Do we ever have faboo news for you today. Ambin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation are currently developing a new version of Steven Spielberg’s Animaniacs — and yes, Spielberg is involved once again.
The original Animaniacs is regarded as one of the greatest cartoons of the 1990’s (if not every other decade as well). Its main characters, Yakko, Wakko and Dot, were said to be the original “Warner Brothers” (and sister) who were locked away in the studio’s water tower for being public nuisances. They would get out in each episode and harass someone, usually a jerk who deserved it, or Beethoven, or Howard Stern in bird form, or the studio’s put-upon p-sychatrist Dr. Scratchansniff. Then you would get a different cartoon starring one of the show’s numerous other characters, including Pinky and the Brain, who became so popular they gained a show of their own.
One thing Animaniacs wasn’t was cheap. Like most other programs of WBA’s Silver Age, it used gorgeously fluid animation and a fully orchestrated soundtrack in each episode. The high cost of WB Animation’s typical budget prevented Cartoon Network from ordering more episodes of Freakazoid when reruns of that show took off on the channel. But these are different days. CN is working directly with WB Animation on Teen Titans Go, and since the broadcast kids’ market is dead as a week-old fish, CN has WBA all to itself.
But will a new version of Animaniacs be able to hold up to the original? Other things you don’t see on kids’ cartoons these days include gratuitously violent sight gags, direct references to recent cultural and political events, and jokes about getting kinky with Prince. Cartoon Network is the most lenient and writer-friendly of the factories currently making kids’ TV (see yesterday’s Steven Universe episode for one example). At this time, though, it is unknown where the new Animaniacs will be shown.
Finding the right writing staff is crucial as well, because much of Animaniacs‘ appeal came from its clever dialogue and wit. Much of the original staff is still working in the industry today, but we have no clue if any of them are being included in the conversation to revive this show (I’ve asked Tom Ruegger what he knows; this spot will be filled in with his reply later). As some recent reboots have proven, finding fresh talent to fill big old shoes is tricky. Let’s hope we don’t wind up with some guy who writes self-insert fanfiction of Dot falling in love with him.
This project is in the early development stages and if you recall how long it’s taken for DuckTales to get from announcement to air, you know we may be waiting a while. To pass the time, see how many nations of the world you can name in your head.