5 Things To Know About the Animaniacs Revival

Brand-new songs, even more politics, and — is that a COVID joke? The talent behind the new Hulu series give us the scoop.

by | November 19, 2020 | Comments

When Animaniacs premiered in 1993, it came in at a new golden age for animation. Gone were the toy-commercials-turned-cartoons of the ’80s, and in came comedy shows with memorable characters and enough chaotic energy to anger absolutely everyone, while also making them laugh hysterically.

From a sax-playing Bill Clinton, to stars of the classic studio era of Hollywood, to Saddam Hussein, to Goodfellas, nothing and no one was above parody for the Warner brothers, and the Warner sister, Dot. For five seasons and 99 episodes, Animaniacs captured the look and feel of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons while updating the references for ’90s audiences, all while influencing them with memorable, catchy tunes like the unforgettable “Yakko’s World.”

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

It’s been 22 years, and the Warner siblings are back, along with Pinky and the Brain, for brand-new episodes at Hulu. The new episodes pick up exactly where we left off in 1998, giving the show’s creatives two decades worth of pop culture and political references to satirize.

But how did Animaniacs rise to the wackiness of 2020 while remaining the zany-to-the-max show audiences loved 22 years ago? And what can we expect of the new songs? The cast and creators behind Hulu’s Animaniacs revival spoke with Rotten Tomatoes to tease all the totally insane-y things we can expect from the show.

1. Steven Spielberg Remains Very Much Involved

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, who also produced the original Animaniacs and was involved in every aspect of production, returns for the revival. Wellesley Wild, one of the two new showrunners, told Rotten Tomatoes that the new episodes are very much the brainchild of Spielberg, who gets an appearance in the very first of the new episodes with a Jurassic Park parody.

“Steven really wanted to set the show in the right direction from the start,” Wild explained. “He really had a specific vision for the show in mind, and we tried to realize what he had in his head, to imbue the show with the balance of cartoon violence, satire, and meta-humor from the original episodes.”

2. It’s Just Like You Remember, But With Some Updates

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

A lot has changed in animation over the past 22 years. Not only in the way shows are made, but also in what they do and say. Animaniacs is no longer the only comedy with meta-humor in a world with Community or Adventure Time. So there’s a lot riding on the new episodes to feel both like the originals, while also doing something that contemporary cartoons aren’t doing, and co-showrunner Gabe Swarr knows this.

“In the olden days they used different animation studios for different episodes,” Swarr said. “So we contacted one of them directly and asked how they went about it and really leaned into the way they animated the characters.”

“Adhering and staying as close as possible to the original and only changing what was necessary to bring it up to date was the number one goal,” Wild added. “We’re obviously pulling from more relevant social commentary and cultural events; for example, Dot flexes her feminist muscles a little more in the revival than she did in the original, and she’s sort of a more assertive character.”

3. It’s Like No Time Has Passed for the Cast

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

Though Animaniacs has new writers and showrunners, the main cast remains the same, with Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, and Maurice LaMarche returning as Yakko (and Pinky), Wakko, Dot (and Brain), respectively.

Though the show has been off the air for 22 years, the cast has never been as ready to return to being zany.

“It was like putting on a favorite pair of pants,” LaMarche said. “It was great, man. Literally falling back into something we’ve loved all these years and nobody needed any reminders. It was just like getting the band back together.”

Harnell agreed: “The thing is that we’ve been doing the Comic-Con circuit for at least 10 years, and we do script readings where people want to interact with us as Pinky and the Brain, or Wakko the Great Wakkorotti. Those muscles have been kept in shape for a decade at least, just waiting to be brought out into actual animated cells.”

4. Expect New Music Genres and Parodies

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

One of the most memorable aspects of Animaniacs is its music, particularly its songs. What other show is able to make a song rhyming every word in the dictionary, or every U.S. President until Clinton? So expectations are high for the new songwriter team to stand out at a time where animated shows with musical numbers are not a rarity anymore. Still, there may be a few surprises up the show’s sleeve.

“There are so many new genres that have become popular since the show ended in the late nineties,” Wild said. “So we’re using K-pop, reggaeton, and just about everything in the new episodes.”

Harnell teased the return of Broadway-style numbers.

“Without giving too much away, I can say that we did a really amazing parody of one of my all-time favorite Broadway musicals,” Harnell said.

Animaniacs has always maintained a balance between modern references and obscure, classic-Hollywood references, so to have a song parody the 1959 William Castle horror film The Tingler is a good sign for fans of the original episodes.

“There is an episode in which Dr. Scratchansniff sings a song about the Tickler, who’s like this scary thing like the Tingler,” Paulsen said.

5. One Joke Was Changed Because of the Pandemic

Animaniacs on Hulu season 1

(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)

Though Animaniacs prides itself on speaking about current issues, animation takes a long time to be produced. The first of the new episodes even comments on the lag and includes a segment in which the Warner siblings try to predict what happened between 2018 (when the episode was written) and 2020; of course, no one could’ve predicted the events of this extraordinary year, which posed a challenge for the writers.

“When we started in 2018, we went through the calendar of events coming up and wrote in the ones that would feel topical,” Wild explained. “We have a segment all about the Olympics, but now there’s no Olympics due to COVID. As a show that prides itself on social commentary, we have to speak to the cultural realities we’re given. The inelegant social experiment we’re living through now, we couldn’t see coming.”

Wild also teased one small change that was made in light of the pandemic.

“We had to kill a few jokes that weren’t about COVID, but about illness in general. There was one where Dr. Scratchansniff gets really sick, and it looks like he had a virus, and we had to change it to make it more silly. Gabe put like polka dots on him to make it different.”

