In a few weeks, they will be releasing the first new episodes of Animaniacs in over 20 years.
This will include Pinky and the Brain, but, unfortunately, no new Goodfeathers bits:
Readers of a certain age will have fond childhood memories of weekday afternoons spent in the company of the Warner siblings, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, the central figures of the hugely popular, Emmy-award winning animated series, Animaniacs. Now a whole new generation can appreciate their comic genius with Hulu’s revival of the show, slated to debut next month.
The premise of the original Animaniacs was that Yakko, Wakko, and Dot were characters from the 1930s who were locked way in a water tower on the Warner Bros. lot until they escaped in the 1990s. Now they exist to wreak havoc and have fun. The format borrowed heavily from sketch comedy, with each episode typically featuring three short mini-episodes centered on different characters, connected by bridging segments. Other regular characters included two genetically altered lab mice, Pinky and the Brain, who are always trying to take over the world; Ralph the Security Guard; Slappy Squirrel and her nephew, Skippy; Chicken Boo; Flavio and Marita, aka the Hip Hippos; studio psychiatrist Dr. Otto Scratchansniff and Hello Nurse (also a common catchphrase); and a trio of pigeons known as The Goodfeathers.
As appealing to adults as to kids, the show was smart, funny, irreverent, and even educational, especially with its playful songs listing the nations of the world, for instance, or all the US states and their capitals—set to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw”—or all the presidents set to the “William Tell Overture.” (My personal favorite was “The Solar System Song,” complete with the obligatory joke about Uranus.) The writers were masters of parody, so much so that it became something of a badge of honor to be so featured. Honorees included A Hard Day’s Night, Seinfeld, Friends, Bambi, Power Rangers, Rugrats, and The Lion King, as well as the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas Pirates of Penzance and H.M.S. Pinafore. And of course, the Goodfeathers segments invariably parodied characters from both The Godfather and Goodfellas.
When the original series began streaming on Netflix, it proved so popular that Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Warner Bros. Animation began thinking about reviving Animaniacs. They ultimately inked a deal with Hulu, which included the rights for the original series, as well as Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky and the Brain, and Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain. (That means we can all revisit our favorites on Hulu.) Spielberg returned as executive producer and insisted on bringing back most of the original voice cast for the reboot. A first-look clip debuted earlier this month at the virtual New York Comic-Con (embedded below), parodying Jurassic Park (John Hammond—or rather, a cartoon Spielberg channeling Hammond—reanimates the Warner siblings).
I hope that the writing holds up.
The original was magic.