I’ll have one more reason to snuggle up with my second bowl of Rainbow Froot-Splosion Rings. Look for new episodes on Hulu November 20.

 

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Rachel Llewellyn

Rachel Llewellyn is a saucy media mercenary who's worked at Curve Magazine and Girlfriends Magazine in San Francisco, and ghost-edited two noir novels. She's also translated academic material, written corporate website content, taught adult school, and produced morning television news. Rachel lives in Bakersfield, California, where she hikes with her dog and pushes paper in the government sector.

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