Animaniacs launches on Friday, November 20 on Hulu

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

twilight Trailer screen actors guild renewed TV shows spy thriller FXX Travel Channel Television Academy IFC ABC E3 cancelled television Nickelodeon History theme song cinemax USA Network Video Games a nightmare on elm street comic streaming Fox Searchlight scary movies universal monsters Mary Tyler Moore Cartoon Network laika toronto CNN APB nbcuniversal chucky Logo worst Netflix DC Universe YA Disney+ Disney Plus FX TIFF remakes Drama quibi Lucasfilm Dark Horse Comics blaxploitation festivals dark Pirates Chernobyl what to watch reviews Trophy Talk Marvel Television TV Disney Channel green book japanese American Society of Cinematographers Cosplay latino nature PBS Holiday Premiere Dates Summer reboot Paramount Network TCA MTV crime Mystery TBS binge french facebook diversity foreign Extras Paramount finale satire Biopics Character Guide documentary Stephen King Rock Rocky indie travel Amazon Prime Video psycho Superheroe emmy awards LGBT Endgame rotten black christmas movies Spectrum Originals children's TV Starz golden globes Emmys HBO Trivia news BBC America spain YouTube Ellie Kemper Musical Animation 2020 werewolf Crackle cults Sundance TV sitcom revenge YouTube Red independent Rocketman supernatural Brie Larson Women's History Month 2018 OneApp Freeform Captain marvel Teen italian Box Office Avengers dc Set visit CBS All Access Universal asian-american crime thriller book Thanksgiving Ovation Turner Classic Movies SDCC Heroines TCM Toys game show zombies venice adaptation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Interview Showtime films anthology Tubi Pride Month casting disaster indiana jones Sundance Now WGN ABC Family Quiz cars war Photos First Reviews series Superheroes unscripted BBC medical drama Holidays Amazon Prime TNT sequels vampires anime RT21 Music romance Baby Yoda game of thrones police drama teaser Peacock Britbox The Witch cancelled TV shows DGA Arrowverse Marathons 4/20 First Look canceled TV shows Comics on TV screenings TCA Awards Syfy Academy Awards BET Awards discovery Comic Book blockbuster concert tv talk serial killer Hulu Schedule romantic comedy Tomatazos cops festival Acorn TV scorecard Emmy Nominations mutant Winners YouTube Premium canceled superhero Hallmark Christmas movies movie Kids & Family RT History kids Oscars Mary poppins deadpool Reality Competition child's play Creative Arts Emmys movies Calendar cooking football award winner Elton John Hallmark TV renewals Valentine's Day thriller comiccon Reality slashers MSNBC Awards DC streaming service adventure Year in Review DirecTV Mindy Kaling USA south america harry potter transformers zombie Warner Bros. Martial Arts Disney LGBTQ docudrama BBC One historical drama Apple Musicals dragons Classic Film sag awards robots video Nominations halloween halloween tv Pixar technology psychological thriller justice league HBO Max The Purge Binge Guide talk show toy story mockumentary james bond Star Wars Adult Swim Song of Ice and Fire Best and Worst cancelled TV series all-time television sequel Action Amazon Studios Tarantino Pop TV Fox News fast and furious WarnerMedia CW Seed PaleyFest 72 Emmy Awards sports space Sony Pictures NYCC science fiction Certified Fresh Walt Disney Pictures spanish Western Marvel Studios comic books FOX Comedy Central Marvel batman Opinion Amazon Anna Paquin Star Trek Fall TV VOD 21st Century Fox cancelled boxoffice worst movies Grammys Country Black Mirror Netflix Christmas movies cartoon cats singing competition directors TLC hispanic crime drama doctor who joker CBS composers Pet Sematary CMT comics true crime Ghostbusters crossover Podcast stand-up comedy BET criterion Awards Tour Bravo 2017 Winter TV Comedy Rom-Com Sci-Fi mission: impossible Columbia Pictures Disney Plus Fantasy ghosts documentaries hist Food Network The Arrangement President critics San Diego Comic-Con Sundance elevated horror A24 aliens Lifetime Apple TV Plus Writers Guild of America breaking bad 71st Emmy Awards rt archives The CW Masterpiece Black History Month Shudder Spike hollywood period drama franchise Esquire The Walking Dead archives die hard GLAAD IFC Films Horror HBO Go jamie lee curtis FX on Hulu Election ID rotten movies we love Discovery Channel animated Disney streaming service SXSW TCA Winter 2020 Infographic Apple TV+ political drama Hear Us Out australia National Geographic biography dramedy Spring TV 2019 Watching Series miniseries SundanceTV Sneak Peek Christmas Vudu 007 The Academy ratings strong female leads best based on movie See It Skip It social media nfl TruTV Lionsgate zero dark thirty ESPN name the review Lifetime Christmas movies 20th Century Fox Countdown VH1 politics Red Carpet 24 frames VICE witnail Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Cannes 2015 OWN New York Comic Con Crunchyroll Nat Geo free movies Shondaland parents TCA 2017 Turner A&E Mudbound MCU Funimation comedies natural history 45 X-Men DC Comics spider-man Tumblr 2016 dogs Epix Super Bowl spanish language GoT Family Pop spinoff PlayStation stoner Television Critics Association Mary Poppins Returns AMC dceu Film ITV NBC obituary GIFs Film Festival classics E! stop motion versus BAFTA TV Land video on demand richard e. Grant El Rey Polls and Games