With the overwhelming popularity of Tiny Toon Adventures in the early 90s, Warner Brothers followed up with an even crazier offering called Animaniacs. Featuring three siblings – brothers Yakko and Wakko, and their sister, Dot – plus a whole collection of other interesting characters, this Steven Spielberg produced animated series made a memorable impression on many a fan.
Once locked up in the Warner Brothers studio water tower until they escaped in the early 90s, Yakko, Wakko and Dot were playful troublemakers around their stomping grounds, the Warner Bros. lot. They were perpetually pursued by the studio CEO, Thaddeus Plotz; Ralph, the security guard; studio psychiatrist, Dr. Scratchinsniff and his buxom assistant, Hello Nurse.
Interspersed throughout the show were a number of shorts featuring a cast of colorful characters who often made random appearances in their cohort’s cartoons. Pinky and the Brain was probably the most popular of the shorts, featuring a pair of lab rats, one benevolent (Pinky) and one with his eye on world domination (The Brain). Granted, none of plots ever succeeded, but he possessed the perseverance of a Wile E. Coyote and just kept trying. Pinky and the Brain would eventually get their own spin-off series.
Then there was Slappy Squirrel, a cantankerous old cartoon star who possessed plenty of explosives and anvils, and had a sidekick in her nephew Skippy. Goodfeathers was a mobster parody revolving around a trio of pigeons. Good Idea/Bad Idea offered life lessons via Mr. Skullhead (good idea – smell the roses, bad idea – grab the roses). Mindy and Buttons were a baby and her dog. Ever-mischievous Mindy would often escape from her surroundings and it would be up to the pooch to come to her rescue. Rita and Runt were a singing cat and dog duo. The Hip Hippos were a husband and wife team always trying to stay ahead of the fashion trends. And on and on…
Filled with a plethora of pop-culture references and a never-ending supply of sight gags, the enormously popular Animaniacs lasted for five seasons, then emerged later as part of The Cat and Birdy Warneroonie Pinky Brainy Big Cartoonie Show (whew!). Part of its success is due to the fact that both adults and children could find plenty to keep them amused. The show, which ran from 1993-1998, would manage to garner eight Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award during its run of 99 episodes. Fans will be happy to know that the first 75 episodes were released on DVD.
Were you a fan of Animaniacs back in the day? We’d love to hear your thoughts and recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a darn fine cartoon series.