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

target screenings game show boxing festival space 2020 SDCC TBS Wes Anderson Amazon Prime Video Disney Plus Hallmark kaiju television Schedule 4/20 Paramount Plus social media See It Skip It cults WarnerMedia Disney streaming service Starz marvel cinematic universe Music Watching Series Sneak Peek Syfy harry potter new york Summer blockbuster Emmy Nominations police drama Disney Fantasy golden globe awards Ellie Kemper witnail mockumentary biography breaking bad 90s X-Men 2021 Broadway OWN criterion monster movies binge jurassic park superman thriller Mary Poppins Returns teaser cancelled screen actors guild batman Comics on TV Year in Review Election spanish President BET Awards Black History Month The Witch Apple TV Plus hollywood TV One disaster streaming movies Legendary Binge Guide GoT PlayStation political drama dragons composers Discovery Channel dceu unscripted Hallmark Christmas movies action-comedy reviews dramedy TV movies japanese Marathons halloween tv mcc Warner Bros. ABC cops football Lionsgate Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Heroines First Reviews The Purge classics Esquire biopic Paramount feel good dark Fox Searchlight Academy Awards movie ID TIFF PaleyFest science fiction Bravo Superheroes comic quibi rt archives video TV Apple TV+ Country ABC Signature trailers worst emmy awards Photos Extras joker Winter TV elevated horror DGA 99% new star wars movies psychological thriller ITV reboot Arrowverse ESPN DC streaming service Anna Paquin Trivia scary movies italian Kids & Family critic resources BAFTA Sundance TV Women's History Month TNT Comic Book saw justice league zero dark thirty theme song 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards chucky serial killer series TV renewals FXX wonder woman BET Brie Larson pirates of the caribbean aapi Elton John ABC Family nfl Valentine's Day robots suspense Animation Box Office documentary The Academy 2019 Holidays vampires Netflix laika best Tarantino comics Disney Channel History Vudu Hulu movies NBC E3 LGBTQ ratings Crunchyroll Winners Pet Sematary worst movies Countdown young adult stoner rt labs Martial Arts HBO Awards period drama cinemax crime thriller rt labs critics edition rotten movies we love sports Television Academy Hear Us Out cars Freeform Emmys CNN TCA Walt Disney Pictures RT21 dc historical drama die hard Mudbound 45 A&E Set visit Adult Swim foreign Drama high school festivals indie Rocketman Reality Competition Pride Month sag awards razzies Mary Tyler Moore Amazon Prime scene in color NYCC Quiz fresh San Diego Comic-Con 72 Emmy Awards anime Biopics YouTube Red National Geographic Best and Worst asian-american Sci-Fi Comic-Con@Home 2021 Comedy CBS Film Festival WGN finale cancelled TV shows ViacomCBS Amazon Studios First Look cancelled TV series kong Rocky sequel canceled TV shows Columbia Pictures Action canceled Awards Tour ghosts FOX CMT directors YA natural history Paramount Network Mary poppins GIFs Pirates Toys dogs HBO Go sitcom Tubi Creative Arts Emmys Infographic miniseries satire Netflix Christmas movies Grammys Opinion boxoffice french romance transformers Acorn TV discovery Black Mirror Certified Fresh USA Network Spring TV Fall TV romantic comedy CW Seed christmas movies Universal 21st Century Fox basketball BBC docuseries mutant supernatural Ghostbusters LGBT hispanic heritage month Rom-Com franchise Peacock Alien book DC Comics E! Masterpiece stop motion 93rd Oscars Oscars free movies Amazon 2017 werewolf Western Sundance Stephen King Super Bowl zombie FX docudrama streaming Dark Horse Comics 24 frames IFC Films james bond Turner Classic Movies golden globes based on movie toronto Cosplay crime Comedy Central Pop slasher Exclusive Video Teen slashers VICE RT History talk show true crime Ovation Lifetime Christmas movies Star Trek The CW Showtime Classic Film medical drama indiana jones The Walt Disney Company toy story Endgame Pacific Islander spy thriller travel AMC Pixar singing competition Sony Pictures Turner mission: impossible nbcuniversal DC Universe obituary latino TV Land Baby Yoda venice Superheroe Shudder diversity Writers Guild of America CBS All Access olympics renewed TV shows 007 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt universal monsters Marvel El Rey archives Christmas king arthur marvel comics superhero lord of the rings Red Carpet adventure zombies Television Critics Association green book Nickelodeon Marvel Television independent Polls and Games Chernobyl doctor who The Arrangement facebook documentaries award winner Epix animated spain VOD USA Lifetime strong female leads japan New York Comic Con what to watch anthology crime drama spinoff nature parents blaxploitation Horror comic books Tokyo Olympics concert king kong Marvel Studios remakes 2015 VH1 telelvision video on demand Tumblr hispanic Trophy Talk 71st Emmy Awards Reality Trailer MSNBC Calendar Mindy Kaling Cannes HBO Max versus Avengers aliens Star Wars Family comic book movie Fox News know your critic live action YouTube Premium deadpool Image Comics name the review MCU Travel Channel gangster tv talk jamie lee curtis DirecTV game of thrones cats international GLAAD heist movie hidden camera 2016 Musical blockbusters adaptation crossover richard e. Grant casting FX on Hulu APB spider-man TCA 2017 TLC SundanceTV NBA revenge Thanksgiving cooking scorecard cancelled television new zealand comic book movies Character Guide dexter Disney+ Disney Plus IFC Britbox hist Mystery Interview Pop TV legend Lucasfilm Crackle American Society of Cinematographers halloween children's TV politics Funimation Shondaland Sundance Now Nominations BBC One popular twilight kids Spike all-time The Walking Dead technology YouTube sequels Logo critics 2018 debate Song of Ice and Fire black Video Games posters psycho comedies women south america Apple godzilla war PBS 73rd Emmy Awards royal family prank cartoon Nat Geo fast and furious TCA Winter 2020 1990s Tomatazos book adaptation stand-up comedy adenture Musicals Captain marvel comiccon australia TCM Film Podcast films Spectrum Originals TCA Awards news Premiere Dates a nightmare on elm street OneApp rom-coms A24 20th Century Fox Holiday MTV TruTV spanish language Rock Cartoon Network rotten Food Network SXSW BBC America child's play