After 23 years, Animaniacs has made its long awaited re-debut on Hulu and, to be perfectly honest, it isn’t what I thought it would be… it’s better. Folks, it’s better than I could have imagined. It’s every bit as good — if not better in some ways — than it was back in the 1990’s. This is one of those rare reboots/relaunches that lives up to the original despite the fact that it would be perfectly acceptable if it wasn’t because, honestly… how could it have been?
But it is. By God, it is.
Animaniacs has captured lightning in a bottle twice and it has almost made 2020 bearable as a result.
Yes, there are changes. The gigantic cast of characters: Slappy Squirrel, Rita & Runt, Buttons & Mindy, the Hip Hippos, and many others are noticeably missing which is a real shame as I always considered the rotating cast a strength as you never knew who you were going to see episode after episode. Now, it’s just the Warner Brothers (and sister), Pinkie and the Brain, and occasional new characters that rarely appear. Although these rare segments are indeed funny and original, truthfully, I’m not very wild about my old friends being absent.
The animation looks different as well as it is now done on computer, but it does its absolute best to simulate the old cell method but never quite suceeds giving the show a very clean, yet cheaper look. That being said, even if it does look cheap, it’s still very good animation… it reminded me a lot of Ren & Stimpy at times which is fine, but it’s not Animaniacs.
And, yes… some of the actor’s voices have noticeably aged which you can’t really fault the show for.
Still, once you are beyond those jarring changes, and the first episode that comes off a little clunky, Animaniacs settles into a very nice consistency of high comedy and quality. The timing is great, the laughs are always on point, and the show seems to have a sharper edge to it without demeaning itself with exclusively adult humor. The word “hell” is thrown about a couple of times, a few risqué jokes are told… nothing earth shattering, but the show has not forgotten about its now older core demographic.
Then again, this is the show of “fingerprints,” so maybe I’m just catching more of the adult humor now.
Animaniacs’ new season is flooded with instant classics. The Most Dangerous Game parody that explains the absence of the rest of the cast is a true hoot and watching the Warners go up against a Pennywise parody had me laughing harder than most anything else I’ve seen on television this year. “Gold Meddlers,” an episode centered around the 2020 Olympics (Hey, they didn’t know!) features a new and hilarious reoccurring antagonist, and “Bun Control” is a glorious self-aware gun control allegory that nonsensically becomes an anime.
With Pinky and the Brain, there is the introduction of a possible antagonist to Brain, a visitor from the future that confirms the long time fan theory that Pinky is sabotaging Brain’s plans, a hilarious love story between Pinky and a monster, and an unexpectedly sweet story of Brain and Pinky getting stuck in a car together and the Brain revealing his origins.
This is a near perfect reboot, a satirical and hilarious celebration not only of what Animaniacs has been, but what it still can be.
I look forward to many more seasons of this gloriousness.