This week I had to ask myself a question. Is it possible for Animaniacs to get formulaic? And the answer is: possibly.
I never would have thought it – but I feel like the showrunners really need to expand their horizons.
That’s not to say the show isn’t funny, it’s still hilarious. This season definitely got more creative with seeing how far it could cross the line with dirty jokes…Some stuff surprised even me. Just watch the first skit of the first episode and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
But my biggest criticisms from last season are still my biggest criticisms of this season. There’s too much Pinky and the Brain and far too little of our titular characters. There’s a huge lack of variety in the characters who get presented. And…maybe, just maybe they are a little too reliant on references from the original.
I swear – they reference Yakko’s “Countries of World” song in at least half of the episodes this season. I know meta-humor is Warner sibs’ specialty, but you would think that they would find more things to make fun of…Like, yes, we all know it but there’s way more to Yakko’s character than that.
But there were plenty of other jokes that were also repeated, but to a less exhausting degree.
Considering when the show had to be written, it’s not surprising that Trump jokes dominate in Animaniacs. Maybe it’s low-hanging fruit, but what is the show supposed to do? Putin and Kim-Jong Un were other popular targets…But Trump appeared or referenced in several skits as the main focus.
Honestly, I’m glad that these jokes are kind of old. Can you imagine the kind of jokes Animaniacs would do about the pandemic? Or the 2020 election? Or Four Seasons Total Landscaping? (Wait, I actually want to see that last one. Cause it sounds like a sketch they’d do.)
I could have gone for some more Tucker Carlson jokes though. Or Rudy Giuliani (who didn’t appear at all)- but still, the Trump jokes were solidly done. It’s nothing less than I would expect from the show.
I like Pinky and the Brain, it’s a great sketch – but it takes up more than half of every episode. At that point…why not just make Pinky and the Brain a separate show with eleven to fifteen-minute episodes? They rarely interact with the Warner siblings, anyway – and giving them their own show would allow for bits like Starbox and Cindy or for a character from the original series to have their moment to shine.
I’m sure there is some inane reason as to why they aren’t using the older characters as much, that makes sense to the executives…but since when are the executives the best judges of animated entertainment?
But it just seems odd that the Warners really don’t have the time to shine in their own show? Especially when there’s so much to do with them….But Pinky and the Brain takes on their role of mocking world leaders and societal norms.
What’s really cool though, is that the segments do get really creative and interesting. They dig deeper into the emotional side of the mice’s relationship – and the show really isn’t afraid to imply they’re more than friends. In one episode, the two celebrate Pinky’s birthday but I definitely think the highlight of this implied relationship is when a human version of the mice appears on a TV, having an affair with each other. (It would be sweet if the human designs weren’t something straight out of nightmares. Like bravo, I’m going to have nightmares from that.)
Pinky cross-dresses way more than I remember him doing so. I can’t quite figure out why it happens so much. Is it supposed to be comedic that he’s a male mouse dressing in women’s clothing or does Pinky honestly not give a fuck about the gender binary?
Probably a bit of both. The writers are obviously having a ton of fun coming up with these inane situations and the animation and art style can be really crazy. It’s obvious that a lot of work and creativity goes into both these segments – but I think giving it a spin-off would allow both sets of characters to really shine.
(I just want more Animaniacs in Animaniacs, tbh)
Is that so much to ask?
Year of release: 2021
Length: 13 episodes
Developers: Wellesley Wild, Steven Spielberg
Executive Producers: Steven Spielberg, Wellesley Wild, Sam Register, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Gabe Swarr
Voice actors: Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Frank Welker