AnimaniacsSteven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs
was a popular animated TV cartoon
series from Warner Bros
, produced by Steven Spielberg
. New episodes of the show were aired during the 1993
seasons, and episodes of the show were rerun in syndication
for several years after production of new episodes ceased. One feature-length direct-to-video Animaniacs
movie, Wakko's Wish,
was released on VHS and DVD
. The series was popular enough for Warner Bros. Animation to invest in additional episodes of the show past the traditional 65-episode marker for syndication; a total of 106 episodes were finally produced. One theatrical cartoon short film starring the Animaniacs
characters, "I'm Mad," was produced and released to theaters in 1995
The show introduced the popular cartoon characters Pinky and the Brain, who were subsequently spun off into their own TV series in 1995.
Animaniacs introduced a number of characters, including:
- Yakko, Wakko, and Dot - The "Warner Brothers" (and the Warner Sister, too!) voiced by Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, and Tress MacNeille
- Pinky and the Brain voiced by Maurice LaMarche and Jess Harnell
- Slappy Squirrel voiced by Sherri Stoner
- Goodfeathers - a trio of cartoon pigeons, voiced by Maurice LaMarche, John Mariano and Chick Vennera, based upon characters from the movie Goodfellas
- Rita and Runt - a singing cat (voiced by actress Bernadette Peters) and a loyal but stupid dog (Frank Welker)
- Buttons and Mindy - a dog and a baby, voiced by Nancy Cartwright
- Minerva Mink
was the second high-quality animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation during the animation renaissance
of the 1990s
. The studio's first series, Tiny Toon Adventures,
had proved to be a big hit among younger viewing audiences, and it had attracted a sizable number of adult viewers as well. Tiny Toon Adventures
had drawn heavily from the classic Termite Terrace
cartoons of old for inspiration, as well as plots and characterization. The modern Warner Bros. writers and animators used the experience gained from the previous series to create brand new animated characters that were cast in the mold of Tex Avery
's creations, but were not slavish imitations.
While episodes of the show did have their share of flops ("Mr. Skullhead," "Hip Hippos"), a surprisingly high number of well-written, outrageously funny cartoons were aired during the series, as the new madcap Warner Bros. animators merrily poked fun at everything and everyone, including their own fans ("The Please Please Pleese Get A Life Foundation").
While the show was very popular among younger viewers (the target demographic for Warner Bros.' TV cartoons), a great deal of the show's sly, subversive humor was definitely aimed at an adult audience. Adults responded in droves, giving the show cult-hit status and leading to one of the first Internet-based fandom cultures. During the show's prime, the Internet newsgroup alt.tv.animaniacs was an active, popular gathering place for fans of the show (most of whom were definitely adults) to discuss the latest antics of the Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister. The online popularity of the show did not go unnoticed by the show's producers, and several of the most active participants on the newsgroup were invited to the Warner Bros. Animation studios for informal get-togethers.
Animation fans consider Animaniacs the high point of the Warner Bros. revival of the 1990s that was inspired by the original Termite Terrace. After Animaniacs, Spielberg collaborated with Warner Bros. Animation for a third time to produce the short-lived series Freakazoid, along with the spin-off series Pinky and the Brain. Warner Bros. also produced two additional "zany" and "madcap" series in the later half of the decade entitled Histeria! and Detention, but neither of these series found a sizable audience, and they were both swiftly cancelled. Warner Bros. cut back the size of its animation studio (the high cost and relatively low profit of its animated feature films of the period also had an effect on the studio), and production on further Warner Bros. animated comedy series ceased. Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures continued to rerun in syndication through the 1990s into the early 2000s.