Thursday, February 7, 2013

Animaniacs Volume 4: Update # 1: “Floundering Fan Mail”.

As you might expect, I’ve been spending some joyous time with everyone’s favorite “Horrible Little Puppy Children”, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, on the new DVD set ANIMANIACS Volume 4. 

See THIS POST for more, and pay close attention to the part concerning the riotous episode “Back in Style” (1997), and our friend Top Cat James’ comment that draws very valid parallels to its “predecessor-in-subject-matter”, “Don’t Touch That Dial”, a 1988 episode of MIGHTY MOUSE: THE NEW ADVENTURES.

No, we’re not gonna do the comparison here, though it might turn up as a future post, but both were magnificent spoofs of the gloried and not-so-gloried past and the then-present of the TV animation industry.
With “Back in Style”, ANIMANIACS sends-up not only Hanna-Barbera (Yogi Bear Era), Hanna-Barbera (Scooby-Doo Era), and Filmation (Fat Albert) but, seeing it again after nearly 15 years, I can also add Total Television (Underdog), and The Beatles cartoon of the mid-1960s. 
Doesn't look a THING like me, Boob!
Another thing I completely forgot about, until seeing it again, was the INTRODUCTION piece that preceded the title card for “Back in Style”, which references Rocky and Bullwinkle.  In particular, the well-known and oft-repeated 1960s interstitial segment where R&B find a message in a bottle… that turns out to be a Message-From-Our-Sponsor.  Before that not-so-startling revelation, Bullwinkle asks if it is “Fan mail from some flounder”.   

Just like the Moose and Squirrel, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot also find a message in a bottle.  But, we’ll just let the dialogue take over…

WAKKO:  I think we’re lost!”


WAKKO:  Fan mail from some flounder?”

YAKKO:  No, it’s from some ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER… We should have never STOLEN THIS BIT!”

DOT:  At least we didn’t steal the NEXT CARTOON!” 

YAKKO:  That’s what YOU think!” 
...Now, it's what we KNOW!
And, while any aficionado of sixties animation would get the Rocky and Bullwinkle reference, if Top Cat James never drew for me the parallels between “Don’t Touch That Dial” and the later “Back in Style” (both written by Tom Minton, who must surely have written this intro as well) I’d still not fully “get” that final joke!  …Thanks, TCJ! 

Now, “Don’t Touch That Mouse!” (not Mighty Mouse), because we will very likely have another Animaniacs Volume 4: Update coming soon.  Stay tuned… or blogged… or logged-on, or whatever…


scarecrow33 said...

You're doing a great sell job on this one, Joe. Even though it's been years since I watched "Animaniacs" this series of reviews is getting me interested again.

Also you made some great choices for pictures. Each one really captures the essence of the characters in the shot. I especially like the Yogi Bear still and the R & B still. I'd forgotten how much the Animaniacs parodied just about everything in sight. Hopefully, the pop cultural references will hold up as the years go by, but even if the references are forgotten, the humor still remains. Even when I wasn't familiar with the source material, I still found the Animaniacs parodies very funny.

Joe Torcivia said...

Ya’d think by now, fer all that sellin’, Warner Bros. would throw a freebee my way, Scarecrow?

No matter, as you can tell, I’m REALLY enjoying this set, and am glad WHV decided to finally complete the series. Indeed, you don’t need to have the other three… just get this one and have fun. These might be my best remembered episodes (even though it’s been close to 15 years since I’ve seen ‘em), because they were the ones I saw on weekend Kids WB, as opposed to weekday afternoons when I was never home.

And, thanks for noticing, I really do try hard to find suitable illustrations for my posts and, as I’ve learned from too many years of watching Irwin Allen productions, tend to use ‘em over again whenever the situation allows.

I’d expect at least one more update on Animaniacs Volume 4 before I slam shut the Water Tower door. Possibly more...

Anonymous said...

I did not write the intro to "Back in Style," though I did write the cartoon itself. I can't say for certain who did write that intro but those rather do seem like the words of Animaniacs producer Tom Ruegger.

Tom Minton

Joe Torcivia said...

Mr. Minton:

Thank you very much for the information! And, you should know that “Back in Style” was (and remains) one of my most favorite individual cartoons of the ‘90s! Given that the ‘90s was such a great decade for cartoons, that’s really something!